by Jeff Carroll
The phrase “reinventing yourself” seems to be popping up all over lately.
In fact, Fortune magazine just did a big cover story about it a few months ago.
As the economy struggles to recover, there is one thing we can all agree on: job security no longer exists. In fact, job creation is at its lowest point since 1980, and jobs continue to disappear at an alarming rate. This is true of all professions, including HR.
In fact, just a few days ago, I was doing executive coaching session with a senior HR executive, who lost her job and is now “in transition.” Tired of the corporate grind and constantly looking over her shoulder for the ax to fall, she asked me how she could “reinvent herself” without starting completely over. Her concern was, “How do I pursue a new career direction in HR without sacrificing all the skills and experience I’ve worked so hard to achieve?” Interestingly, her real underlying question was “Is this even possible?” She was confused and wasn’t sure whether she should do.
The options she considered included :
- Remain an HR executive, but pursue jobs in an entirely different or smaller industry.
- Reinvent herself as an HR specialist in labor relations which would play to her signature strength within HR.
- Reinvent herself as an HR consultant, coach or headhunter. Either working independently at home or by joining a smaller, boutique firm.
- Reinvent herself as an entrepreneur, become her own boss and forget HR entirely.
My response to her: ”You clearly have a lot of options. And it can be confusing to sort through all of these. But I’d suggest stepping back and following some rules…and all these rules begin with “RE.”
Rule #1: RE-treat
Get away! Get out of the office, out of your house!
Change the scenery so you can clear your mind and disengage for even a couple of hours.
There’s no choice here. This is a must do if you’re ever going to reinvent your career.
Rule #2: RE-flect
Grab an article or book on career reinvention to read. Or pull out your resume and go back through all the HR jobs, projects or roles you’ve been a part of whether during work or outside of work.
Then, write down the good, bad and ugly and be alert for some common threads of passion.
Obviously, since we all seem to be busy, busy people, both mentally and physically, this is easier said than done!
But, this is an essential part of the reinvention process and, guess what, we’re not very good at it.
Rule #3: RE-assess
Typically, when you’re contemplating some degree of career reinvention or new career direction, you’ve been thinking about it for awhile. It doesn’t just happen overnight!
It mostly starts off as a soft, muffled voice and gets louder and louder until you can’t ignore it any longer. So, track that inner voice…when did it begin, what was happening at the time, and what have you’ve been doing when it repeats itself, possibly asking you, “Is this all there is?” If this sounds familiar, welcome to the party…we’ve been expecting you…you’re not alone!
Rule #4: RE-brand
I guess the first question should be, “What is my brand?” Obviously, you have to get an idea as to where you’re at before you can start to figure out whether or not you need to re-brand.
For most of us, our re-branding could result in a 45 degree, 90 degree or maybe even a 180 degree change in what we’re currently doing. Everybody re-brands differently and a lot depends on where you want to go.
So, to start off, get some 360 feedback on your current brand (and your proposed new brand) from colleagues, friends, family and any others in your close circle to help you clarify what you new direction should be. .
Rule #5: RE-position
Re-branding typically leads to re-positioning or re-packaging. The Madison Avenue ad agencies have certainly taught us all lessons about this with the overused phrased: ”new and improved”.
So, here’s what needs to happen, you need to pull from your list of background skills, aptitudes, competencies and learning experiences that when re-positioned will be very attractive to the market, industry or company you are trying to build credibility in and sell to.
You are now a free agent offering a special value proposition to a targeted market that’s looking to buy!
Rule #6: RE-launch
Ah! Where the rubber meets the road! How do you get your new message out there?
You can initiate an online social media campaign with emails or through Linked-In, Facebook or Twitter. All good, all helpful but my favorite horse to ride (and you can’t ride them all) is direct face-to-face networking through people you know or through people who can refer you.
No cold calling here! Just meeting with people and letting them know where you want to go and how you can solve problems or create solutions with the power of your new brand.
Rule #7: RE-connect
One of the most empowering moves you can make in reinventing your career is joining and connecting with a support group of people who’ve been down the road you are headed towards. Typically, these are called mastermind groups.
A mastermind group is a group of people who come together to mutually assist each other in their pursuit of career success. The idea is that the members of the mastermind group each provide insights, suggestions, vital skills and knowledge that other members may lack. They bounce ideas of each other and offer help and advice so that they all may become successful in pursuing their dream.
As an example of this, I lead a group called the “RE-Street Brand” which is career mastermind group that specializes in helping HR professionals “RE-invent” and “RE-brand” their careers for success in today’s uncertain and volatile economy. This group is open to a highly select HR and non-HR professionals. The group meets twice a month in-person in the Chicago area. It also sllows members to share ideas virtually through the Re-Street Brand Linkedin Group which can be accessed HERE. It has been very successful in support people as they pursue these seven “RE” steps in career reinvention.
There you have it, 7 rules for reinventing your HR career.
But, in truth, there is no one cookbook or firm set of rules that works in every situation. However, following the above rules can help you greatly in thinking through the process of reinventing your career for success in HR.
I would welcome your comments, thoughts and experiences on HR career reinvention. Please post them HERE.
About the Author: Jeff Carroll is an executive coach and currently Director – Leadership Development at Northern Illinois University. He is also Founder of the Re-Street Brand, a mastermind group that specializes in helping professionals re-invent and re-brand their careers for success in a volatile economy. Jeff has over 20 years of HR and consulting experience including VP, Human Resources positions for two mid-sized companies.
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