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Navigating career transitions is always a challenge, especially in an evolving business climate. But it’s possible to put your best brand forward in a way that allows you to pivot to a new area of work as a creative professional. In this blog post, I’ll cover four key areas for ensuring you have the ability to pivot quickly and effectively.

  1. Define Core Values for Your Brand

As Jendi Coursey discussed in her guest blog post here last month, customers are embracing values as a focal point in decision-making. Businesses and individuals who offer a values-first focus are more likely to get repeat business. And, I’d suggest, when you embrace a mission connected to values, you are able to develop a different pricing structure, because you are building a long-term relationship with that client or customer, not just a quick deal. When pivoting to a new market vertical, or to an entirely new business model (aka, virtual workflow, etc.), you are better positioned to move fast if that mission focus is still driving your decision-making. So, for example, in my business we pivoted from creating content for live events to helping our clients produce virtual experiences. While the end product was different, our core values of quality, a focus on authentic storytelling, and audience impact were still at the heart of our work.

  1. Conduct a Personal SWOT Analysis

Now is a great time to do a personal SWOT assessment—Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. If you need more information on how to get started, check out this article from SCORE—the Service Corps of Retired Executives, a volunteer organization that allows experienced retired executives mentor younger business owners. You can use this SCORE Checklist to help you narrow down the questions to get at your SWOT analysis. The benefit of conducting a periodic SWOT is to help you define your brand, create marketing tools that position your business or service appropriately, or help you define a new business angle, product or service.

  1. Develop Big Hairy Audacious Goals

One of my favorite takeaways from the book “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by James Collins and Jerry Porras is the “BHAG”—which stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Every entrepreneur needs these goals to ensure we are looking past the day-to-day to some significant long-term objectives. And even if you work on staff inside a company, it’s worth targeting your BHAG to be sure you have a life-changing target that can drive your professional development plan. I keep my BHAGs on a white board over my desk, which also contains all my company’s ongoing projects and proposals. By having my BHAG there–both business and personal–I’m mindful of not losing sight of my long-term goals and strategies in the flurry of daily work.

  1. Tips for Transition Marketing

As the market transitions from virtual to hybrid and then to frankly who knows what, it’s important to be mindful of how your portfolio, your social media, and your resume position you for what’s next. Be sure your social channels are aligned with where you want to go. (So often I see headshots with sexy poses or pictures of beloved animals, which don’t really help me know who this person is professionally.) If you are job-hunting as a gig worker, be sure to highlight your soft skills when posting on platforms like LinkedIn. These include your ability to work with a team, your ability to use new tools or software to get the job done efficiently; and your willingness to manage your own time to deliver quality outcomes. Software and hardware tools and certifications are great, but these change constantly. It’s your work ethic and ability to be function as part of a team that makes you hire-able again and again.

The future of work post-Covid is still evolving. The best we can do is be ready for it.

Amy DeLouise is an entrepreneur, digital storyteller, and trainer. Check out her panel of creatives who pivoted their careers during the Post|Production Online conference April 10-13.

Many people are kicking off the New Year with a career transition. Whether you are looking to advance in your current job or switch to a different career track, you might find it useful to conduct a personal SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Consider Your Core Values

But before we jump into that, take a moment to assess your Core Values—what it is that matters to you in your current career. These should be broad ideals, not necessarily specific to your current job. For example, I like being able to make a difference. In my work as a video producer, I’m able to do this by telling important stories. But if I wanted to make a career shift, I could look at other jobs that don’t involve video, but still have making a difference as a core value. What are the values that make you tick? Jot down at least two.

Identify Your Strengths

Now, consider your strengths in two categories—those that help you in your chosen field, and those “soft skills” that could help you advance in any career.  For example, if you are a video editor, your strengths might include being able to learn a new editing software quickly. This strength can go in both columns, because your ability to upskill and apply new capabilities to improving your job is a talent that you can apply to any job. Another strength might be the ability to complete work under tight deadlines. In other words, you are good at time management. This is a soft skill that can apply to multiple careers. Make a two-column list of your top 5 strengths and identify which are unique to your current job, and which can be applied more broadly to other work opportunities.

Define Your Weaknesses

I like to think of these as personal challenges to overcome. Mine include being impatient with people who might take longer than I do to come to a decision. What are your challenges? Some common ones include Imposter Syndrome—feeling like you aren’t the expert you really are in your chosen field.  Or perhaps you are risk-averse. This can be a strength, particularly if you are in a field such as accounting. But if you are an entrepreneur, not being willing to try new markets or products can be an obstacle to success.  Identify at least 5 of your top weaknesses or challenges. Consider what tools you might have for overcoming those challenges. Strategies can include finding a mentor in a particular area of interest, joining a professional organization in order to transition to a new market, or taking an online course to improve your skills.

List Threats

I know, it’s out of order for the acronym. But I like to list threats before heading to opportunities. Threats can exist within your organization. Or they can occur outside, in the economic ecosystem. Occasionally a single threat can affect both. I think we can all agree that the Coronavirus created a massive external threat that affected many internal business systems, including funding and staffing.  More common threats might be managing your time when a company has a heavy meetings culture. Or working in a field such as energy that is going through a major transformation, which could eliminate your job.  List your top three threats.

Find Opportunities

Now you see why I wanted the Strengths, Weaknesses, and Threats listed first.  You can now be thinking about opportunities that maximize your strengths, help you avoid or conquer threats, and give you the chance to overcome your weaknesses. Relocating might be a solution for a market that is saturated with too many employees with your skill set.

Tools

If you’re someone who likes to use apps to visualize your work, here are some tools to use for your SWOT exercise:

http://creately.com/SWOT-Analysis-Software

https://www.gliffy.com/

http://www.wikiwealth.com/swot-analysis-generator

You might also enjoy Jim Collins terrific book Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All.

Whether you write them on a napkin or make a jazzy chart, stay focused on your Core Values and then assess your SWOT. It’s a great way to kick off a successful New Year.

 

Amy DeLouise is a digital media entrepreneur who often leads business workshops and has authored a number of business and digital media courses on LinkedIn Learning.