5 Important Career Change Lessons from Barack Obama

'Barack Obama' photo (c) 2007, Llima Orosa - license:

Whether or not you have an interest in politics, I am sure you have heard the news that President Barack Obama has been elected for a second term, for “Four More Years!”. Personally I have a very minimal interest in politics and I never watch television in the morning, however I did tune in first thing on Wednesday morning to find out who had won. I tuned in just in time to hear Obama give his victory speech and as always his oration skills were second to none.

It started me thinking about leadership and what was required of Obama to successfully win a second term as President of the United States of America, particularly following a significantly tough first term. I then considered the key factors that contributed to his victory and how they could be used for a successful career change.


Obama became the first black president of a nation that only a few decades earlier, still had active racial segregation. As well as the challenges and opposition that came as a consequence of that, he also became president during one of the US’s worst economic times. Despite the criticism he received, in order to come back and win a second term as president, the belief he had to have in his own ability had to be unyielding.

Anyone considering a career change or a promotion needs to have the same self belief that enabled Barack Obama to not only become the first black president of the United States of America, but also become only one of seventeen presidents to be elected for a second term, despite the continued challenges the country faces. You need to believe in yourself and your plan when the going gets tough and you are faced with the many obstacles that you will undoubtedly face.


In order to convince the people of America that despite any concerns they had regarding his first term, he was still the best man to run their country, Obama had to be absolutely clear on what skills, qualities and experience he had over Mitt Romney.

Whether it’s a new job, a career change or a promotion, one thing you can guarantee is that you will be faced with competition. Not only do you need to be absolutely clear what skills, qualities and experience you will bring to your desired position, you also need to be able to articulate this. For a career change, this is even more important, especially if you have no previous experience of the career you wish to move into.

'adversity quote' photo (c) 2008, EvelynGiggles - license:


Not only do US Presidential election campaigns cost billions of dollars, they run for months. The moment a candidate declares that they will be running for the presidency, they begin informing the American people of their policies and the promises they are making. In order to win as many votes as possible to ultimately win the presidency, their message has to be absolutely crystal clear. Their message also has to be convincing and believable.

When considering a career change or promotion, as well as knowing what you have to offer, you also need to know exactly what it is you want. Additionally, when speaking to others either at an interview or through networking, they need to be clear about what it is you want and what you have to offer. Presidential candidates are managed as a brand and it is essential you create and manage your own personal brand.


Both presidential candidates represent a political party which in turn represents a set of values and beliefs. In order to connect with the voters, the message communicated by the candidates need to be consistent with the party they are representing. Furthermore, as the election campaign runs over such a long period of time, the candidate needs to ensure their message remains consistent throughout so that when it is time to vote, the American people trust and believe they will deliver everything it is they say they will (well in the way politicians do).

A common reason why so many people feel unhappy, fed up and unfulfilled in their job or career is because what they do on a daily basis is inconsistent with their core values, interests and passion. You need to identify your core values, interests and passion and ensure that your next career move reflects these as closely as possible. Additionally, your message to your new employer needs to be consistent. Ensure your CV is consistent throughout and reflects the industry, sector and job you are attempting to move into.


During his victory speech, Obama paid tribute to his wife, two daughters, the American people that voted for him as well everyone else on his team from his vice president to his campaign team. He recognised that without them, he would not be where he is today. His team believed in him, supported him and no doubt provided vital inspiration and motivation.

Changing job, career or going for a promotion can all be extremely challenging. They all require an incredible amount of self belief, commitment and determination. They all pose varying degrees of potential risk and challenges, that without a network of support, could prove to be too overwhelming if faced alone. It is essential that you have a support network around you, whether that is made up of friends, family, colleagues and/or a coach. It is also useful to have people who can provide valuable advice based on relevant experience.

Taking inspiration from Obama, you too can become the president of your career and lead yourself into a more balanced and fulfilled life.

Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will 

to become the person you believe you were meant to be.”

~ George Sheehan

About Leanne

Freelance blogger, qualified careers adviser, and certified life coach. Passionate about empowering women and young people to create a career & life they love.

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