When it comes to making a career change, there’s no time like the start of a new year to get a fresh perspective on your trajectory.
First, get clear about whether this is the right time to embark on this path. Taking a step to move your career forward can disrupt other parts of your life. Make sure there aren’t too many other things going on so you can focus your efforts on finding the right job.
If the time is right, spend a few minutes setting your goal for your next step so you can pursue it with focus. When your aspiration is clear, you won’t squander time or effort on opportunities that won’t help you get there.
Once you’re sure that 2020 is going to be the year you make your move, and you’ve defined that next-step career goal, follow this personal branding process (detailed in my latest book, Digital You) to prepare yourself for your career change.
Step 1. Understand Your Personal BrandTo reach your goal, you need to define your unique talents and gifts as well as your differentiation. This step requires a lot of introspection. So, ask yourself these questions:
- What are my greatest strengths and the things I do better than anyone else?
- What are my three biggest career accomplishments?
- What experience or skills do I possess that are essential for the role I seek?
- What’s my likability factor? What makes people enjoy working with me?
- What unique value do I bring to every project I work on?
- Who needs to know me so I can be successful in my career growth plan?
Step 2. Tell Your StoryOnce you’ve unearthed your brand, it’s time to articulate it so you can excite others about you as a candidate. Bring together what you’ve learned about yourself and weave it into your long-form bio. Tell the whole story. Then, create smaller versions of your story for things like your elevator pitch and the answer to the standard interview question of, “So, tell me about yourself.” When you’re clear about what makes you great and can express it in a compelling way, you’ll have the confidence to make your case to decision makers.
Step 3. Digitize Your StoryWhether you’re seeking a promotion in your current company or you’re looking elsewhere, you will be Googled in the hiring process. That means you need to spend as much time on the virtual you as on the real you. In fact, your online brand will probably be what delivers your first impression. If your digital profile is lackluster or copycat, you could be eliminated as a candidate for the role you seek without even knowing it.
To master your digital branding, make your LinkedIn profile compelling. Why? Because it’s often the first place that people go when they want to check you out professionally. And even if hiring managers start at Google, they’ll end up at LinkedIn because your profile is likely to show up at the top of Google results for a search of your name. Update your profile and make sure it is:
- Authentic: It exudes the real you.
- Aspirational: It positions you for the role you seek.
- Differentiated: It showcases the unique value that you bring to the table.
- Intriguing: It makes readers want to know more.
You can edit the bio you wrote in Step 2 above and use it as your 2,000-character “About” in your profile, which features prominently and is one of the elements of your profile that hiring managers are most likely to read. Spend the time you need to get it right and ask trusted colleagues and mentors to review it. Incorporate their feedback then update your profile.
Once you’ve tackled these three steps, you’re ready to jump into your career search with clarity and confidence.