Why Your Career Story Might be Falling Flat and How to Fix It

Storytelling is such a buzzword right now. From virtual reality to major motion pictures, stories capture our attention and draw us in. They’re much more memorable than ads and more relatable than facts alone.

As someone who helps people on the daily navigate their career transitions, I’m a huge proponent of crafting a sincere career story. Let’s just say connecting the dots between where you’ve been and where you’re going is my sweet spot.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized I kind of suck at telling my own story.

your career story
your career story

A NEW JOB MARKET

When it came to career advice, the most common I received as a young professional was two-fold:

  1. Cut down your resume to one page
  2. Only include positions that are relevant to the job for which you are applying.

That’s great and all but this advice alone leaves out a huge piece of the puzzle.

Just as we crave a good story in our personal lives, so do hiring managers as they search for the perfect candidate.

This is why social media is now part of the job search and why LinkedIn has added a visual component to the profile. People no longer care just about where you worked and what you did. They want to know what that looks, sounds, and feels like.

THE MESSY MIDDLE

What I do, who I am, and how I help are all pieces I’ve had on my website since day one. The problem is, I never quite felt like I was telling my whole story.

Sure, there were snippets here and there – how I fell into my first job, when found a volunteering role, and how I discovered my “dream job.” But the connection between that point and where I am now got really blurry.

It was easy to focus on the struggle. Those moments are imprinted on my memory like a tattoo. What was much harder was talking about the struggle.

I’ve always had a real fear of failure. When you’re as focused on succeeding as I am, you tend to leave out the messy middle.

EVERYONE LOVES THE UNDERDOG

Recently I submitted my about page for feedback in my mastermind group and was surprised when it was returned with pages of comments.

One of my peers said, “It feels like you’re building up and then – BOOM – you quit your job and become a coach. What was the transition from one to the other?

She continued, “I was going to say it’s missing the second act. The one where you had to face your fears about choosing the wrong thing. Where you had to get vulnerable and change it up. The one where things gets messy and you had to stretch yourself.

How ironic for someone who specializes in career transitions, that I had trouble owning up to my own non-linear path!

{BTW: you can read my updated story here.}

WRITING YOUR OWN “ABOUT ME” PAGE

Maybe you’ve been thinking about changing careers for a while. For one reason or another you haven’t taken the necessary steps to change course. It might be because you don’t know what it is you want to be doing next. It could also very well be because you think you don’t have the background to make the leap.

When approaching a career change, we often think we have to hide what we’ve been doing before this point. In actuality this is what makes us a strong candidate.

This means being up front about who you are and how you got here. All those twists and turns make for a compelling story. And by owning that story and telling it over and over again, you begin to believe it. You must believe your story before you try to convince others.

Even if you don’t have your own website, imagine what you would say on your about page. Who are you talking to? Imagine this person. Are they an employer? What questions might they have about your experience? What do they want to know about each step that got you to today?

Write it all out. Don’t worry about length or cleaning it up.

This is how you start.

You can worry later about summarizing it and tailoring it to a specific position. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, getting started is the hardest part.