A personal brand is useful for many things, as I constantly preach here on The Branding Muse. However, one point that many overlook is that having a solid personal brand eases the difficulty of changing careers or industries. Previously, I transitioned from the start-up world to higher education, after almost a year of waiting for the right opportunity. I had always wanted to get into higher education, but without a master's degree, it felt like my chances were slim. In the meantime, I focused my energy on building my name doing things that I love: branding and social media. As I learned to enjoy what I now refer to as professional purgatory, I had great success. The energy of being a full-time entrepreneur was enticing to others and more often than not, I met with and trained millennials who wanted to start businesses as a way to escape jobs or industries they hated. They were feeling so trapped and in their eyes, the only way to do what they truly loved was to run their own business. But let me tell you that is so far from the truth!
Yes, you read that right.
[Tweet "Your dream job exists, you need to find it or create it."]
You can be hired, happy and paid, when you develop your personal brand. I go in depth into how to build a personal brand as an employee during the Job Search Bootcamp I teach. Since I have made successful transitions between industries and have helped others do the same, I thought I would share some of the lessons that I learned along the way.
Identify transferable skills.
Which really means, just because you are the sh*t in one industry, doesn't mean you will be the poo in the next one. Not all jobs, companies and industries are similar and we aren't all lucky to have jobs that directly relate to the next. For example, imagine explaining how working at American Apparel part-time would make you a great social media manager, or how your communications degree will make you an excellent accountant. You have to stitch together a professional story that makes it obvious that you have the necessary skill set even before you sit down for the interview. Take a good look at the job descriptions of the jobs that you are applying for and identify one example for each job responsibility they list. Are those examples sprinkled throughout your professional biography, social media channels, resume and cover letter?
Find a sponsor/internal advocate.
[Tweet "It's not what you can bring to the table. It's also about who can invite you inside the house."]
You can't bring much to the table from the sidewalk now can you? Woo, feels like I'm taking y'all to church today! No but seriously, job searching is an extremely humbling experience because you must depend on the critique, approval and assistance of others in order to get ahead. Each week, you should be connecting with at least two people in the industry/company that you are interested in getting into. This can be virtually or in person. Out of these people, a few real MVPs will emerge that are willing to advocate on your behalf to others. They can vouch for your skill set and passion, in addition to being able to pass your resume along or get HR to take a closer look. Having a partner on the inside that can keep you visible is important.
Always be prepared.
Soak up all there is to know about the skills that you need and the company culture you will have to fit into. Express your interest in their area of work and ask in what ways you can be proactive in your search. Are there professional associations you should join? Is there a networking group or event series that you should be present at? Is there a book they recommend or someone else that you should connect with? When you are prepared, you ask the right questions and look for the right things. Your goal is to tailor your job search materials to highlight what the new job is looking for. Your resume should look and read entirely different after you have these conversations.
Adjust your personal brand.
One size does not fit all. I have transitioned for public relations to corporate communications to sales to branding and social media. In that time, I have also gone from agency, to corporate offices to start-ups to higher education. Each time I made a transition, my personal brand was different. The articles I read and posted, the events I attended, the Twitter chats I participated in, the look and feel of my site, my resume design, professional biography etc. all changed each time. I even blogged differently. (You'll notice I started blogging specifically about social media in higher education on Linkedin for sometime.) This is where most people fail. They don't sell themselves as experts in the field that they want to enter and as a result, employers move on to the next person who does a better job at communicating they're qualified.
[Tweet "How to Transition from One Industry to Another"]
What do you feel like you struggle with most when you are trying to change jobs or industry? Leave a comment below and I'll give you some advice for your specific situation.