When you want to change careers — to a new field, a new industry or both — your personal brand can feel like a ball and chain weighing you down.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Four transition steps
With a few simple exercises, you can re-mold your personal brand from a ball-and-chain holding you back into the motor driving your career transition.
Step Number One: Answer the Why
You’ve heard me talk about stories time and again. Well, its because they are important. People communicate and learn via stories and you’re going to need a great one to guide your newly reshaped personal brand.
Start by asking yourself some questions:
- What interests your about your new field or industry?
- Are there specific aspects of your new potential career that motivate you?
- What experiences or conversations have you had that make you think this is what you want?
- What about you will help you be successful at your new venture?
Once you’ve got the answer to those, write out 2-3 sentences that describe the “pull” of getting into your new career.
Now that you’ve got the honest, transparent version of your statement, run it through what I call your “marketing filter” by asking yourself… What would my potential boss want to hear about this?
Once you’ve thought about that, write down your one-sentence, hyper-compelling reason why you want to make the change.
Step Number Two: Describe How Your Past Supports Your Future
Take a few minutes and think about how all the things in your past have helped shape you into the person you are today. Now consider how this past – and especially your work history – will help you succeed at the future.
Write down a list of at least three things that will help you succeed in the future in each of these categories:
- Characteristics or Personality Traits
- Interacting with People
Get outside of the box while you are thinking about it: if you are a tax lawyer, you’ve no doubt learned how to manage stress, intensely tight deadlines, and prioritization skills for the tax season. If you were in sales, but now want to get into advertising, you have on-the-ground knowledge of what makes people buy — and what keeps them from doing it.
This is your new list of transferable skills and a blueprint for selling yourself to potential employers.
Step Three: Build a Network
We’ve all heard its not what you know, but who you know — you are MOST likely to get hired through a personal connection.
Not only will building a network help you find opportunities, but it will also help you ensure that the career change is what you want, and the organization you work for is aligned with your ambitions. After all, a career change to a field or a company that isn’t a good fit is not what you want at all!
To make networking happen, follow these steps:
- Send an email to your close friends and family asking for referrals or introductions in your new field or industry, they’ll be happy to help!
- Make a list of 10 people in the area you want to focus on and reach out to one per day for the next 2 weeks asking for an informational interview
- Find 3 networking opportunities in your new niche — events, classes, parties — in the next month and attend them all.
Building a network, although sometimes intimidating is more than worth the effort.
Step Four: Show the Skills / Do Some Work for Free
Its time to get down and dirty — to show the skills that you’ve got.
You can do this by finding a way to display them: creating a website with your graphic design work or calling up the hiring manager and “closing the sale” on an interview.
Or, you can do this by offering up some free work. Trying to break into copywriting? Find something at your dream company that you can improve, do it, engage them with it, see where it goes. If nothing else, you will develop a portfolio of work for yourself in your newly desired career!
You can also reach out to a non-profit, charity or club and offer to do the same work for them!
Bottom line, if you follow these four steps, you will have a killer personal branding story for your career change.
That story will power you into your latest, greatest and most joyful success yet.
Good luck and happy career-changing!
Rebecca Rapple has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Business Insider, Keith Ferrazzi’s My Greenlight and more. You can learn more about the fundamentals of a remarkable job search on her site, The Resume Revolution.