If you’re looking to make big career changes in 2021, then this expert says you must do this

Uncomfortability usually predates growth. Whether this is in our personal lives or careers feeling slightly uneasy about demanding what you’re worth is pretty normal.

We usually call this phenomenon “imposter syndrome” but there are ways around it if you follow the expert advice I picked up this past Wednesday at SoFi’s Career Camp led by veteran career coach and expert Ashley Stahl.

Ashley Stahl shared several tips to kickstart your career into high gear for 2021. For those of you who didn’t get a chance to attend the event, she wraps up some of her most important talking points with this blog post featuring 5 tips to start 2021 in the best shape of your career.

With the world on pause and business models shifting to more remote landscapes, this is a perfect time to ruminate and rethink your career goals to make a move for the better.

Ask for that promotion at the annual review time

I can’t believe it’s the end of the year already. You know what that means, it’s time for your annual performance and fiscal review.

This is the perfect time to discuss that raise and here’s why.

This has been an incredibly challenging year to adapt to the digital landscape most companies had to cow too, and fast, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since switching from doing dealings live, to handling negotiations via Zoom, it’s safe to say the landscape has changed and the workload has dramatically increased to keep up with the new technology and skills required.

Don’t hesitate to mention all that you’ve done to add value to your company during this transitional period. One woman from the Career Camp was in a Director of Communications role at a University who took on a significant amount more work to help build a more digitally friendly interface to help students and faculty stay connected and engaged while apart.

She mentioned even starting a podcast for the university. Obviously, she felt conflicted asking for a promotion because universities definitely took a hit financially this year due to the pandemic. This is Ashley’s go-to advice to approach this situation delicately while at the same time advocating for your true worth–and getting compensated for it.

Number one, she said not to be nervous to bring up filling this next-level role in 2021 because managers want and expect growth from their employees. That’s why they hired your ambitious self in the first place. Once you request a meeting to discuss a promotion be sure to do the necessary research required to really pitch that role that will compensate you for all of the additional resources, expertise, and unique vision for growth you’ll bring to the institution next year. If you’re unsure about what it takes to fill the role, reach out to folks on LinkedIn with that career description. You’ll get a basic idea of the skills you’ll be sure to mention in the review that will be of enormous value.

Be sure to request this meeting to discuss your future in the company separately in an urgent email so your employer knows you are taking the upward trajectory of your career seriously. The earnest nature of wanting to make a big career change can get lost if it’s mentioned only in passing at the end of a weekly Zoom wrap up session or an afterthought in the breakroom. Don’t make the mistake and take a laissez-faire approach to your career growth.

During the meeting be sure to bring up 3 big “needle-moving points” of what you would add to that new role. Explain to them what your vision would be for the next 12 months as the hypothetical new Senior Director of Communications if we’re using the example from earlier.

Looking to make a career pivot but don’t know where to start? Here’s what SoFi experts advise you to do.

If you’re feeling unhappy or overwhelmed with the new responsibilities at your job — you’re not alone. This year has really offered some clarity on what aspects of a chosen field were no longer serving full-time employees. Ashley Stahl claims the reason people start to experience job dissatisfaction is that their work responsibilities no longer align with their core values and refuse to honor the core skill sets you to bring to the table. How can we remedy this?

First, it’s important to take stock of what your core values are. These are things about your very being that if you were to remove that one aspect of your personality “you” wouldn’t be “you.” Ashley takes a step further in defining the importance of recognizing your core values on the job and sticking to them to remain fulfilled professionally.

“Take the time to write out the top 5 core values you hold close to you and then define them–because what freedom means to you may look different to someone else. With those defined values audit your current job, career path, and industry to see whether any of your values are being violated. For example, an individual with a core value of integrity might find themself struggling to promote a product that isn’t the best quality.”

The next step to transitioning out of a current role that no longer sits well with your core values is to consider what your core skill sets are. These are the skills you harness throughout your time in the field and the things you’ll use to your advantage to forge a new career path. SoFi career experts outline the 10 most common skill sets found in the workplace:

  • Building (virtual or physical acts of building)
  • Innovation (creative self-starters with entrepreneurial skills)
  • Words (both spoken and written communication)
  • Motion (people who prefer to be on their feet)
  • Service (characterized by a drive to help people)
  • Coordination (an eye for detail as well as organizational skills)
  • Analysis (a passion for research and examining data)
  • Numbers (if solving equations is easy for you, this is your skillset)
  • Technology (this includes both people who can program and people who manage technology)
  • Beauty (the people who make art of the world around them)

Capitalizing on your specific core skills coupled with the act of upskilling can be especially helpful for those trying to jump into a brand new industry during this pandemic and Ashley explains why in the following statement she shared with me over email correspondence.

“Upskilling is a crucial action to take during this pandemic. Research has indicated the most needed and researched skill right now is anxiety and stress management, which is critical for decision making, but the ongoing, most important skill that employers can sense more through conversation and story than any resume, is adaptability.”

How do we demonstrate adaptability in a fast-paced, ever-evolving, digitally interfaced world of doing business?

Harvard Business Review defines adaptability as the ability to ‘quickly read signals and act on change.’ According to Fast Company, adaptability is now the number one quality employers should look for in a new hire. To start, Oxford researchers predict that as soon as 2033, 47% of US jobs will be at high risk of being replaced by robots. Every 5 years a skillset you have built becomes obsolete, so by the time you graduate from school… what you learned in your first year is already losing some of its value. According to a report on workplace reskilling, 25% of adults reported a discrepancy between the skills they have and the skills needed to execute their current job.”

One tip to stay up to date on the skills required to carry out the responsibilities for a challenging new career is to look up that specific position online and see what the requirements are. Find someone who works in that field and inquire after their core skill set on LinkedIn. What programs, continuing education, or special projects were they involved in to give them the cutting edge that allowed them to soar and become a giant in their industry? Look to those who forged a career before you for ultimate guidance. Ashley drives home the importance of keeping the right mindset when it comes to rapid changes on the job.

“That said, your hard skills will not count for your career nearly as much as your mindset. A nationwide study has found that students with a growth mindset, meaning someone who sees challenges as opportunities for growth, were three times more likely to score in the top 20% on tests. My best advice, decide to get wildly curious when a challenge or change arrives. Ask yourself Who has experienced this same change that I could ask for guidance from? What is the one thing I can do, right now, to move things forward in this new direction? What are the potential positive outcomes that may arise from this change? How can I perform my best in this new environment?”

If you find yourself still struggling to come up with a new industry to apply the skills you’ve honed in an adjacent career path I suggest checking out this website recommended by another SoFi Career Camp panelist Hamaria Crocket. It’s called Mynextmove.org and it’s essentially a search engine that fields your interests and how they relate to the world of work. Kind of like those career quizzes you took in middle school to find out what you’ll be when you grow up.

If you’d like to hear more about the other programs offered by SoFi career experts and advisors through their partnership with Korn Ferry make an appointment with a career coach here. Check out the Career Camp streaming on YouTube if you want to find out more from different panelists on other ways to enrich your career!

Ashley Stahl also recommends a few podcasts that give great career guidance for those looking to make a strategic leap in their career, “Podcasts I’d recommend for career pivots and mindset upgrades other than my own show, You Turn Podcast, include For The Love of Money, Earn Your Happy, How to be Awesome at Your Job, and MindLove.