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Compiled and edited by Julie Tereshchuk

Dear Mentors,

In my career, I’ve spent many years of work in diversity, equity and inclusion. That prior focus is reflected in the kinds of organizations I worked for and titles I held. In recent years, I’ve decided on a new direction and focus for my career, in responsible technology. However, people (and even the LinkedIn algorithm!) keep recognizing me for my previous work rather than what I’m doing now/what I want to be doing going forwards. Should I leave some of my prior positions off my LinkedIn/website to more clearly brand myself in this new direction? Or is it better for people to know what my past experience has been?

Mentee

 

Dear Mentee,

Congratulations on refocusing your career and personal branding. I recommend keeping most of your past experience on your resume and LinkedIn, although early positions or internships may no longer be relevant at your experience level. 

Do consider tweaking the way you describe your work history. 

Focus on the skills, accomplishments and functions of previous work that support your new goals. Were you the go-to person for tech-related duties within the non-tech job? Did you take outside training or volunteer in a related or transitional field? Highlight your work ethic, dedication, reliability or other desirable professional skills. 

Were you inspired to make this career change because of something you learned or witnessed in your previous roles? Use this turning point or inspiration as part of your personal story, tying your experiences together. Potential employers are certain to ask. Hiding your background can backfire, so put it to work instead. 

Best of luck!

Sandra Kleinsasser

Dear Mentee,

Before leaving off past jobs that might create a gap in your work history, I’d first consider if there is a way to make your prior job titles less specific. For example, if your title was “Director of Equity and Inclusion,” maybe just change it on LinkedIn and your résumé to “Director.”

Then I’d look at rewriting the descriptions to emphasize more general responsibilities, or if possible, any responsibilities you had that are related to the work you want to do moving forward. Look at the responsibilities you had that aren’t specific to a certain role, like budgetary, supervisory, and decision-making responsibilities, and emphasize accomplishments related to those. In knowledge work, a lot of experience is portable, and if you craft your résumé with an eye to more general business skills, you can position yourself successfully for your new field.

Yours,

Maura Thomas

Dear Mentee,

Unless your past includes prison time, there’s nothing to run from, my friend!

It’s rare that any career is linear, and the more twists and turns it takes, the more opportunities there are to re-introduce yourself to your network. People will always remember you as the first impression you gave them, and that includes whatever your job title was at the time, it’s normal and not impossible to overcome.

Change your LinkedIn headline to reflect what you currently do, and start reaching out to people privately to update them on your efforts. Start thinking of yourself as a brand. (It may feel gross, but it’s how things work now – thanks, Internet!)

Rebrands are nothing new and it’s what we all go through with each new career path, so you can roll your eyes and embrace it, or enthusiastically embrace it. Either way, your only choice is to embrace it – you’ve got this!

Yours,

Lani Rosales