Seven Ideas to let go of Your old Career Image to Build Your Personal Brand

Angie Weinberger - Career Image and Personal Brand

Did you go to a party last night and ask Karen, the other Expat Spouse across from you, how she managed her transition to Switzerland? And did Karen say: “Just reinvent yourself!”.

This is a dreadful sentence to tell any newbie in a new place. 

This sentence is advice you often hear when you lose your work or are still looking for a new job in Switzerland. 

You are a New York, London, Frankfurt, or Mumbai professional. You have a career stamped on yourself. Telling you to reinvent yourself is like saying, “Why don’t you just run a marathon after recovering from COVID-19.” People make it sound so simple; it makes you feel guilty and shameful because it seems to them it’s something that you can or should do.

Not only is reinventing yourself a considerable challenge (on top of the extra obstacles you will face in a new and less well-known environment), but doing so often means letting go of your dreams. And accepting that is a big challenge in itself when you are sacrificing your goals so that your partner can follow theirs.

At parties, you say, “I’m a Senior Consultant / Director / Lawyer / Doctor / Scientist.” Then, you talk about the pleasure of long-distance travel in times of terrorism, or you mention that your partner is away too often and that the kids know the nanny better than their parents, or you explain that you never go to the city because you feel that childcare is too expensive. You rather stay at home than trust your kids to another person.

Your professional reputation has fueled your ego, and you did everything to improve it. You attended courses, webinars, conferences, and networking events and read everything you could about the topic while commuting to work. Not to mention that you routinely ensured that your social media profiles reflected your success only, and you confirmed your name was published at least once a year.

Then out of the blue (or even because you were following a long-term idea), your spouse gets a job offer in Basel, Switzerland, or your job is outsourced to Pune, India. After the initial excitement or shock, you start to consider what a career change means for you right now. You can consult blogs and books on the matter. From one day to the next, you worry about your branding as a professional. And you might even notice that you don’t know what you want.

Finding out what you want is difficult, so I recommend you work with a career coach to develop a vision of your next role and a long-term career vision. What I found even more challenging, though, is to let go of my old career. 

I had acquired a status in HR, and in my new role, I felt like a beginner again. In our cultural context here in Switzerland, we say, “Schuster bleib bei Deinen Leisten!” (Cobbler, stick to your last!). We are encouraged to change our chosen career paths.

 

The symbols of the Global Nomad

Let’s hang with the cobbler analogy for a while. I might not have told you yet that my grandpa was a shoe repairer in post-war Germany, and my grandma ran a shoe shop for the longest time, so I have a particular fondness for shoes, and the smell of leather and glue always brings me back to their workshop.

We know well that a shoe we have worn for a while is comfortable. New shoes often feel too tight or too big for us to fill. Imagine getting out of your patent leather shoes and into hiking boots. That would be comparable to the change you are going through.

It would help if you broke your new career boot in. You might know consciously that the hiking boot is more practical, fits better to your personality, and has more value on icy mountain grounds, but you still feel the burden of a heavier shoe.

It would be best to throw your old patent leather shoe into the mental “Altkleidercontainer” (the recycling bank for old clothes and shoes). Here are seven ideas on how you can do that.

  • Advantaging: Write down all the advantages of the hiking boot. Think of every aspect of your new career and how it looks and feels. Run meticulous research. Interview industry experts and speak to friends who work in this area.
  • Wearing: Work in your hiking boots at least one or two days a week by volunteering or finding a cause in this profession worth supporting. Get a consulting project before you commit full-time.
  • Pretending: Pretend you are already experienced in walking with the hiking boot, attend seminars and networking events wearing a badge with your new role, and have business cards printed.
  • Updating: Update all your biographies, social media profiles, and websites and show that you are wearing the boot already. Mention your new role and functional title. Be the career you want to be.
  • Noting: Leave post-its in your office, bathroom, and home with a visual anchor. For example, if you want to become a scientist working in the pharma industry, you could jot down a company logo that you find attractive or a picture of you with security glasses.
  • Spacing: Develop a space that signifies “productive work” in your new career. It could be an office or an area on your kitchen table. This area is reserved for work in your new job only.
  • Storytelling: Write down your ideal client’s story, someone who will depend on the results or fruits of your new labor. Who is that person, what is essential to that person, and how does this person live?

 

These are seven ideas for letting go of your old career and reinventing yourself. There you have it. Do let us know how you are handling it, and if you need help progressing, you can always email me.

The ‘Bourne Effect’ – Why you Need a Personal Brand

Expat Spouse Career Program HireMeExpress – From Frustrated to Fantastic in 90 Days.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Some HTML is allowed

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.