skateboard YOUIf you are considering making career change, I have good news and bad news.  The good news is – it’s up to you.  The bad news…it’s up to you.  That is the biggest hurdle most people face when considering making a change or looking for new opportunities.  It seems to be a huge undertaking and they don’t know where to begin. So let’s discuss the secrets. 

Start by understanding that the first thing a hiring manager, VP, or even CEO asks when looking for new talent is,“Who do I know?” 

Next, they ask people they trust, “Who do YOU know?”  The last thing they do is post any kind of opportunities online, yet that is where most people go looking for their new careers!  Do you see the problem?  

Wouldn’t it be great if when these amazing opportunities came along, that you were top of mind for the position?  Or even better, what if business leaders created a position specifically with you in mind because of the unique value you offer?  How would that feel?

Even if you are not actively looking for a new job, NOW is the time to start building your brand, so you can take control of your future.  There is a whole passive job search happening around you all the time.  Become part of the discussion.

Outlined below, is a step-by-step process to re-energize yourself and start putting your career back in your control.

1) Take a Personal Skills Inventory

At the heart of everything you do are the transferable skills that you have developed and can apply.  Take some time to just list everything you can do.  Grab a piece of paper and brainstorm.  Maybe even ask a friend to help you with this.  How are your computer skills?  People skills?  Be specific.  Read more about transferable skills here.

Next, evaluate how your skills contribute value to an organization.  Have you found ways to increase revenues, maximize profits, increase efficiencies, or enhance productivity?  And more importantly, can you quantify those skills?  I.e. I was able to increase conversions from 23% to 26% within six months.

Skills Inventory

2) Do a Self-Awareness Assessment

Now you need to dig a bit deeper and do some soul searching.  What are the activities, people, and relationships that excite you?  What about the ones that de-motivate you?

  • What, specifically have you LOVED doing before?
  • What kind of work environment are you most productive in?
  • What does a good leader mean to you? Do you have examples?
  • How can someone get the most out of you?
  • What do you HATE doing?
  • When do you feel the most unproductive? What contributes to that?

T Shirts from Zazzle

Imagine what it would be like to just do all the activities that energized you…

Side note: Now, if after these two steps, you find that you don’t have the necessary skills to do the things you love, this is a perfect time to start exporing educational options.  Short certificates, diplomas, even degrees!  There are so many options, but first take the time to discover YOUR goals first. Then the education will make so much more sense.  Too many people have jumped into a bachelor of who-knows-why and four years later are back in the same place.

3) Develop Your UVP (Unique Value Proposition)

Spend some time on this one.

You have heard the dreaded question, “So what do you do?”  If you are like most people, you say, “I am a THIS position at THAT company and I do blah, blah, blah.”  All the while, their eyes glaze over, forgetting each word as you say them, while they await their turn to share their version of the exact same story.   Does this sound familiar?

Well that is why the UVP is so important!  To keep things simple, let’s dissect the terms individually about what we are looking for:

UNIQUE – What is specifically different about you that makes you interesting?

VALUE – How do you enhance the situation and ignite new ideas?

PROPOSTION – How could someone collaborate with you to create opportunities?

To put this into the right perspective, you should really think about WHY you do what you do, rather than just WHAT you do as discussed above.  Imagine when asked what you do, you could say something like:

  • “I love being able to positively affect change and inspire people on a daily basis”
  • “I am passionate about using my creativity and artistic skills to get others as excited about our products as we are!”
  • “I take such extreme pleasure knowing that my attention to detail allows others to explore the creative side of the business because they feel secure in the financials.”

Now, think about how those introductions may spark interesting dialogue!  To ignite your WHY fire, please find the time to watch this amazing video by Simon Sinek. 

A word of caution – your UVP is not a sales pitch.  It has to be genuine and from the heart.  Spend some quality time developing a solid UVP and then rehearse it over and over to get comfortable.

How to build your UVP:

Work backwards from step two above.  Look at your list of things you love to do.  Start with these and make them uniquely you.  Then go to step one and show how your uniqueness creates value.  Finally, paint a picture of what it would be like to work with you and have others imagine how how they could leverage your unique values.

Then practice, practice, practice.

4) Network

To stand out, you must be in front of people.  For most people, networking can be confusing, and even scary, but it doesn’t need to be.  Networking is just a fancy term for meeting people.  And it is where the magic happens if you know how to do it right.  Networking is not about selling – it is all about CONNECTING.


Think about someone in your professional life today who you are close with.  At one point in the past, you didn’t know them.  But that day you met, that was networking!  Now think about how silly you would feel today being nervous around them for the first time. Think of networking as the places you go to begin new long-term relationships.

Be genuine and show a sincere interest in what other people have to say.  Stop thinking about how they can benefit you, and think about how you may help them by connecting them with someone or something you have access to.

And when someone asks about what you do, surprise them by sharing your WHY through your UVP!

Pro Tip:  Next time you meet someone, see how long you can go before they actually know what it is that you do.  Can you engage them by asking good questions, actively listening, and exploring ideas?  Can you even set up a coffee meeting before they even have your card? Try it!

Also, have a great look at this post by the about accessing the hidden job market 

5) Promote Your Personal Brand

There are many tools out there to help you promote your newly designed brand.  Take advantage of them!  And if you have followed the four steps above, this should be relatively easy.

Create a complete Linked In profile.  Spend some time on this as it will be your main online professional presence.  Join relevant groups, and discussions.  More on this in a future post, but have a look at MY Linked In Profile and see what you think!

Become a subject matter go to person.  Share and discuss ideas that you can speak knowledgably about.  Use Linked In groups, Facebook, blogs, etc.  But keep the ideas centered around your UVP to allow people to understand your brand better.

Ask everyone to connect with you.  Use the online tools to connect with new people, especially Linked In. Share your profile and use it in your correspondence.

Leverage your name.  First, register your name as a URL, then make sure you have your name in gmail, and any other online places you can.  The biggest problem the next generations will face is ownership of their names! But that is a completely different discussion.

Just be searchable.  If you spark their interest, let them find out more!  And make sure you Google yourself first to see what is out there! Also, a recent article I came across explains Personal Branding in 6 Seconds and 15 Seconds which I think will help you pinpoint your strategy.

5.5) Be Interesting

Taking charge of your future means you have to stand out in a crowd and be unique.  There is a massive hidden job market where more than 90% of the jobs are.  So be part of the discussion rather than just another emailed resume.

If you are serious about change, here are some words to burn into your brain:

Stop being humble

Stop being the same

Stop being afraid


My Motto:

“It is not ever because they are not interested.  It is because you are uninteresting.  Get interesting.”


I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about this!  How have you applied these techniques?  And if you need help with your very own UVP, email me and I will help!

Original Image by Beraldo Leal is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Joe Girard
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