In an age of buzz words and trends, the words personal branding may seem like just another fad to you. However, those two words are actually pretty powerful. Particularly if you are considering a career change. Investing in your personal branding is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal when it comes to switching career paths. Here’s why.
Starting a new career requires a huge leap of faith. And, once you take that leap, you’ll find yourself in new waters. While you may be new to this particular field, your personal branding demonstrates that you have what it takes to succeed. It highlights what relevant skills, knowledge, and characteristics you possess that will help you succeed in this new industry. That’s why we recommend that all career changers invest in their own personal brand.
In this article, we coach you on what personal branding is and 4 ways that you can build a personal brand to switch careers.
What Is Personal Branding?
Personal branding defines who you are and how employers and peers see you. Effectively, it is how you promote yourself in a professional context. Your personal brand is a combination of your story and experience, your skills, your values, your characteristics, and your message. It’s what sets you apart from the pack and lets employers see if you would be a good fit for the company. Both culturally and in terms of skillset.
Your personal brand is reflected through your CV, professional profiles such as LinkedIn, your elevator pitch (more on that later), and how you present yourself in interviews or online. Put simply, as a career changer with limited experience in an industry, personal branding emphasises why you would excel in this new role.
Personal Branding For Career Changers: Steps To Success
So you’re planning a career change. Congratulations! Making the decision to move on is the most difficult step in the process. Now comes the fun part. Choosing your new career path.
Finding a new career can be daunting. Take your time with this stage, and make sure you do plenty of research. The more targeted your career search, the stronger your personal branding will be.
Still not sure if you’re ready for a career change? Check out our article on recognising the signs that it’s time to move on.
Once you’ve defined the new direction you want your career to go in, it’s time to start building a personal brand. Follow these 4 steps to success.
1. Identify Your Personal Brand
The first step to personal branding success is identifying who you are and how you want to present yourself to the world. This is no small feat. But, it will help you to stand out in a sea of professionals vying for the same opportunity. The key is to focus on goals. Ask yourself these questions to get on the right track.
- What are my goals?
- Are my goals aligned with the new career path?
- What are my values?
- How would I like to be known in the industry?
- What relevant transferable skills do I have?
Use the answers to these 5 questions to carve out your personal brand. One of the most important steps in building your personal brand is learning how to identify and emphasise your transferable skills.
By establishing what relevant skills you already have—such as coaching, communication, public speaking, team building, or analysing— you can repackage your professional experience to make it relevant to your new path. And relevant really is the key word here. Remember that everything in your personal brand should be cohesive and targeted to your new career.
During this stage, we also recommend getting into research mode and learning as much about the new industry as possible. This includes industry trends, industry leaders, and potential roadblocks. This will come in handy in step 2.
Once you have defined your personal brand, you’ll need to write a personal brand statement. This will sum up exactly who you are and what you offer in a nutshell. It’s also a great way to show off your personality and why you’re unique. Check out personal branding examples to get inspired and nail your statement.
2. Boost Your Online Visibility
The main goal of personal branding is to craft a public image that will show employers and other industry professionals who you are and what you bring to the table. There’s no point in building a strong personal brand if nobody sees it. So, the next step is becoming more visible. Here’s how.
Improve your visibility online. When it comes to personal branding, the internet is your friend. Start by updating your profiles on professional networking platforms like LinkedIn. Ensure your profile is updated to reflect the skills, experience, and values you have that relate to your new career choice. This is where all your hard work in step 1 pays off.
Once your profile is up-to-date, get active online and build a presence. Don’t just target LinkedIn though, an increasing number of professionals now harness the power of Facebook and Instagram to network and promote their personal brands. If you’re unsure how to get a presence, start simple. Join relevant industry or networking groups to connect with like-minded professionals. Then, try some of the ideas below to get noticed.
- Build a personal website
- Engage online by leaving comments on blogs or posts and participating in industry conversation threads
- Contribute to industry websites by writing guest blog posts or posting your own insights on websites like Medium
- Attend industry-related webinars, conferences, or virtual networking events
- Share the latest industry news on your platforms
3. Get Noticed Offline Too
A word of advice. While online visibility is important, don’t underestimate the power of offline visibility. Referrals are still one of the best ways to secure a new job. Particularly in a new career path. To improve visibility offline and get your personal brand out there, look into volunteering opportunities, offer to speak at events, and attend face-to-face networking events. You never know where your big break will come from.
4. Polish Your Elevator Pitch
Have you heard of the term elevator pitch? You’ll need one to successfully build your personal brand to change careers. Imagine you are in a lift (elevator for Americans) with a potential employer. You have just a few seconds to wow the employer and convince them that they should hire you. How do you do it?
Essentially, you use an elevator pitch to sum up who you are, what you do, where you come from, and what you offer. It needs to be short and snappy enough to catch someone’s attention in a few short seconds.
Your elevator pitch is a crucial piece of the puzzle. Not only does it give you a perfect introduction to use at networking events and interviews, but it’s also your bio for professional networking platforms. Additionally, if you do offer your insights as a writer for thought leadership websites, your elevator pitch will become your byline.
To sum up, your elevator pitch should tell people what drives you, what relevant qualifications you have, and what makes you unique.
Building a personal brand will significantly improve your chances of switching careers successfully. What’s more, it will boost your confidence. At Refreshing a Career, we understand that starting a new career can be daunting. To support you through the process, we have put together a wealth of valuable resources on our website, including a comprehensive career change guide.
For further advice, check out our resources on changing careers or take a look at our live job board for career change opportunities near you.