With the click of the “SAVE” button the whole world knew my big, scary career move. One could argue I’d already made the boldest leap last December when I walked away from a successful 20-year career to take a year off to rest, recharge, and refocus. But I didn’t virtually shout my departure from the rooftop to my professional network. I didn’t pull the trigger and update my LinkedIn profile until today. Instead I spent the last ten months traveling around the country, reading great books, hanging out with some of my favorite people, and dreaming about my next career move, all while virtually hiding behind the safety of my previous job title and Fortune 100 employer.
Why was I brave enough to walk out of my job into an unknown future, but not brave enough to publicly change my profile? Initially it was because I didn’t want people to know I didn’t have my future all figured out. But as my new career direction became more clear, I was still reluctant to make any profile changes. Part of me wanted to keep one foot securely rooted in my former industry—you know, just in case this new career didn’t pan out. Can you relate? Are you sitting on a stale and outdated LinkedIn profile paralyzed by fear of what others might think?
Do you really think leaders from your previous industry and former colleagues wouldn’t help you just because you have made a change in career direction? Most of us have spent decades building professional relationships and a network full of people we admire, respect, and have achieved some level of success. There is power in collaboration and encouragement from our network, and that is especially true when we are making a change professionally. In my experience, people have been generous and encouraging, especially when they saw me taking a bold new step. People love an underdog, and people love those who boldly follow their dreams. We all want to play a part, even if only a small part, in a success story.
To bolster your success and career growth, a strong LinkedIn profile will certainly increase your chances. It’s almost inevitable that you will be forced to make your changes publicly known at some point. Let me encourage you, friends: stop hiding and start moving forward! Be brave and intentional with your next step. Do your research; look at strong online profiles of others whom you respect and admire, and then get to work! Start sketching out some ideas, words, and phrases that describe you and your experiences based on where you want your career to go. It’s best to create a few offline drafts. Then fine tune your profile to put your best foot forward to support your next transition publicly. Just don’t let fear drive you to procrastinate or delay sharing your updated and carefully crafted professional profile with the world. As Frederick B. Wilcox said, “Progress always involves risk; you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” I can’t wait to see you publicly and proudly standing on second base.
I’m curious about others’ experiences and feelings on making changes to their professional LinkedIn profiles. Is it the first or last thing you do when making a change professionally and why?