One evening, I spoke by phone to my friend John Murphy, AKA “Murph,” now of Human Arts Media. I was desperate for a way forward after losing my longtime job as a technical writer. He’d lost his job a year before and knew something about reinventing yourself. Murph made a wise practical suggestion that helped me break out of my dark paralysis. I’d like to pass it on.
Murph said I should stop thinking of myself simply as a technical writer, because I was probably a lot more than that. He pointed out that there were many things I did as part of the tech-writing job, and each one of these could potentially be a saleable job skill. He recommended I take an inventory of my sub-skills. You know, skills I hadn’t even noticed because I’d only picked them up being a conscientious tech writer.
For me, I realized that I could do a bunch of things I hadn’t considered:
- Tech writing had taught me how to be a decent writer in general. I could explain concepts clearly and in a positive light. I could help companies tell their stories better, and even help them with rebranding.
- Designing user-friendly documentation left me with layout skills and experience. These would serve me well in social media work, writing, sourcing and editing photos, and packaging.
- Technology is fun for me, so I’m comfortable on multiple platforms. I’m a bit of a Mac expert and have always telecommuted. I’ve been using the Internet for (amazingly) 21 years already, and so for me, the modern workplace fits like a glove.
- And then there are my musician/performing skills.
Anyway, that’s just me, and little by little, I am getting my income back together.
So if you feel like you’ve been robbed of the only thing you knew how to do, it’s probably not so. Try Murph’s advice for reinventing yourself: Look at all the things you can do, make a list, and start thinking about those skills as solutions you can provide professionally.
You may be as surprised—and relieved—as me.
Headline image by lilipilyspirit.deviantart.com