”I want to change careers, but I don’t know how to communicate my value.”

Not being able to communicate your value to a potential employer or client is an issue for obvious reasons. How will someone hire you when they can’t understand how you can help solve their problems and meet their goals? How can you negotiate to “get paid what you’re worth” when you can’t show the people with the pocketbook what that worth is?

Maybe you feel this way because you’ve only have one role for a long time and don’t know how your skills would translate into a new role.

Maybe you’ve been in one industry for a long time and aren’t sure how you would represent your strengths to someone in a different sector.

Or maybe you haven’t been in one place long enough to acquire expertise in any one thing and feel like an under-qualified generalist.

But let’s back it up sec because I’ve found that when my clients say, “I don’t know how to communicate my value,” there’s a bigger, underlying problem: “I don’t know my own value.”

You can’t expect to communicate your value to someone else until you know it for yourself.

So there are two issues to tackle when it comes to your value in a career change:

  1. Knowing your value
  2. Communicating your value

How to Know Your Value

The Worky Stuff

A mistake most people make is thinking that their value is the same as the results they can deliver.

That’s part of it.

The worky stuff (technical term) like your strengths, skills, abilities, subject matter knowledge, institutional knowledge, and the outcomes you can produce all contribute to the value you provide. When I work with clients, we identify all of that and they become experts in that aspect of their value.

Trust me when I say that knowing your transferable skills or being able to put a measurable result like “raised revenue by 15%’” on your resume is NOT enough. If you only know the worky stuff, you will massively undersell yourself to others AND set yourself up to have to constantly outperform your last metric-based success in order to feel successful. No bueno.

Your Inherent Value

If you want to do meaningful work, you also have to be clued into your value as a human. I call this your inherent value. It’s just you being you; no striving, nothing to prove.

Outside of work, who are you? What do you contribute to the world? To your relationships? How do you add value to the world just by being you?

Have an intellectual and visceral understanding of THAT and you will not only have more confidence, you’ll have a comprehensive view of what you have to offer.

Not convinced? Consider this:

People hire me for worky stuff because I can provide an effective career change strategy, have coaching and facilitation skills that can help them reach their goal, and a solid track record at helping people with similar values get the kind of outcome they’d like.

People also hire me because of who I am as a person. I suppose you could consider these skills, but they feel like default ways of being that I haven’t had to work at or develop. The number one “human” thing people have told me they hired me for? My calm.

It makes sense that people in a fear-inducing professional transition would value calm, but I didn’t even realize I was providing that until multiple clients gave me that feedback. Now I know that “calm” is a significant part of the value I bring to my work.

How much more confidence would you enter into an interview process with or start a business with if you knew the power you carried just by being present? My clients will tell you that it is life-changing.

You are more than a worker bot. You have to value yourself as more than a productivity machine or intellectual asset (prestige junkies, achievement collectors, and people who don’t have much of a life outside of work, I’m pointing my finger at you, especially).

How to Communicate Your Value

Once you know your value, communicating it becomes a heck of a lot easier.

With your newfound fluency of self, the last remaining step is to communicate your value in a currency that your audience accepts.

Just like you wouldn’t try to buy a car in the US with lira, you have to be mindful of the norms and preferences of the people you’re presenting to.

An accounting firm might be turned off by hearing about your “creativity” but would respond well to your ability to “problem-solve.”

A dance studio might not be moved by your facility with “team building” but love that you can “foster ensemble”.

You will never be able to please everyone or anticipate every little like or dislike, but keeping in mind the values, vocabulary, and worldview of the people you’re communicating with goes a long way.

Want to communicate your value in your career change? Make sure you know it, in its entirety, before you try to communicate it.

Laura Simms is an expert in meaningful work who challenges conventional wisdom by asking people to ditch their passions and start with purpose.

If you have too many passions, zero passions, or can't seem to combine your passions, try her purpose-first approach to find a career you love.  


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