Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review: Reinventing You by Dorie Clark

Job security is on the mind of many professionals lately, at least the ones I speak with. There are many reasons why, but the main ones stem from corporate layoffs, the rolling out of the Affordable Care Act, and having to relocate for personal reasons. Others wake up one day and find their calling, but are afraid to leave their stable jobs to pursue a passion.  What many of them want to know is how they can hold on to their jobs or thrive in their new ones. 

In her chapter Leverage Your Points of Difference out of her book Reinventing You, Dorie Clark offers several suggestions. She writes that by focusing on our strengths, we can learn to accomplish those goals. First, we need to discover what sets us apart from our peers and use those qualities to our benefit. Even if we're venturing into another profession or transitioning to a dream job, we can succeed once we learn to use our skills to pursue new opportunities. 

To highlight her point, she introduces readers to several professionals who wanted to make daring career changes. Each one was tenured in a starkly different career before venturing on a mission to rebrand their image. They were guided by a need to do something different although they were established in a noted career path. The attorney who became a wine coinessoir, the psychologist who created comic books encouraging interfaith understanding. Both analyzed their skills and believed they had the ability to use them in unconventional ways.  The attorney used her multilingual expertise to  relate to winemakers in the international markets, and the psychologist used his expertise in human behavior to unite people of different faiths. But it wasn't an easy sell initially. They had their doubts, but with a pinch of passion and a dash of determination, they finally relented to their calling and excelled. 

So how did they do it? Dorie Clark explains it in three simple bullet points:

       • Identify those qualities you possess that most people are unfamiliar with.  For example, you play an unusual instrument, speak an unconventional language, or have volunteered abroad.  
        • List your professional skills, both practical and qualitative. Are you good with computers or interacting with others? Now prove it with two examples that show you're an expert. 
        • Finally, combine the two lists to determine what attributes set you apart or allow you to transfer those skills. 

Other pieces of advice she offers are to turn your shortcomings into advantages, think creatively about your skills as opposed to applying them literally and update your old skills by adopting them to your environment. By taking these steps, you learn more about what makes you unique and how to stay memorable and employable. 

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