Is it too arrogant to say that at the age of 27, I have mastered the art of the pivot? As I call it, the art of pivoting is learning to shift career goals and paths. From the perspective of someone older, what I have done very early on in my career can be considered “job hopping .”In fact, 2022 saw the highest level of people switching jobs on average each month. To some, job hopping is considered risky or a “flight risk” for certain companies. However, I like to replace the term job-hopping with job pivoting as those who pivot from one job to another are doing it with intention and strategy. I can confidently say pivoting early in my career has handed me experience and knowledge that I would not have had if I stayed at one company. If done strategically, job pivoting can positively impact your career.
Engaging in the art of the pivot has many benefits to one’s career. First, creating mini pivots early in your career helps you to explore multiple positions, jobs, and industries. At the start of your career, it is crucial to not pigeonhole yourself. This pigeonhole often comes from our own thinking of what we imagined our careers to look like. This narrow way of thinking can lead us into jobs where we feel stuck and unable to move. But when you allow yourself to be open-minded, different jobs can become the gateway to a prosperous career.
As a 2020 graduate, I virtually entered the workforce with many of us working remotely following my Zoom graduation. At that moment, I felt the gripping weight of the COVID-19 pandemic on my back. I was nervous about the job market I was entering into. During this time, I saw the Great Resignation happen, which impacted close family members and prominent public figures in front of me. Employers have documented that worker retention has become more difficult than during the pre-pandemic days. 25% of employees are voluntarily quitting their jobs. Many of this 25% felt as though the current system that they were working in did not benefit in the long run.
Those quitting their jobs are seeing a real-life positive impact from their decision. Salaries for new hires are on average 7% higher than the median pay for those already employed in similar roles. I am not saying that money is the only reason job switchers were making the shift, but I would be naive to neglect that part. The pandemic has put many Americans in challenging financial circumstances. And most cited low pay as their top reason for quitting their job in 2022. Yet as of April 2023, it appears the significant income rise that employees were getting has lowered itself down to pre-pandemic levels. But does this mean that the art of the pivot is nowhere to be seen? Even though Americans are not navigating the job market as they were post pandemic, it does not mean Black Women should not follow suit as those Americans once were.
Post pandemic life has brought about many changes to Black Women’s lifestyle. One social media phenomenon known as soft life, which originated in the Nigerian influencer community, encourages women to intentionally seek comfort, peace and rest. #Softlife directly faces and rejects the strong black women trope and instead highlights choosing a life that prioritizes mental health, happiness and overall optimal health. With the rise of soft life and job prioritization for Black women, one can argue that the art of the pivot is a vehicle for achieving soft life. Former chief talent officer for Netflix, Patty McCord encouraged pivoting within your career as it helps employees to achieve more after their learning curve flattens every 3 to 4 years. Switching from job to job every few years can significantly impact your salary, work/life balance and your ability to maintain #softlife. This is not easy for many as gender and race consistently play a factor in the job market.
Prior to the pandemic, studies have seen that women job hopped at a higher rate than men since 1986. However, women were also in industries that experienced the most job hopping. Unlike men, women are punished in their career once they decide to have a family. A need for a flexible work schedule or a company that caters to family oriented women is seen as a major reason for the frequent job hopping. For Black Women specifically, with the challenges in the workplace varies from lack of support, accommodating stereotypes and often being concentrated in lower level roles, the option to job hop helps in elevating your career. Especially in careers that do not have a linear pathway, strategically pivoting every couple of years can help in gaining experiences that are often not found if you decide to remain loyal to a company.
Business Insider conducted a salary journey piece on a Black woman who job hopped her way into making over $200K by 31. She was able to successfully do this by basing her jobs around their ability to meet her needs. Just like a company has goals to meet, she also has her own. She eagerly explains that once she has learned everything she can in a job she starts to look for something new. As someone who works in Human Resources, she does not look at how long candidates stay at a job but instead asks them what they accomplished in their roles. She started as an Entry-level HR manager making $51K to now the Head of Employee Relations making over 200K. In this 2023 economy, loyalty does not pay. If you feel as though you are worth more than you might need to start strategically pivoting. Especially for Black Women where race and gender significantly impacts our ability to grow within our careers.
Pew Research Center, Majority of U.S Workers Changing Jobs Are Seeing Real Wage Gains
Janice Sutherland, Why mid-career pivoting is daughter for black women
Vivian Giang, Why Women Job Hop More than Men
Brittany K Robertson, Black Women Navigating the Workplace, A Few Strategies