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10 Tips for Successfully Navigating Your Career Shift

I’ve spoken with quite a few people recently who find themselves questioning their current job or career and wondering if it’s time to make a change. And it got me thinking about the connection between these people’s stories and their current . . . um . . . there’s no other way to say it . . . age. I’ll just call it what it is. It’s mid-life, middle age. That time, as defined by Merriam-Webster, as “the period of life from about 45 to about 64”.

At 50 years old I’m well aware of all the career questioning and changes that this time of life can bring, although my questioning came before the age of 45.

I was 42 and in a job that I loved but wondering if that was all there was, working very long days, plus evenings and weekends, but never really feeling completely fulfilled. It was exhausting. And if you’re there now you might feel like there’s no way out, nothing on the other side of all this, no way to really be happy and fulfilled both professionally and personally. You might be ready for a career shift but not quite sure where to start.

When I was laid off from that job due to the economic downturn in 2008 I had the great fortune to find a position at a university teaching what I had been doing for nine years. I interviewed, got the job, and the rest, as they say, is history. I now have an amazing teaching job that, along with my consulting work through The Brand Teacher, fulfills me in more ways than I can even count.

But change can be scary and hard.

Listen to my recent interview on Planting the Seeds of Change Podcast where I talk with Belinda MJ Brown about dealing with change.

Planting the Seeds of Change Podcast

A desire for a career change can have you asking what’s the first step? How do I reinvent myself into something new while not throwing away my years of experience in my current career or industry? How does what I do now translate to what I want to do?

Today I’m sharing with you 10 tips, based on my experience and my knowledge of personal branding, to get you started on your road to a more fulfilling career and life. Let’s jump in!

  1. Relax, don’t panic, take stock. This is a great time to set some personal brand goals. Do you want to move into a completely different industry? Do you want to go out on your own and build your own business? Do you want to take on a role at a company that’s a better fit with how you see your life and career? Really examine what will make you happy and set some goals for where you’re headed. Remember to craft SMART goals so you can easily measure your progress. Check out How to Make SMART Goals for a deeper understanding of how to craft your SMART goals.

  2. Define your personal brand essence to understand what excites you and makes you feel happy and fulfilled. Really dig deep on this one. What are you passionate about? What motivates you? What gets you going in the morning? What’s your mojo? Be as specific as possible in getting at this insight. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up to receive my free Personal Brand Workbook to get started defining your personal brand.

  3. Get feedback from others on how they see you. It was Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap, who said “your brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.” So ask them. Ask friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, and even clients and customers to describe you in five words. You’ll be surprise what this can tell you about how you’re really coming across to your audience.

  4. Look for inspiration. Think back to the things that made you happy as a kid. Many of us had something we liked to do or play as children that shows our deep interests. For example, as a kid I always loved playing school and, of course, I was always the teacher. :-) Now I’m a teacher at a university and in my business I’m a personal brand teacher to my clients. Who knew that something I enjoyed doing as a child would become my passion?! What were you passionate about as a kid or young adult?

  5. Identify one or two options for career paths that would fulfill you and research them. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Just start with a simple Google search to find information on the experience, skills, and education needed for specific roles that you’re interested in. You can also do this research via job search sites like Indeed, the Jobs tab on LinkedIn, and many other job and career search sites.

  6. Examine the skills and experience that you already have that would translate to the new career that you want to have. For example, maybe you’ve been a high school teacher for many years but the job just doesn’t do it for you anymore. You can probably tie your teaching experience to a role in human resources where you work to educate and train employees. Think about the similarities between the two roles as far as understanding how to educate people, how to design curriculum, and more.

  7. Identify any holes in your experience that you might need to beef up to better prepare you for this shift. You can then take classes in person or online or get specific certifications to fill in any gaps. You could also volunteer for a non-profit organization doing some of the things that you hope to do in your new career. (Check out the Catchafire website that matches professionals with non-profit projects based on skills.) This will add to your toolbox of skills and demonstrate that you aren’t afraid to learn new things.

  8. Beef up your social media presence to project yourself in a way that fits with your new career path. Look at how you see yourself, how others see you, and how you want to be seen and create an online presence (or edit your current one) to position yourself as a thought leader with expertise in the area you want to be known for. For example, if you want to move to a position as a content creator you’ll want to begin publishing content (blog posts, articles, case studies, social media posts, videos, etc.) that shows you know how to communicate your message, appeal to your audience, and gain followers.

  9. Show up. Don’t be afraid to get out there and network. Make an effort to establish new connections in person and online. You never know who you know, or whom your connections know, who might have an opportunity that is the perfect fit for where you want to take your career. And nurture those connections. Provide them with useful content, meet for coffee (in person or online via Skype) to catch up with them, or send them a quick note via LinkedIn or Facebook to wish them happy birthday. Nurturing relationships can go a long way in helping people remember you when a position comes across their desk.

  10. Be patient and be consistent. Shifting into a new career or position can take time as you try to demonstrate that you’re a thought leader in a new area and shift how your audience perceives you. Through consistent actions, consistent content, and a consistent personal brand you’ll soon be seen in a way takes you in the direction of your new goals. If you want help with the time consuming work of making sure your online presence is consistent check out my Personal Brand Audit and Action Plan.

As Will Durant said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” So begin making it a habit to build a personal brand presence, in person and online, that supports your new career goals as you navigate this time of life. It can open new doors, uncover new opportunities, and create a higher level of personal and professional satisfaction.


The Brand Teacher

Want to better understand what you can do to be seen as a thought leader in your industry to make your career shift? Email me at and let's schedule a chat about how we can work together or book your Personal Brand Boost Strategy Session today!

#personalbranding #career #careerchange #managechange #careergoals #personalbrandstrategy

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