Industry News

Is It Time to Reinvent Yourself?

By Ilise Benun of

Have you noticed there is no longer any such thing as job security?

Just look around for the proof. Anything can happen to anyone at any time and you have to be ready to find something new.

I don’t mean to be a pessimist – but that is simply the reality.

No one can afford to be dependent on one employer or one gorilla client. And no one can afford to be complacent with their skills. We must always be learning and growing if we want to survive, much less thrive. Now more than ever.

In fact, that’s why HOW Design Live is so important – it’s where designers go to keep learning, to keep growing, to find out what’s coming next and what their employers and their clients need to be preparing for, if they don’t want to be left behind.

Another way of talking about evolution is reinvention, the title of one of Dorie Clark’s books, as well as one of the many topics she and I discussed in the podcast interview we did in preparation for her keynote at HOW Design Live, Building Your Brand as a Creative Professional.

Dorie has an interesting take on reinvention. She distinguishes between “Reinvention” (with a capital R) and “reinvention” (with a lower case r). Here’s how:

“Reinvention” refers to a big dramatic moment. You’ get laid off or you just can’t take it anymore! It’s time to find your true calling! It can be exciting or traumatic or both. If you prefer that your Reinvention be less on the traumatic side and more on the exciting side, then you must embrace “reinventions,” small gradual shifts and skills building efforts that make us more resilient and adaptable and better prepared for the big Reinvention when it happens.

Reinvention (the dramatic kind) is common and perhaps most challenging among those “of a certain age,” so here are some of Dorie’s job-search tips from a New York Times article.

  • Make a special effort to familiarize yourself with social media and the new technology — they’re a proxy for how ‘with it’ you are.
  • Recognize that you’re likely to be overqualified for certain jobs. It could be the elephant in the room, so it’s important to bring it up first. Maybe say that you’re looking for a new adventure, you don’t need to be the boss, you’re ready to be a team player.
  • Surprise people to counter any fixed image they may have of you. Your résumé may say one thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing you can do. Show you’re serious about reinventing yourself, perhaps by volunteering or writing a blog — something that forces people to see you in a new way.”

She also suggests “reconnecting with dormant ties” — people you had a good relationship with years earlier. They may be able to open doors or have ideas that you hadn’t thought of.

I, too, have been coming across a lot of people who are in the process of reinventing themselves “mid-career” and I’ve noticed that the confidence they had developed through previous professional experiences doesn’t translate into the latest “Reinvention.” I’ve been calling these people “experienced newbies” and I’ve been interviewing some of them for the MarketingMentorPodcast.comlisten to those here. You’ll see you’re not alone.

Listen to my entire interview with Dorie Clark here and then join us at HOW Design Live, April 30-May 3 in Boston. Details here: