Looking out at the 80+ attendees at a recent talk I was giving, I could see myself sitting there not sure of my identity in the marketplace. There was a time in my life where I was “transitioned” out of a job or what I thought was a career and was looking out at a very bleak future. I quickly understood how scary it was for some of the attendees who were older than most of the folks out in the job market.
One of the main things I wanted to share that day and now here in this article is that too often we hand over our identity and judge our worth based on our employment with a company. This is very common for those who are of the baby boomer and even the earlier half of Generation X who are finding themselves in transition.
My advise to the group was that they will have to adjust their thinking who controls their identity. As one from the tail end of the baby boomer generation, we came from the era of “children are seen and not heard.” So to jump right into social media and blog or what many of the attendees feel is “bragging” about yourself is not easy to do.
My Identity Struggle
Let me talk about this from my personal point of view. There was a time where I was in transition and was truly blocked and had no sense of or confidence in my skills outside of the structure of the company I worked for.
It was finally my wife who said to me to think about all the things that you did while working in the company. As I started to think about and list all of the things I was good at I began to look at myself as an asset to any company who I would work for. My thinking slowly began to change to where I had to understand that I would be bringing my talent to the company and we would work out a deal with the company in terms of salary etc. but I was in control of my talents and was in charge of my identity in the marketplace.
Next I was lucky enough to have my brother who was into marketing and got me convinced that I needed to share my thoughts online. Even today it is not my first reaction to always think of how to market myself but I no longer think it is a bad thing. My goal is to always share content with others and to help them.
I started writing and speaking at conferences about what I was doing and I felt confident that my way of doing things could be successful for the attendees and I started to get offers for short terms and long term jobs and work.
People in transition have to realize that they have to play in the sandbox of the younger generation in terms of marketing yourself. Don’t look at it as a negative. It is how the game is played now. If I get a resume, I look online to see if the candidate is writing, speaking, contributing to online forums so I can get a better idea of the person as a whole. Many articles have been written about companies looking for cultural fit. Just ask yourself this: What are they finding about me online and what could I add to provide more value.
I think that the easiest thing for people in transition to utilize first would be the blogging feature of LinkedIn. You could write some of your thoughts on what you have done or join industry groups where you could share conversations back-and-forth. Once you get comfortable, continue sharing content you read or inspires you. The more people can see who you are beyond the resume, the better.
The days of sending a resume and sitting waiting for a call are over. Time to grab your identity back and control the transition.