5 tips to reinvent your personal brand for a career change
Embarking on a career change is exciting, but figuring out how to reinvent your personal brand can be stressful. How do you market your skills to potential employers? Which expertise should you highlight? What should you leave out altogether? In my experience, people tend to underestimate the value they have to offer when they move to a new industry or profession. The truth is you probably have more going for you than you think.
Below are 5 tips for changing up your brand when you decide to have a career change:
1. What gives you an edge?
Even if you’re a fashion designer who wants to become an accountant, your previous experience is still relevant. It’s a matter of finding the gold in your work history that can give you an edge in your new career. The trouble is it’s tough to evaluate your skills with any degree of clarity. Most of us simply don’t have that kind of objectivity. That’s why it’s essential that you talk to someone in your industry, preferably a potential employer to get their take on your background and skills. I was so glad I did this when I changed careers. Otherwise I wouldn’t have realised that my digital marketing background was an advantage in the careers industry because careers education, along with everything else, is increasingly delivered online these days.
2. What are your transferable skills?
If you discover during this process that you identify strongly with what you do for a living you’re not alone. The good news is you are not your job title. The skills and knowledge you’ve built up over the years are not solely related to your profession. Here are a few examples of transferrable skills that employers look for across industries.
- Problem solving
- Initiative and enterprise
- Planning and organising
You can probably demonstrate these skills through your previous work experience. If not you can use projects, hobbies or voluntary experience to highlight your abilities. For example, if you want to move into a more senior role that requires leadership skills, think about when you demonstrated leadership in the past. Did you manage a group of volunteers for a charity project? Coach your kids’ football team? The fact that you developed this skill outside of work doesn’t matter. It all counts.
3. Reframe your skills and experience for a career change
When you have a list of transferrable skills, it’s time to repackage them in the context of your new career. One way to find out which skills are valued in your field is to study advertised roles on Seek and LinkedIn. Which skills are listed repeatedly? Can you already demonstrate that you have these skills? If not, brainstorm how you can get the experience you need. Do you need to do a course? Take on extra tasks at work? Attend seminars? If you can’t find advertised roles, call recruiters to find out what employers are looking for or approach people on LinkedIn who have the role you want and ask them how they got started.
4. What to write on your résumé
Résumés cause a fair amount of confusion amongst career changers for good reason.
How to get around the problem of no industry experience? The answer is usually to include your skills on the first page of your résumé and list your employment history and qualifications on subsequent pages. Why? Because you need to demonstrate your ability to do the job and if you’re new to the industry, your employment history won’t tell the full story.
Here’s an example of how you would write a transferrable skill:
- Accomplished leader: Coaches, mentors and motivates teams to achieve objectives, delegates effectively, makes and implements decisions
Find the top 5-7 skills required for your industry and include them in a ‘key skills’ section on the first page.
Instead of a career profile or summary, I recommend that you include a career objective to explain your transition. For example this was mine at one point:
- To leverage my 10+ years of writing, editing and marketing expertise, counselling skills and labour market knowledge to assist individuals with résumé development and job search strategies.
5. You don’t have to conform
When you’re new to a profession, it’s not unusual to feel like a fraud. Imposter syndrome — the feeling that someone is about to tap you on the shoulder and say: We just realised you have no idea what you’re doing. Get out of here! — is actually really common.
What most people don’t see is that being new can be an advantage. You’re not weighed down by all the rules and conventions associated with your profession because you don’t know what they are yet. This means you can bring a fresh perspective to your work. So resist the pressure to conform to industry norms. You’re not an imposter so much as a potential innovator.
Starting a career in a new industry can be daunting, but if you understand your strengths and the value you offer, it will give you the confidence to take on any challenge.