More people change careers more frequently than ever. Nearly 50% of workers will take a dramatic career turn at one point in their lives, and the average age they do it is 39 years old. Research has also shown that nearly 91% of millennials expect to change jobs every three years — that’s a lot of leaps taken from one position to another!

A career change isn’t always the easiest decision to make. That is why at ESCP Business School, our students are accompanied in the fulfilment of their latest career goals. The recipe to success? The effort and collaboration we put into developing professional self-knowledge for each student. And because getting to know yourself is only 50% of the job, we double that with techniques of self-branding designed to help you get the position of your dreams. Intrigued? Let’s take a tour of the many ways getting to know yourself is key to a well-managed career change.

Professional self-knowledge: identifying your strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations

Here is a skill they don’t teach children at school, and adults may be lacking until late in their lives: self-knowledge. When entangled in the everyday, it might be hard for us to just stop, take a breath, and assess where we’re at on an emotional and professional level. Some people might wake up from a life of slumber after years of working in a field they always knew wasn’t right for them. When a career change becomes necessary, whether we have decided it or not, it can be difficult to identify which way we’re headed. On average, it takes 11 months for someone to make a move once they’ve decided their job just wasn’t working for them anymore. That’s a lot of thinking and planning before actually making the jump. The driving factor for such career changes is oftentimes the search for something we all aim for: happiness. People looking for a career shift might be unhappy with the workplace culture at their job or dissatisfied with management, or the nature of the tasks.

Whether you want more flexibility in your job like 84% of people leaving a position for another, or just don’t feel valued at your job anymore, you might want to take a close look at what makes you whole as a working part of society. When going for a career shift, identifying your strengths and weaknesses and your desires and ambitions is key to getting into a more satisfying job. Self-knowledge can be defined as having a clear and accurate perception of who you are. Questions such as: “What drives me?”, “What am I most curious about?” and “How do I relate to others and what kind of contribution do I want to make?” should all be considered and answered. “Getting a clearer vision of their own goals and ambitions is a continuous process our MBA students undergo throughout this 10-month programme. By challenging them in their reasons and motivations, we help them identify their values and their “why”, who they want to be in three-five years, and to be proactive by making this their own project to take care of,” ESCP Career Services representatives tell us.

Self-knowledge can be defined as having a clear and accurate perception of who you are.

Once you’ve started to define your personality traits accurately, objectives can be set using the SMART technique. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attractive, Reasonable, Timed. This technique will help you get a clearer vision of the actions you can take to achieve your career change. And so will ESCP’s MBA Career Services: “One of our tools consists of highlighting the use of carrying out self-assessment and self-reflection for change (for instance, by integrating feedback from others), of the identification of concrete steps and tasks (in other words, to develop a plan to change tracks) to be able to do the career change, and whom to contact or with whom to get in touch with to concretely implement it.” Knowing yourself is key, but knowing other people is also essential to a successful career change.

When looking for a job: personal branding or the art of telling your own story

Once you have defined your aspirations and are aware of your qualities and shortcomings (it’s okay, everyone’s got some!), you’re gonna want to find a smart way to tell your story to the world (and to potential employers). Just like some Instagram influencers have mastered the art of branding their personality and lifestyle, you’re going to want to introduce yourself attractively. To do that, mastering the timeline of your own story is key. We all love a good tale with a strong hero, this is why to provide an engaging story to future employers, you should examine your past experience looking for moments of overcome challenges or success. Yep, that’s storytelling, but about yourself. It is about starting with your life and its milestones, to develop a story that will gradually become more and more complex and fascinating as you narrate it.

Personal branding could be defined as “what people say about you when you are not in the same room”.

But personal branding does not have to be epic at all times: “Personal branding could be defined as “what people say about you when you are not in the same room”,” say the interrogated members of the MBA Career Services. Several workshops, coaching sessions and networking events on this topic are organised throughout the 10 months of the MBA programme, where students learn how to present their personal brand while being creative but also avoid personal clichés. Indeed, and for instance, they continuously work on their Elevator pitch -how to sell themselves in one minute or less- as this is an important tool for many networking events, and on how it can be adapted for different situations (e.g.: while taking into consideration the cultural diversity to better perform in international environments). Personal branding consists of rethinking how to use their natural style (the unique combination of skills and experiences that make them who they are) when telling the story of their career, and how they can have an impact, adapt and effectively differentiate themselves.”

Looking for assistance? Why not reach out to our Career Services

If you are looking for help regarding the best way to initiate a successful career change, our dedicated team is here to assist you. The MBA Career Services make a permanent link between companies and the MBA students’ professional goals by enabling them to build their network: “We provide students with a toolbox that they can keep on using after they complete the MBA programme to refine, re-measure and test the different career options they are considering.”

In addition to the Career advisors and coaches, activities and events that allow our MBA students to develop knowledge of specific corporate environments, they have the possibility to choose a mentor proposed by the ESCP Alumni Association to guide and support them in the short, medium or long term in the realisation of their career plan. The MBA in International Management programme promotes change, focuses on enriching the expertise and leadership of our students, and is designed to accelerate international careers while emphasizing the importance of setting realistic goals. In other words? At ESCP, your career is in good hands.