Advancing

How To Change Careers in a Knowledge Economy

change career

Perhaps you’ve heard of the phrase “Knowledge Economy,” popularized by Peter Drucker in The Age of Discontinuity.  If so, you’re most likely familiar with the idea that more and more of us work in positions that depend upon the creation, use, and manipulation of knowledge, as opposed to of materials or rote processes.  You understand that the skills that we need to work are changing. And, since you’re a visitor at the Ivy Exec website, I’ll take a wild guess and assume that you understand that the skills you need to find a job have changed. But what you may not understand is that your power to define your profession has grown enormously as well.

My key recommendation to you is to think about how your electronic footprint communicates who you want to be, professionally, and what you have to offer. Let’s take a look at three electronic leads that have helped me change careers.

A Bloggy Footprint
I was interested in moving from the education field to the technology field. As a result, I built up a series of blog posts on the topic. When I landed an interview with a prominent technology firm, I shared my url with the interviewer. She later wrote me to say that an article I had written about electronic textbooks in Texas resonated with personal experiences her family had had. I believe that this view constituted a key moment in my job search. My blog didn’t have a large following, numbers-wise, but its impact on my life had still been huge.

Don’t Let them Forget You: Regular Updates
Twice a year, I send out an update to professional and personal contacts about my achievements, plans, and interests. I make sure to make the note conversational and link-filled. The body of the e-mail is short but the links are rich. I recently was contacted by the head of a think tank that had passed me over for a job two years earlier. He wrote “I have been following closely your incredible career” before offering me interesting contract work. What convinced this gentleman, in the aftermath of my unsuccessful interview with him, that my career was “incredible”? One thing only: My semi-annual updates.

Trust the Crowd: Don’t Focus Too Much on Your Targets
Many folks will tell you how to use Ivy Exec, LinkedIn, etc. for targeted searches of companies that interest you or to scope out individuals you would like to meet. Those activities are critical. But don’t underestimate the importance of having an electronic network that is large and diverse enough to surprise you. I use Facebook, for instance, to share my thoughts on professional topics and to provide updates on issues at work that engage me. As a result, an acquaintance I haven’t seen in 20 years offered me his rich rolodex of contacts at my new firm. I wouldn’t have thought to seek him out for this sort of help but I did think to spend time digging up old contacts from the electronic universe.

Summing it Up
You are not the only person bombarded with social media opportunities; the people you seek to influence are in a similar situation. The challenge, naturally, is to get through to them. The opportunity, however, is that you can, through a few well-placed communications, shape the perceptions of those who have increasingly little time to evaluate you. If your electronic footprint is thoughtful, regular, and not over-targeted, I believe that you, too, can make the career change you desire.

About the Author

Barak Epstein is transitioning his career to technology management after working as a teacher and social science researcher.  He is currently pursuing an MBA (2012) at Rutgers Business School and serves as an Intern Sr. Graduate Advisor at Dell Inc.  Barak's earlier professional experiences include research in education and public health at Rutgers and UC-Berkeley, as well as six years of teaching in public and private schools in Washington, DC and New York City.  Barak holds an M. Ed. (2003) and B. A. (2000; history) from The George Washington University.  His blog posts on information management and organizational behavior can be read at knowledgeapproach (Feel free to reach out via the Contact Me link.) and at the Aleksandreia blog.  Barak is an IvyExec All Access member at IvyExec. More information about his professional background is available at linkedin.