Labor Day special: Forks vs. pivots

A friend named Dan recently took a new job with a firm based on another continent. While the job is elsewhere, his employer has said that he can still live in Atlanta where he, his wife and two children call home. The job became permanent following a short period of contract-for-hire status, a term to describe contract employees, who are constantly being re-classified in other realms of the shared economy. But that’s another story.
When Dan shared his news, he communicated ambivalence about the situation. The first level is pretty obvious: Lives in one place but has to commute to work in another. The next level isn’t so obvious to the normal passing eye.

Dan is like a lot of the working world now who rarely turns up in the normal stats: Former corporate type who struck out on his own a few years ago, has done well but always feels the pressure of needing to do and earn more. When told it sounded like he was making a career pivot vs. taking the fork in the road, he seemed to accept the view. Pivots are real and continue unabated amidst unprecedented change, constant transition and what feels like a leaderless march to what the world calls a new normal.

So far, or since the term was coined in 2011 by someone who ironically no longer holds the same influential role, it’s meant two percent economic growth, which is hardly enough to warrant happy economic talk emanating from political and business elites. According to Vet Jobs Early Eagle, a newsletter that helps veterans secure employment, roughly 86 million workers are not counted on the employment rolls and the work force participation rate stands at 62 percent, the lowest rate in 40 years.

Source: WSJ, August 22nd*

*Earlier projections have been revised upward for first half of 2015.

It’s important for those still attempting to manage their jobs and careers to understand differences between pivots and forks in the road. Pivots are temporary and generally reside in personal choice; forks are longer lasting and usually involve full relocation or deeper rooted change away from normal routines. Forks also can be involuntary.

Instead of taking the fork in the road that hasn’t emerged yet, I like to eat with my fork — at least for the time being. Recognize the difference and you’ll be a lot farther down the job/career management road than when you first started reading. Happy Labor Day,