Friday, August 9, 2013

Reinventing You

Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future by Dorie Clark (2013)

Disclaimer: I've known Dorie for probably 15 years now, and I've always found her smart and insightful. She's exactly the sort of person that people go to for advice, so I'm glad she's compiled it in this new book.

Reinventing You is for anyone who wants to make a career transition - a promotion, a new job, or a complete change to a different field. It can be difficult to compete even when your experience closely mirrors the position advertised, but what if your background is unusual or in a different field? In a series of clear, concise steps Clark describes the best way to leverage your strengths, build a narrative, and present yourself in the best light.

Organized in a linear way, each chapter represents a step on your way to your new professional image. The writing is conversational and succinct, with just enough real-world examples to illustrate the point at hand. Each chapter begins with a list of objectives and ends with a bulleted summary, which I appreciate in a book of advice because it's easy to go back and skim for salient points without having to reread it entirely. Because she sticks to the point, it's a pretty quick book to read, ideal for some who is making a career transition - you need to leave yourself time to focus on the real work ahead of you.

What sort of advice will you get from this book? The first chapter "Recognize Where You're Starting" advises an evaluation of your current professional brand. (You have one, even if it's not intentional.) This includes activities like examining your online presence and creating a focus group of friends and colleagues to learn more about how you are viewed by others. A "Try This" sidebar in "Research Your Destination" suggests making of list of people you think are doing the most interesting things, identifying what they have in common, and brainstorming goals for yourself based on those commonalities. In "Test-Drive Your Path" you will find suggestions on trying out a new direction before making a commitment, like volunteering, job shadowing, or joining a board to gain experience. The chapter "Developing the Skills You Need" contains, among other things, a discussion on when it's worth it (and when it's not) to go back to school.  These are just a few examples pulled from what is a pretty comprehensive step-by-step guide to career improvement.

I don't read a lot of books of this type, so I can't adequately compare it to others on the topic. But as someone who has spent a great deal of time job hunting in a competitive market, I appreciate the author's thoughtful analysis and found her advice incredibly helpful. Though much of the book uses the language of business, I found it just as applicable to those of us who work for in the non-profit sector. Anybody trying to improve their career would do well to take this advice.

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