When you’re moving in a new career direction, it can be a challenge to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to go. How do you build your credibility during career change? The way you communicate is central to your ability to navigate this transition. Here are three ways to use consistency in your communication to boost your credibility during career change.
1. Build your Credibility by Demonstrating Trustworthiness
As a career changer, your reputation is one of your biggest assets. You need to be sure that public information about you is accurate. Now that technology makes it so easy to find your data, it is more important than ever to monitor what is publicly available. It’s safe to assume that prospective employers, recruiters, and the people that you are networking with will check you out on the internet. It’s important that you’re aware of what they will find.
Here are some suggestions. Do a search. Review the information. Is it accurate? Is it consistent across different locations? For example, does the information on your LinkedIn profile concur with the information on your resume or bio. What about information on your company website or in your professional association directory?
Consistency doesn’t mean that you should have the same information in different places. But it does mean that there should not be any discrepancies. Even a simple unintentional error, such as a date difference in your work history on two different sites can have a negative impact on how you are perceived. Don’t let easily corrected errors create unnecessary barriers to your career change success. Don’t allow discrepancies to damage your credibility during career change.
2. Become More Visible in your Professional Community through Consistent Communication
When you begin your career change, you may realize that your professional network is dormant. Or you may worry that it is too small. If you’re changing direction you may not yet have a network in you new field. Building new relationships takes time. To accelerate the process you need to commit to communicating consistently. Regardless of your starting point, making this a priority is one of the most powerful actions you can take to advance your career change.
But what if you feel as if you don’t have time communicate consistently with your network? If this is the case, begin by reviewing all your activities, including the things you are doing to work on your career change. Where can you eliminate activities? Can you reduce the time you are spending on career change actions that produce less value? An example might be the time searching job boards
The most effective approach to communication will depend on your situation and personal career goals. It may be that you need to change your strategy. Can you leverage the things you are already doing to get better results?
For example, attending meetings of your professional association is often a useful activity for career changers. Booking the event on your calendar makes it easier to keep your commitment to show up on a regular basis. But ask yourself if there is something you could do to get more value without spending a lot more time.
Is there a way to use this event to open doors to more opportunities for effective communication? If you currently participate as an attendee only, look for ways to take on a role that makes you more visible. At first, his could be as simple as arriving a bit early to greet visitors and help them sign in and find their badge.
Once you have a specific role, you will naturally meet more people and it will also be easier for them to approach you since they now know a little bit about you. Small changes can increase access to opportunities to communicate consistently with others who can support your career change.
3. Build your Credibility During Career Change by Developing your Personal Brand
Another way to build your credibility during career change is to develop your personal brand. Reviewing and reworking your professional identity is an important part of your transition process. But in the meantime, how can you communicate consistently when your work life is in flux?
One way that you can remain consistent while accommodating the realities of your career change is to shift how you describe yourself. When you’re communicating about your career, you don’t have to be confined by your job function or current job description. Instead adopt a branding-based approach to anchor your career communication. Personal branding expert, William Arruda, defines personal branding as your “unique promise of value.”
This approach gives you more freedom in your career communication. You are more than your job description. You have personal strengths, values, interests, and unique experience in your life and your work. Yes, your personal brand will evolve over time, but there will be a consistent core from which to create effective career communication.
Say, you’re an educator who wants to become an engineer. On the surface it may seem as if there is not much overlap between these two fields. But with some detective work to clarify your personal brand, you will find ways to bridge this gap. For you, it may be your passion to solve problems. You are the link between the two professional fields. If you dig deeply, you will find creative ways to connect that make it easier to communicate credibly.
Most job seekers default to talking about job-specific skills and experience. The reality is that if you are changing direction, you may be missing some of the skills that your competitors have. So how do you build your credibility during career change?
The secret is to be a translator for your conversation partners. Focusing on the value you bring allows you to shift to an external focus. Rather than describing job-specific skills and experience, find ways to broaden the conversation. Explore the needs and interests of your audience and think about ways that you can link this to your personal brand. For example, if your passion is solving problems, integrate this into how you describe yourself.
Dealing with uncertainty is integral to the career change process. You are seeking answers to your own questions about where to go next in your career. At the same time you are fielding questions from family, friends, professional colleagues, and prospective employers about your career decisions and goals. By paying attention to communicating trustworthiness, being more visible, and expressing your personal brand, you will be taking important steps to build your credibility during career change.
Career & Work Life Matters, ISSN 2150-6299, Vol 6, no. 12
|Jennifer Bradley, PhD helps professionals lead their own careers, empowered with the information, tools, and resources that they need. She offers individual coaching and consulting, teaches classes, and publishes articles on career development and career transition.
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