AWIS member Melissa Lawrence

How to Make a Career Pivot

By Melissa Lawrence

The days of a good enough career where you go home exhausted and day-dream about loving your job are over. Career pivots from a good enough job to one you love is becoming more common in the life sciences space. If you’re considering a career pivot, this article is for you. I provide a comprehensive roadmap to making a successful career pivot that won’t leave you feeling full of regret.

1. Career Pivots Defined

A career pivot refers to a significant change in one’s career path, often involving a shift in Department, role, or scope of work. It’s about reinventing your career while leveraging your existing skills and experiences.

Remember: A successful career pivot is not about making abrupt, impulsive decisions. Rather, it’s a strategic, well-thought-out process based on your unique values.

2. Recognize the Need for a Career Pivot

The first step in making a career pivot is recognizing the need for change. Common signs include feelings of dissatisfaction, lack of growth opportunities, or a desire for a new challenge. You can dig deeper into deciding if a pivot is needed for you by listening to the Your Worthy Career podcast.

3. Identify What You Want

Before you leap into a career pivot, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what you want. This involves introspection and self-discovery. Here are some questions you can answer that will help you gain clarity.

  1. Interests: What are you passionate about? What activities do you enjoy?
  2. Skills: What are your strengths? What skills can you leverage in your next role?
  3. Values: What are your core beliefs? What kind of work environment aligns with these values?

If you’re reading this and not sure where to start, download my free guide: Lead with Your Values where I walk you step-by-step to know what changes to make.

4. Conduct a Gap Assessment

The next step is a gap analysis—evaluating where you are now versus where you want to be. This includes an assessment of the skills, experiences, and connections you need to make your desired career pivot.

5. Prepare for Change

Preparation is key when planning a career pivot. This involves both practical and psychological preparation. At this point you’ve decided what pivot you want to make and the steps from where you are to where you want to be. There are two types of preparation to consider:

  • Practical Preparation: This includes updating your resume, enhancing your skills, building networks, and researching potential roles or industries.
  • Psychological Preparation: A career pivot can be a significant change, and it’s important to prepare mentally for this shift. This may involve dealing with fear, uncertainty, and self-doubt.

6. Develop an Action Plan

An action plan provides a roadmap for your career pivot. It details the steps you need to take, the resources you need to leverage, and the milestones to track your progress.

7. Implement Your Action Plan

Once you have your action plan, it’s time to put it into action. This might involve taking up a course to acquire new skills, networking with professionals in your desired industry, or applying for roles that align with your career pivot goal.

8. Evaluate Your Progress

Evaluation is a critical part of the career pivot process. It involves assessing your progress and making necessary adjustments to your action plan. 

9. Embrace the Journey

A career pivot is not just about the destination, but also about the journey. It’s about learning, growing, and evolving both professionally and personally. If you aren’t being challenged, you aren’t growing.

10. Celebrate Your Success

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your success. Whether it’s landing a job in industry or acquiring a new skill, every step forward is progress worth celebrating.

As you embark on your career pivot journey, remember that change is a process, not an event. Embrace the challenge, stay committed to your goal, and be patient with yourself. With determination and resilience, you can successfully pivot your career and achieve the equitable and meaningful work you desire.


Melissa Lawrence is an experienced Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech, and the CEO of Your Worthy Career. To connect with Melissa, reach out to her on LinkedIn, subscribe to the Your Worthy Career Podcast, and/or learn more about how you can work with her on her website.