The phrase "reinventing yourself" seems to be popping up all over lately. Just a few days ago a friend asked me how he could do it without starting completely over. His concern was, "How do I move in a new career direction without sacrificing all the skills and experience I've worked so hard to achieve?" The underlying question is, "Is this even possible?"
Yes, it is possible to start fresh without starting over! Here's how:
1.) Take inventory of the skills, experience, credentials and achievements you've built into your career to date. Know your strengths and weaknesses, your assets and your liabilities. Recognize your transferable skills and how to market them. Describe the breath and depth of your work experience. Understand the value of your credentials. Match power verbs, specific nouns and quantifiable descriptors to your achievements and practice telling stories about them.
2.) Clarify your values. Dig deeply enough into yourself to know which values are yours and which are your parents', mentors', employers', culture's, society's or faith community's. Claim yours and release theirs. Look again at any value regarding money or security: What you think is a value may not be a value at all, but a mask covering a cluster of values. For example, "money", "benefits" and "security" often mask values such as lifestyle, adventure, independence and safety, so record these values as the latter, not the former, if you hope to actually live them.
3.) Identify the talents, gifts and passions that drive you. Be honest and real with yourself and if necessary, seek the objective opinions of others. Claim what is truly yours then describe it in who-what-when-where-why-how detail and practice condensing your description into a 60-second story. Note how related talents and gifts seem to cluster around passion themes. This is not coincidence, but a sign pointing the way to your life's purpose.
4.) Use all the data you've collected about yourself in Steps 1,2 and 3 to brainstorm a list of jobs, careers, employers and industries that match and make positive use of your skills, experience, credentials, achievements, values, talents, gifts and passions. Use career professionals and reference materials such as the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and the Occupational Outlook Handbook to assist you. Shorten, refine, categorize and prioritize your list.
5.) Develop a stellar self-marketing package to match each cluster of jobs, careers, employers and industries you want to market yourself into. Create multiple versions of your resume and cover letter to cover a series of related titles, career paths or industries. Use the key words associated with each profession. Distribute your resume and cover letter package to employers strategically via ads, online postings sites, networking, recruiters and targeted mailings.
It really is this simple! Yes, these steps are dense with all kinds of "to do's", but if you do everything suggested, you will get to where you want to be. The worst mistake you can make in career reinvention is to believe it you can't do it. Aren't you worth that hope?
Cheryl Lynch Simpson is a Spiritual Director and Solutions Coach who helps women discover and create the life they've always wanted to live. Cheryl is the author of over 30 print/Internet articles and the founder of Coaching Solutions For Women, a coaching website that produces and showcases career, business, and life solutions that improve the life balance of today's busy women. For a complimentary copy of her latest e-book, Ten-Minute Stress Zappers for Women Service Business Owners, visit http://www.coachingsolutionsforwomen.com.