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Career Switching

Not Your Parents’ Job Market: How To Stay Relevant and Reinvent Your Career

Author and career director Dawn Graham began Forté’s Women Lead Webinar in January by describing the careers of yesteryear. Traditional jobs – the roles your parents had – would build over time in a linear, stable pattern. The job market would reward industry expertise and long-term commitments to a single role or company. Depending on who you are, this either sounds comforting or tirelessly boring.

“Careers have changed,” Graham said. “Expertise has a shorter shelf life today than ever. The idea of one career has long gone away.”

Graham is the career director of the MBA Program for Executives at The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania. She is also the host of a Sirius XM radio show called “Career Talk,” and is the author of a new book titled, Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success.  Using her background in career coaching and psychology, Dawn has created a roadmap for professionals who wish to change careers in a new, volatile job market.

She demonstrates three steps that everyone, even those comfortable in their roles, can take to plan for further market disruptions.

Constant Reinvention

Graham predicts that switching careers is going to become the new normal. Current job-seekers are navigating an ever-changing economy that rewards side hustles, gigs and portfolio careers. Companies no longer search for commitment like they used to. In fact, Graham warned that too many long stays can signal to hiring managers that you are not agile. She noted that the average time spent in a role is now 4.2 years.

Her research has shown that hiring managers are struggling to fill roles that might be obsolete in the next year. Therefore, it’s imperative to continually reinvent yourself with the speed and pace of the market. Career planning should be a regular part of your day, she said.

“We all need to be looking at our career and saying, ‘Are these skills going to be the skills I’m going to need next year?’”

Conscious Branding

To reinvent and reframe your skills, Graham encouraged professionals to rewrite what she called their “career story.”

“We really need to have a concise, coherent career story that picks and chooses the pieces of our background that are most relevant to our audience,” she said. If you are looking to switch roles, she suggested:

  • Aligning your career story with your desired industry
  • Avoiding acronyms and jargon of your previous job and aligning your language with that of the target company
  • Framing skills to be seen as dynamic and flexible
  • Updating LinkedIn, resumes and social media

Creating Ambassadors

Despite application tracking systems and screening algorithms, the hiring process is still about personal connection and trust. Graham urges professionals to build dynamic networks that have both breadth and depth. She extols the benefits of ambassadors, people who know you personally and can communicate your specific career goals to decision-makers.

An ambassador, she said, “is not just somebody in a Rolodex, it’s not just someone that you met in passing, but it’s somebody who’s willing to go to bat for you.”

She has given her students at Wharton this scenario: If you lost your job right now, who are the eight people you would immediately call? The more expansive and personal those relationship are, the more possibilities you will have.

Graham noted that building relationships, versus chasing opportunities, will provide more opportunities in the long run.

Watch the webinar now to hear more tips from Graham about branding, hiring processes, and career reinvention.

A full library of previous Forté webinars are available to Premium Access Pass members. For $50/year, Access Pass members receive exclusive invitations to Women Lead webinars.  If your company is a Forté sponsor you may be entitled to free Access Pass.  Check our sponsors to see if your organization is involved.  Access Pass members also have exclusive use of the Forté Job Center; you can browse positions and post your resumé to be seen by leading companies seeking top talent.

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