Amid recession professionals look to reinvent themselves

"It's never too late to be what you might have been." - George Eliot

You've recently been laid off after 25 years in the financial services industry. What now: finance executive turns yoga instructor? The answer to that question is a resounding…maybe? Read on and we'll explain.

Undoubtedly, these are challenging times. And right now economic uncertainty is driving an increasing number of experienced professionals to reconsider their careers... and reinvent themselves. But before you trade in your laptop for a chef's apron, it may be wise to consider not just the consequences, but also the potential costs of your career decisions.

As layoffs dominate headlines and recession grips the country, those that have been laid off or fear for their jobs may be growing increasingly anxious... even desperate to know where their next paycheck is coming from. They are looking...sinking...scrambling. But according to Certified Business and Life Coach, Maggie Baryk, it's at times like these when you can accidentally redefine your life's path. And that can be a very costly mistake. Taking a step back and working with a career coach may help you avoid this pitfall. In short, being focused during an ambiguous and anxiety-ridden time is a true measure of success.

Who Can Benefit from Career Coaching?

Coaching services are available to anyone, but Baryk says there are two groups of people who will benefit from them the most. The first group is comprised of individuals looking to get to the next level within their profession (think visibility and responsibility). This group of professionals may also want help in breaking old habits, plotting goals, honing their networking skills, or simply better understanding their talents.

The other group of people with the most to gain from a career coach is comprised of professionals looking to reinvent themselves. Whether they have been laid off, redeployed, or are reentering the workforce, they are looking for something new - either by chance or design. Most often, Baryk says, this group has a sense of their accomplishments and value but has a difficult time expressing them. Essentially, they need a marketing and PR campaign to either capture the attention of a new employer or find the right new opportunity.

It Can Be the "New You"

So how do you reinvent yourself? Or decide if you even should reinvent yourself? According to Baryk the first step is to get the emotion out... and the logic and reason back in. Seeking the advice of an experienced career coach will enable you to do just that and articulate an actionable plan. "It doesn't have to be the old you, it can be the new you. A career coach will help you to take back control, reach beyond yourself and define your goals," says Baryk. In the words of author George Eliot, "It's never too late to be what you might have been."

"Take back control." What does that mean exactly? Essentially, you can and should manage yourself just like a CEO runs a corporation. But reinventing yourself during a time of transition first requires some soul searching. Essentially, professionals seeking to reinvent themselves should first understand the consequences of their decisions. Baryk says, "There is a big difference between a job and a life's path." In short, you must be able to manage the transition and not have the transition manage you.

Now What?

The first step in a time of transition is to take an honest inventory of yourself. That includes an accurate assessment of your personality, skills, education, certifications, experience, and risk tolerance. For example: do the opportunity costs exceed the fees associated with a decision to go back to school or pay for new certifications? A career coach is in a position to help you affirm and validate the things you know to be true and dispel any myths about yourself…before they become expensive mistakes. "You must know yourself and understand who you are as a person. You must know what motivates you, what drives you and what you are qualified to do given your personality," adds Baryk.

Next, find and honor your niche. A career coach will help you define your mission statement. "It's much more than the objective on top of a resume," says Baryk. "Like any blue chip company, professionals in transition must have a clearly defined mission. Like these corporations, it will become the backbone of your success," she notes.

Once you know who you are as a product, the next step is to develop a marketing plan. Translation: Amid a growing pool of qualified talent, how do you promote and place yourself so you get noticed? Baryk, New York executive search firm, A.E. Feldman's resident career coach and resume expert, says utilizing career coaching services in the structured environment of a search firm provides the unique platform and resources necessary to help you develop and launch your marketing plan.

Resumes that Get Noticed

It may come as no surprise that resumes are an important part of any professional's marketing plan. "It is one essential part of an overall strategy," says Baryk. But as the pool of talent swells amid record layoffs, how do you get your resume to the top of the stack? According to Baryk, resumes that get noticed are (among other things): targeted, edgy, honest, and results-driven.

What does all that mean? First, know what you are going after and choose a style of resume to reflect that goal. Moreover, creativity alone doesn't cut it. Employers need to know what impact a candidate will have on their bottom line. It's all about ROI – are they going to get it and how soon. A resume should also outline measureable achievements, be results-oriented, demonstrate leadership, and quantifiably detail achievements that would enhance ROI. Honesty is also critical. Baryk warns that recruiters and employers can quickly spot bologna on a resume.

Don't Look Back

Yes, the economic climate is uncertain and challenging, but according to Baryk, there is just one direction to take: move forward. "The first thing we do is recognize supply and demand. Acknowledge it…then get over it. The next step is to look at the situation as an opportunity," she says. Baryk tells her clients they must take the time to look honestly at themselves, to look deeper at what they have to offer and reinvigorate themselves. That may mean professionals are looking at a career move outside of their mindset and comfort zone. Paramount to success, she adds, is being able to maintain and enhance your self esteem.

About A.E. Feldman Associates, Inc.
A.E. Feldman Associates, Inc. provides help with career transition, career coaching, and resume writing. You can e-mail A.E. Feldman's President, Mitch Feldman or call (516) 719-7900 to learn more about the firm's career coaching and resume writing services.

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