Resources Guide

Careers

This section is designed to help you begin reinventing yourself. If you are seeking a new career, the skills inventory below, courtesy of Frederick G. Thompson, takes you through the process of assessing your skills, matching them to new fields, and marketing yourself. Thompson is an adjunct professor at University of Virginia Darden School of Business and founder and principal of the Communications Collaborative, a marketing and brand consultancy.

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Skills Inventory and Transition Activation Process

Step One: Skills Inventory

The Process

Take an inventory of both hard and soft skills your current and/or past career experiences have required.

  • Hard skills are directly related to fulfilling a position’s requirements. For example, a truck driver would have to be proficient at operating a vehicle safely; similarly, a real estate agent would have to be knowledgeable in state property sales transaction law.
  • Soft skills refer to interpersonal abilities a position might require such as communications, relationship-building, customer service, critical listening, and more. Using the previous examples, success as a truck driver might require attention to scheduling details and listening attentively to dispatch or customer instructions. Success as a realtor might require empathetic listening to client needs and an ability to forge strong customer relationships.

The inventory process is also an opportunity to evaluate what position requirements you don’t enjoy or you’re uncomfortable with. Remember, the job transition process is intended to help you identify and secure a new position that is not only suited to the skills you already possess but one that will be more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Personal Branding

The goal of the inventory process is to record—or inventory—a list of skills and talents that will demonstrate to an employer in a new job category that you are qualified to fill a position in that category.

Step Two: Matching the Inventoried Skills with a Desired New Position

The Process

This is not an easy process. For some individuals, it will be intuitive, but others may have a lot of uncertainty as to how or where a given skills inventory might best be applied. Fol- lowing are some guidelines that will help you match skills with a desired career transition target.

  • Begin by preparing a list of desired career choices or “targets.” For most individuals, this won’t be difficult. Most people who have been working for any length of time have already developed a list of alternative career areas they’d like to explore as time and circumstances allow. This wish list, for most career transition seekers, can and should comprise the most attractive, highest-priority transition targets.
  • Consider transition careers that are at least somewhat related to previous positions you’ve held. For example, many for-profit executives desire to make the transition to nonprofit organizations. While the nonprofit and for-profit worlds can differ, success in both areas still depends on similar core skills such as sound management, smart strategic planning, and building strong relationships.
  • Be realistic and flexible. Some targets are likely to be more attainable than others. Match your desires and skills against career transition goals that are realistically achieved without undue obstacles such as challenging new education requirements, logistically complicated geographic restrictions, or burdensome financial barriers.
  • Seek objective input. During the matching process, obtain third-party input from people who know you are seeking a new job. Ideally, such individuals will be able to provide an objective analysis of the job seeker’s skills and where those skills might logically fit when applied to a desired situation.
Step Three: Implementing the Transition
The Process

Once transitioning job seekers are confident that their newly inventoried skills are aligned with the skills their new career area requires, they are ready to take the third and final step— actively seeking positions in their chosen transition field. This process is complicated, of course, since the candidate in most cases has never actually worked in the new field and must “market” his or her suitability for the new position based largely on skills carried over from previous positions. Here are some guidelines for making this important phase of the transition process more successful.

  • Create a CV or resumé that communicates a clear narrative of how your skills will add value to your new career category. You need a good “story” that links the benefits of your skill set to the desired goals of the organization you seek to join.
  • As part of developing your story, carefully research organizations on your target list and identify unmet needs that your skills could uniquely accommodate. The goal here is to articulate how one or more of your strongest skills could add value to an area that is critical to an employer’s success. In essence, focus on how you can solve a problem the organization has and make it a major theme of your interview discussion.
  • Consider a “try before you buy” or even offer to volunteer. Many organizations are willing to consider a trial hire, particularly if an applicant’s only deficiency is industry experience—a qualification that can almost always be learned on the job.
  • Market yourself in the target industry as a thought leader by filling the content gap. Most industry conferences and organizations have an urgent need for speakers and panelists to provide content. These platforms as well as social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn provide credible opportunities for job seekers to increase their visibility as thought leaders or experts in various skills areas. For those who are transitioning in their careers, the key is to choose a skill set that is relevant to their target industry and connect the dots. As a follow-up, send a note to influential people in the career area being targeted. Start with something like, “I thought you’d be interested . . .”
Personal Branding

Personal branding is an important part of reinvention and much more than a simple “look at me” tactic. It’s how you’re perceived by others and a shortcut to people understanding what you’re about. Here are fifteen questions to ask yourself, provided by William Arruda, motivational speaker, author, and CEO of Reach Personal Branding, the global leader in personal branding.

Fifteen Questions to Uncover Your Brand

Branding is based in authenticity. It’s not spin. It’s not pack- aging. And it’s not about creating a false image for the out- side world. You need to know yourself—truly know yourself—to build your brand. That means you must get clear on your goals, values, passions, mission, strengths, and differentiation. These questions will help you uncover your brand.

  1. What do you do better than anyone else?
  2. If you were to receive an award, what would it be for?
  3. What’s the part of your job you love the most?
  4. What makes you feel most confident?
  5. What do you like best about yourself?
  6. What do people come to you for?
  7. What are you most proud of?
  8. What’s the most unique or quirkiest thing about you?
  9. If you won the lottery and didn’t need to work, how would you spend your time?
  10. What quality in others do you admire the most?
  11. About what topic(s) can you talk endlessly?
  12. What’s your preferred form of communication?
  13. What did you learn about yourself from the biggest mistake you ever made?
  14. If you had to focus the rest of your life on one thing, what would it be?
  15. What are the three most important elements of a life filled with joy?

So how do you get your personal brand off the ground? Here are eight tips to do just that, along with a brief introduction from Stacey Ross Cohen, CEO of Co-Communications, cofounder of College Prime, speaker, and author.

Eight Tips for Getting Started in Personal Branding

Many of us hit midlife and crave a career change but are stumped on how to begin. The solution: personal branding. In short, personal branding differentiates you from the crowd and is about the marketing of you. Although it may seem brands “just happen,” those who actively craft their own brand and deliver their standout value reap many benefits—career advancement, business opportunities, and more.

Below are eight tips for getting started:

1. Strong brands are intentional.

Start by defining yourself. Determine what you do well, what you love to do, and your identity and vision. Then own it. This all starts with a self-audit to pinpoint your purpose, strengths, values, and passion. It’s essential to crystallize your uniqueness—or competitive advantage—and why you’re a worthy investment. Equally important is understanding your audience: what they need, how they function, and what drives them to take action.

2. Have an answer to “what’s in it for me?”

Why should your target audience employ you? What’s your value? What makes you stand out from the host of other applicants? You need to stress your value and strengths. But avoid tailoring your brand too much to the audience. Make your brand about you first.

3. Know how to work a room. 

Networking is face-to-face marketing. Don’t focus on how many people you meet networking—focus on meeting the right people. Building relationships is the core of effective networking.

4. Stay on brand.

Maintain a consistent voice across different channels. Ensure your LinkedIn, Twitter, and other profiles are up-to-date and in harmony.

5. Be self-aware.

Always seek feedback. Ensure your brand is clearly articulated and know how to deliver on your brand and make it grow.

6. Create a powerful online presence.

Reputation management is key. The digital footprint one leaves across the internet is the encapsulation of his or her personal brand.

7. Have a multichannel approach.

Your tool kit should include but not be limited to: social media, blogging, volunteer work, and speaking at industry conferences. Consider all touch points, like email, phone calls, and mailed greetings. To stand out, develop a resumé with keywords and customized infographics along with powerful business cards and headshots. And create and share content that will position you as a thought leader.

8. Deliver  on  your  promise.

Remember: you are the product. Gauge your brand behavior and ensure you return phone calls and emails promptly. Not delivering on promises can wreak havoc on the integrity of your personal brand.

Storytelling

Part of reinvention is crafting a compelling story when you are pitching yourself on a sales call or a business meeting or networking. Here are five things to keep in mind from Precious Williams, the founder and CEO of Perfect Pitches by Precious, a media training, elevator pitches, sales, and branding company.

Creating the Perfect Power Pitch

1. Timing is everything.

Keep your ideas clear, concise, and brief. A brilliant idea means nothing unless you can deliver it in a few moments of raw power. The more concise you can be, the more effective you will be. When you have written the content of your presentation, take the time to map out how it will be delivered. When practicing your presentation, attempt to replicate the actual delivery as closely as possible.

2. Tell a story.

Storytelling is an essential aspect of sales pitches. It paints a picture of what life could be like with your product. Use your story to dramatize, build engagement, and elicit emotional responses to seemingly emotionless objects and catch the attention of your audience.

3. Be enthusiastic.

Pitching is about having the charisma, allure, and passion to get other people excited about what you’re presenting. Be cautious not to take it overboard to the point where you seem arrogant. A good technique for increasing your energy level is to add about 50 percent more energy than you feel comfortable with.

4. Be prepared for objections.

Understand that objections are usually nothing more than a mechanism that we use to get comfortable with what others are proposing before we agree with it. When people have an interest in what you are saying, they will certainly have questions. By formulating skillful and persuasive answers to these tough questions, it will help you demonstrate the array of abilities and traits that investors want to see.

5. Offer a solution.

Your product may come with many wonderful features for customers to explore. Obviously, a lot of time and effort went into creating it. However, prospects are truly most interested in what your product can do for them. How exactly does your product solve their biggest problems? How much money will they save by using your product? And will using your product free up their time or improve their lives?

6. Following up is critical.

Be consistent, reliable, and follow through on your word. Continue to follow up until you either get a yes or a definite no. Do not interpret a lack of response or any other kind of message as a no.

Health and Wellness

You can assist your reinvention and rebranding by ensuring you have a healthy lifestyle. Here are some facts to get you thinking about your own health and wellness, courtesy of Dr. Marion Recktenwald, founder of Thrive with Marion and Aging with Joy.

Did you know that:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as the state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
  • The United States is one of the wealthiest nations world- wide, but Americans have a shorter life expectancy compared with residents of almost all other high-in- come countries.
  • A 2018 study showed that adherence to five low-risk life- style-related factors (never smoking, healthy weight maintenance, regular physical activity, healthy eating habits, and moderate alcohol consumption) could prolong life expectancy at age fifty years by 14.0 and 12.2 years for female and male US adults respectively compared with individuals who adopted zero low-risk lifestyle habits.
  • Active longevity is 25 percent genes and 85 percent lifestyle choices.
  • A healthy lifestyle can prevent 90 percent of US adults from getting Alzheimer’s, and in the 10 percent with a strong genetic risk for cognitive decline, the disease can potentially be delayed by ten to fifteen years or more.
  • Engaging in physical activity and not smoking topped the list of the WHO 2019 recommendations for lifestyle choices that will reduce the risks of developing dementia.

Optimized and carefully targeted movement—when supported by other healthy lifestyle factors—can be the biggest blockbuster medication for body and brain at relatively low or no cost and without negative side effects.