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career, job search, learning, unemployment

Don’t be afraid to make quick pivots. Sometimes they can have tasty endings.

This weekend, we visited Vancouver BC with some friends. It’s an amazing city, and we had a fantastic time exploring it. The Bloedel Conservatory in particular is well worth a stop if you ever go.

As we approached Burlington, WA en route home, the freeway ahead came to a full stop. We realized with dismay that this was the weekend that the Mount Vernon bridge which collapsed in May was receiving its permanent replacement span, and that I-5 traffic was being detoured onto a side road. This resulted in a 9+ mile backup. Ugh.

Just before we hit the tail end of the freeway parking lot there was a freeway exit. I suggested we take it and figure out a detour from there. Once we got up the offramp, I realized that this road led to Edison, WA.

edison

Edison is a little village in the Skagit Valley inhabited by artisans. The surrounding area has a distillery, a couple of exceptional cheesemakers, and some amazing farm producers. Edison itself is home to an exceptional bakery, The Breadfarm, as well as Slough Food.

breadfarm

Photo credit: Rick Becker

20 minutes later, we found ourselves on the lovely back patio at Slough Food, thinking this was the best detour ever.

slough

We continued our trip on a road that paralleled the (still stopped) highway to the West, winding through the beautiful Skagit Valley, figuring out our route as we went. We rejoined the freeway South of Mount Vernon into free moving traffic.

How does this little travelogue connect with our careers (or career search)? There are times where we are suddenly faced with an unexpected obstacle or challenge that looks to deter us from our intended goal. But we always have a choice as to how we react–and how we change course. Sometimes we have to do so quickly and figure things out as we go. This is often the way things go in recruiting; you have a phenomenal candidate who a team really likes–and the position suddenly gets put on hold. Pivot? Find another team internally who might be willing to make an opportunistic hire.

How about in your career search? Let me give you an example: I was RIF’ed when the F100 financial services company for which I worked was sold. I was amazingly bummed to lose an amazing job where I was still learning, one of the best managers I’d ever had, and working with a world-class team. How did I pivot? I hit the books to obtain my SPHR certification, volunteered with a professional organization to maintain my network, did a bit of consulting to keep my skills fresh, and started exploring other industries. This led to me working in healthcare, then my current position in the software industry. Did I know how things would play out exactly? No. But I put aside the emotions, formed an initial plan, and developed it as I went.

This kind of decision making and flexibility are essential to a successful career search. (And sometimes, to finding a very tasty and relaxing alternative to sitting in a massive traffic jam as well.)

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