Landing that dream job is only an interview away. You will need to put forth a tremendous amount of effort to open doors to opportunities in your new chosen path. It’s not an easy task. Many employers will judge you for past accomplishments and experience and not for what you prepared yourself to accomplish. Work to craft a compelling story that merges your past experience with your current initiatives. Crafting your career transition story can be a daunting task for a variety of reasons, especially if you have been terminated or overlooked for a promotion. Some people experience difficulty opening themselves up to friends and revealing that they have been terminated, do not have the skills, experience, or management abilities to take their career to the next level, or they simply can not figure out what to do with their life. Other people have an opposite response, often feeling compelled to reveal every painstaking detail about their state of affairs.
Crafting your story enables you to avoid either the anxiety you may be feeling or the urge to reveal all. Your story is the summary and description of your experience, your skills and knowledge, and the contributions you have made. It builds on your past experience to communicate the best parts of you in a way that makes it easier to enter the new career. The purpose of your story is to find the best fit between yourself and potential employers or potential managers.
What is a story?
A career story is a series of finely-tuned messages combined together to articulate your current situation, past events, and future direction. Your story must convey information to a variety of audiences, including hiring managers, friends, colleagues, and family. Crafting a career story involves knowing what to say and what not to say with different audiences. Providing too much information can hurt you just as much as providing too little information. If you provide too much information, you may reveal things that are better left unsaid – that do not help you attain your next goal. This might be exposed in the context of bad-mouthing a co-worker or boss, revealing company secrets, exposing your flaws, and more. By not providing enough information, people might suspect you are hiding information, do not have the right skills or experience to do the job, or will not be a good culture fit.
The story you develop must contain a series of messages including: why you are in your current situation, why others should care, and why they should help you. A message must explain what is valued and what is at risk, and it must align you with others who share your values and concerns. Each message must be short, simple, and repeated to be heard. To be effective, your story must be included in every communication – written and oral – and used in all your career development tools. Knowing your story also means knowing what your story is not.
- Stories are not spin. They have a firm foundation and require a great deal of thought and reflection.
- Your stories are a roadmap, but you must know where you want to lead people. Start stories where people are and then take them where you want them to go.
- Your stories should not always be delivered by you. Credibility and persuasion may require different voices and different spokespeople.
Developing Your Story – Rules of Thumb:
Rule 1: Have one main message with up to three underlying themes to support it.
Rule 2: All messages should support your main career goal.
Rule 3: Messages do not change frequently. For messages to have impact, they must be repeated over and over again.
Rule 4: Messages can be tailored for specific audiences, while still remaining constant.
Rule 5: Consistent messages should permeate all of your communications efforts, not just a contact within the resume, cover letter, or personal development plan.
Rule 6: Messages must be simple. They are ideas that can be explained in one or two sentences – if it requires a paragraph or two, keep working.
Rule 7: Remember: messages take time to create. Do not rush the process.