Five Ways to Reinvent Your Professional Self
By Caroline Dowd-Higgins
In this tumultuous economy many people have changed careers by necessity and others, by choice. This is the perfect opportunity to take charge of your destiny and reinvent your professional self to reignite your career and your life.
There are five essential self-assessment strategies to pursue for your professional reinvention. These steps will empower you with confidence and help you discover what you really want so you can market yourself and achieve your career goals.
1. Consider What You Value – Take the time to get quiet with yourself and determine what you value. Values are the biggest predictor of career satisfaction. Rank the things that are most important for you in a career such as: flexibility, security, autonomy, salary, work/life balance, etc. The values list is endless and only you can articulate what is important for your work environment. Values also change over time so what you want in a workplace now may be very different from the job you held 5 years ago.
2. Rediscover Your Interests – Knowing your interests can help you unlock your passion when choosing a career. Interests are the biggest predictors in career selection since we gravitate towards what we like. Are you a hands-on doer, an investigative thinker, or one who likes to create or invent? Perhaps you are interested in helping people or enjoy organizing data and information, or maybe you enjoy persuading and influencing others to achieve a goal. Your interests may lead you to a brand new career or entrepreneurial opportunity.
3. Embrace Your Personality – Personality refers to your unique patterns of mental, emotional, physical, and behavioral characteristics. Your personality preferences play a big role in the types of work you may like or dislike.
• Where do you draw your energy? Do you prefer to focus on the external world of people and actions or are you energized by ideas and feelings of the inner world?
• How do you perceive information? Do you focus on the realities of the present or the possibilities of the future?
• How do you make decisions? Are you guided by objective, analytical reasoning or subjective, personal values?
• What is your need for order in life? Do you prefer to be organized and planned or spontaneous and flexible?
Know thyself and honor your inborn personality type to help you find a career that matches your natural tendencies.
4. Scrutinize Your Skill Set – A skill is an ability, based on training or experience, to do something well. The goal is to discover what they are and market them with humble confidence to make you attractive to employers who value these skills in the workplace. Skills fall into three main categories:
• Transferable Skills - taken from job to job and important in many career sectors. Examples include: communication (verbal and written), critical thinking, analytical, leadership, project management.
• Specialized Knowledge – these are skills relevant to a particular job or career field. Examples include: operating laboratory equipment, computer program proficiency, and foreign language ability.
• Adaptive Skills – these are personal competencies you bring to the professional environment and often the most sought after by employers. Examples include: motivation, initiative, integrity, flexibility and resilience.
5. Develop Your Brand – You must showcase your strengths and define your “special sauce” in this competitive job arena. Market your unique combination of passions and talents and develop your story about why this is a valuable commodity. If you need a jump start, query people in your circle of trust and ask them what makes you special. Ultimately you are in control of your personal brand but gathering input from others can be a great point of departure.
Take the time to get quiet with yourself and discover what you value, what interests you, how your personality plays a role in your career, and inventory your skills. You can’t plan your career road map until you know here you want to go and it begins with self-reflection. Developing your brand will help you play to your strengths to identify opportunities where you will thrive.
Whether you are looking to reinvent yourself in the same industry, transition to a new career, or develop your own business, this is your opportunity to clean the slate and design a new professional you that plays to your strengths and feeds your soul so you can take control of your career and your life. Let the games begin!
(Caroline Dowd-Higgins pens a career transition blog called “This Is Not the Career I Ordered,” www.notthecareeriordered.com. She is also the Director of Career & Professional Development at Indiana University Maurer School of Law)