Should you re-brand your career as a leader?
As an executive, you’ve worked your entire career to build a powerful leadership brand. You have achieved many successes, and have an impressive portfolio and reputation built on technical mastery, business acumen, industry knowledge and leadership skills. Congratulations! You’ve proven that you have the brilliance, drive, and resilience to be a successful leader in today’s global economy.
But now you crave something different. A new passion has bubbled up and you need a different career challenge. You may be thinking, Is it worth the risk to re-brand and leave my current job to switch career tracks?
As a leadership coach inside a Fortune 100 company for the past 3 years, as well as having my own private practice as a career coach for the past 10 years I’ve helped more than 1,000 leaders re-brand and advance their career. In this article, I’m sharing what I’ve learned about the biggest hurdles leaders face when re-branding and tips to overcome them.
But first, let’s align on what re-branding means. Re-branding isn’t changing from one company to another. That’s just changing your job. Re-branding involves making a major career shift and rebuilding your reputation in a different industry or job role where you’ve never been before.
How can you minimize the risk of re-branding so you can reap the reward?
Get clear on the “why.”
Re-branding yourself early in your career is easy. Re-branding later when you’re an established leader is tricky. There’s more at stake. Reputation. Lifestyle. Money. The possibility of failure. Stepping into a new role where you have little influence, smaller turf and limited brand cache is humbling. It requires courage to let go of mastery you’ve worked hard to acquire.
To help yourself stay strong while you forge a new career path, get clear on your motivation and why you want to change. Take inventory of what you could gain in your new role such as challenge, growth, passion, etc. Also ask, What am I losing by staying in my current situation? It may be costing you time to write that book, energy to start that new initiative, or acquiring funding to launch that new company. Getting clear on why you want to leave your current situation will help you stay the course and take action to change your career.
Does re-branding mean a salary decrease?
Not necessarily, but you’ll need to be strategic. If you want to go from tech exec to a marketing leader, the first thing I recommend is to research the highest paying industries. PayScale’s “Economic trends: reflections on 2019, predictions for 2020” reveals that finance, healthcare, energy, retail, construction and real estate will be high growth industries in 2020.
Keep in mind that just because you have a job in a specific niche doesn’t mean that you must work in that specific industry. In other words, if you’re a leader in IT, it doesn’t mean that you have to work in the IT industry. There are all kinds of industries and companies that need experts in IT, finance, sales, HR, marketing, communications, PR, customer support, legal, business operations, management, leadership and other fields. I successfully upleveled my own career four times by switching industries.
Also, target the higher paying companies. There are companies within the same industry that pay more than others so do. Fortune’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies list is based on the top three year performers in revenues, profits and stock returns.
Finally, some job roles pay higher than others. I received a 32% salary increase simply by re-branding from a marketing to a technical role inside a Fortune 100 company. Same job grade, different role. Do your homework and research high paying industries, companies and job roles on sites such as GlassDoor.com and Salary.com
What if I fail?
There is a pivotal moment in every career change when you ask yourself, Am I REALLY going to do this? And then it happens… self-doubt creeps in. In our careers, as well as in life, change is always riddled with doubt. Fear of change. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown.
One of the secrets of re-branding is knowing how to set yourself up for success. Since moving into a different career requires that you have different skills and experience, you’ll need to be proactive and invest in yourself to skill up. Go get the advanced degree, training or specialized certification if it’s required. I worked with a General Manager at a Golf Resort who was passed over for several job opportunities after being laid off, because he wanted his next employer to pay for a required certification. In other words, he was being rejected from 6-figure jobs because he didn’t have a $3k certification. Invest in yourself to get the training, education and experience you need to re-brand your career.
What if you fail? There are different ways to look at failure. You could say that you fail if you don’t take the shot and try to re-brand your career. Let’s take worst case scenario and say that your new company, job or initiative fails. Then what? You’ll walk away with new knowledge, new experience, and a wider network. Failures are only failures if you don’t learn something from the experience. How could you use the experience as a stepping stone to your next career?
There’s a kind of quiet confidence that we all have down deep inside. A confidence that comes from knowing what we’re capable of doing. Believe in yourself and others will, too. As your Career Coach, my hope is that you re-brand into a new career where you feel fully empowered and appreciated.
Sherri Thomas is a leadership coach inside a Fortune 100 company, as well as Founder/President of Career Coaching 360. She has helped more than 1,000 executives and professionals pivot, re-brand and advance their career. As a leader helping organizations build diversity and talent management programs, Sherri has spoken at conferences and events across the world including the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Bali, Haiti, Israel, Canada, Mexico, Vietnam, Ireland and Kenya. Her award-winning book, “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster after a layoff, re-org or career setback“ was named 2013 Best Career Book by the Indie Book Awards. Her first book, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a powerful personal brand“ was previously #3 on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books. Download “15 Clever Ways to Get More Job Offers” free video training at CareerCoaching360.com