Switching Careers? 5 Tips for Reinventing Your Personal Brand

Tips for evaluating your current brand and making the leap into a new career

building a brand

Whether you’re a corporate marketer looking to transition into the non-profit sector, or an employee ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship, changing careers and reinventing your personal brand is not an overnight process. But take note, there are people reinventing themselves every day.

[Related: ‘Fashionpreneur’ Gives Tips for Young and Aspiring Entrepreneurs]

Ngozi Opera worked in finance before taking the leap into entrepreneurship as a CEO and founder of the Heat Free Hair Movement.

TV personality, Bevy Smith worked as a corporate advertising executive for several years before she became host of Bravo’s TV Fashion Queens, her very own Dinner with Bevy series, and radio show, Bevelations.

Desiree Verdejo worked as an attorney for seven years before launching Vivrant Beauty, a beauty boutique for women of all skin tones.

And even Grammy Award winner John Legend, worked as a management consultant before making the transition into entertainment.

Keeping these success stories in mind is a powerful reminder that you, too, can plan, prepare, and make it happen. But it takes time, hard work, and patience to re-brand, so if you don’t know where to start or how to make the change, here are a few tips to get you started:

Define the vision you have for your new chapter — What do you want to be known for? What are your values, skills, and interests? Describe your dream lifestyle? Does your desired job fit your preferred lifestyle?

You have to understand you can’t do it alone. Making a successful career transition involves persuading others to help you develop and embrace your new brand—and take you seriously. Forbes contributor, Kathy Caprino said, “to switch careers effectively and achieve a positive outcome, you need four things: clarity, courage, confidence, and competence. Without these, you’ll most likely struggle hard and fail.” This couldn’t be more true.

“Research and identify the various job roles included in your desired career–from entry to executive level,  so that you can identify your competencies and any gaps. This information can help you create a career road-map that includes the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA’s) required to pursue various opportunities within your new career,” said Nicole K. Webb, career coach & founder of NK Webb Group.

Take Action: What skills and strengths can I leverage from my current career to transition to my desired career? Do I need further training or experience to make the transition? In some cases, you may not need to go back to school to make a career change. Align yourself with a mentor or person within the industry who can guide you into your next chapter. You can also request informational interviews with professionals in your field, apply for internships—they’re not just for college students, watch YouTube videos, and read journals and magazines relevant to your industry.

Assess & understand your current personal brand –Even if you are miserable in your current career, you already have a brand.

Take Action: If you’re ready to be honest with yourself about what it will take to re-brand, you can simply start by asking colleagues, mentors or trusted managers about how you are perceived. Alternatively, Dorie Clark, marketing strategist and author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, recommends holding your own focus group with a mix of friends and colleagues. Have a friend moderate a discussion about your strengths, abilities, and areas they’d like to see you explore. You’re only allowed to listen and ask clarifying questions.

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