Dear Career Coach,
I'm a long-time freelancer with a fairly diverse background, and it’s time for a change in careers. How do I maintain my value in a new industry?
Hungry for Value
Dear Hungry for Value,
That’s a great question that many people who go through a major career change struggle with. There’s all this experience you’ve accumulated in previous chapters through challenges that might seem out of context in your new direction.
My guess is that to have excelled as a long-time freelancer you must already be great at:
- Understanding the needs and wants of your clients
- Delivering a valuable work product and service
- Routinely exceeding your client’s expectations
The good news is: Those are universally desirable qualities, which means you shouldn’t struggle to prove your value in your new industry. Your work ethic, attention to detail, and relationship management will make sure of that.
The question you seem to really be asking is: How do I translate the value of my previous experience in a new industry? I have two straightforward exercises to help you do that.
What Story Have You Been Telling?
As we move through our careers, we organically develop language to describe what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. It tends to show up when we meet new people, update our families, or when we move within our industry.
You need to identify what story you’ve been telling yourself and others during your freelance years. Think of it as a memoir exercise.
Here’s how it works: Start at the beginning of your freelance career and write out the story of this chapter. When you’re done, read it back to yourself and—if you’ve been honest and taken your time—you’ll notice patterns and themes emerge.
When you pick it apart, you’ll identify the best parts—the parts you’re most proud of, the parts that accurately honor your skill, experience, and competency, are the ones that reveal your unique value.
What Story Do You Want to Tell?
As we transition away from what we’ve been doing and toward the new, we have to figure out how to tell our story in a way that resonates and is attractive to that new audience. Once you’ve determined what industry you’d like to transition toward, you have to take the unique value you identified in the previous exercise and write a new story.
Identify three companies you admire in this new industry. Study the language they use to describe their challenges, wants, needs, and objectives. (Company websites and job listings are helpful resources to zone in on the language of your new audience.) Now, take the story you drafted in the previous exercise and re-write it using the industry language you’ve identified.
It’ll take some time to become great at communicating your unique value in the new industry, but these exercises will help you inventory and recognize the value you inherently carry with you wherever you go and help you get better at telling your new story.
As long as you stay curious, hungry, and continue to embrace new challenges, your value will always evolve with you.
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