Reinventing yourself

Sometimes, in order to change your career, you need to change yourself. There are many ways to do this – from attending a course or picking up a new skill to the wholesale reinvention of your character, appearance and attitude. So how far should you go?

In the music industry, anyone who has achieved any kind of longevity has reinvented themselves on a regular basis (Sir Cliff Richard being the exception that proves the rule). Stars such as Madonna and David Bowie seem to come up with a new image and a slightly new sound on an annual basis. Geri Halliwell became prim and proper as a United Nations ambassador, but quickly reverted to her former raunchy self when she wanted to start selling records again.

Get Noticed
Of course, the world of music is far more accepting of change than the business environment. A facial tattoo is the pop equivalent of an account manager opting for slightly baggier chinos on dress-down Friday. But there are still lessons to be learned. In order to keep bosses and potential new bosses interested you must make yourself noticed. Subtle changes in behavior and dress can achieve this.

Bad hair day
In politics, people’s careers are held hostage by the whims of public opinion. This leads to all kinds of reinvention – some successful, some not. Britain’s Conservative Party leader William Hague’s development has been painfully public. His aggressive new hair cut and recently passion for macho sports such as Judo have yet to make much impact on the public. But courtesy of his shock defeat at the last election, his leadership rival, Michael Portillo, has been able to change himself in private, testing each new aspect of his persona on the public only when he has been ready to do so. This has gained him a prime seat and the perfect position to to conduct a semi-covert campaign for the conservative leadership.

Popularity boost
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has managed not only to successfully remould himself – but a whole political party as well. And in the US, Al Gore’s new persona of ex-inhaling, sports freak and good ol’ boy seems to have boosted his popularity no end.

Be subtle
The secret of reinvention is subtlety. If you walk into work as a designer-suited, sharp-haired shark the day after turning up as your cuddly old jeans and sweatshirted self, people will just laugh. Changes should be gradual and they should sit comfortably with your personality. By all means smarten yourself up. Get fit even. And do get a haircut. But if you are a teaboy and you’re thinking of turning up at work dressed as Michael Douglas in Wall Street – well, don’t!

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career, life