Everybody has a story to tell – you do, too. That story can help you land the job of your dreams by inspiring others to action. How?
Below, we will discuss what your professional story is and what it should include. We’ll also talk about how following resume best practices and keeping your resume up to date, building an online presence, and reading extensively can help you craft your story.
What is a professional story?
A professional story—also called a career story or career narrative—is a “concise, clear, and compelling” answer to the question, “What do you do?”
Fast Company states that your narrative should tell “your story clearly, honestly, and convincingly.” It should “articulate an overall story about yourself, including where you are coming from, what you’re seeking, why you feel ready to take on a new role, what kind of company are you looking for, and what value you can add to the hiring company.”
A professional story can help you land a job. But, how exactly?
Your professional story will build your confidence in yourself – your value and abilities. Having previously considered succinct career points will help you speak or write freely at a job interview, networking event, chance encounter, resume cover letter, or elsewhere. This confidence, in turn, may motivate others to hire, promote, or recommend you.
Crafting your career story
Your career story should highlight your positive attributes while framing any issues (such as career gaps, job changes, or setbacks) in a positive light. Professional stories typically consist of the following:
- Impact statements
- Case studies
Let’s discuss each of these in turn.
What are you passionate about? What kind of results or impact does your work generate? These questions can inform your impact statement.
Maybe you support your team so that they can lead or create. Perhaps you improve people’s lives through a product or service. Think about the “big picture,” and create three to five confident statements.
Next, think about the skills that allow you to accomplish the statements discussed above. List three to five important skills for each statement.
Brief case studies
Finally, write brief descriptions or “mini case studies” that “prove” your impact statements and skills list to be true. Ask yourself, “What evidence is there that I am passionate about this or have accomplished this?”
Here, you are telling a story in one to two paragraphs. Describe specific events, your actions, and their outcomes. Write at least one example for each impact statement.
If you have written your impact statements, skills lists, and case studies, you now have a professional story! Refer to it from time to time for inspiration, and update it as your goals and interests change.
More ways to enhance your career story
Think of your professional narrative as a living document – as long as you are in the workforce, it will continue to change and grow. You can use it to take control of your career. Take the reins and manage your career by doing the following:
Polish your resume
Refer to your resume and update it at least as often as you do your career story – once or twice a year, according to expert advice. Keep your resume to one page, and follow the current resume writing conventions. Consider using an online resume template for a well-polished look.
Fill in the gaps
Together, your resume and professional story may reveal areas where you wish you had done better. That’s okay! Rather than becoming discouraged, direct your energies to learning new skills to fill in those supposed gaps.
Build your online presence
Use your resume to build a LinkedIn profile if you have not already done so. You can also use other media, such as a personal website or social media.
When you do so, let your professional story inform what you post and how you present yourself. Align your personal brand with your career goals.
You might even consider publishing articles or longer works online or in print. This can establish you as an expert in your field.
Absorb the right voice
We’ve been talking a lot about distinct types of writing – narratives on your career story, resume cover letters, blogs and social media posts, etc. In so doing, it is important to capture the right “voice” – a tone of writing that your intended audience will relate to.
You can do this by regularly reading reliable business news sources or publications specific to your field. In this way, you will “absorb” the familiar and accepted speech and writing patterns.
You can craft a compelling professional story by identifying your strengths and building a narrative around them – where you’ve been, what you’ve accomplished, and where you plan to go.
You can enhance it by keeping your resume up to date, addressing any deficiencies, and using your resume to build your LinkedIn profile. You can also expand your brand through your personal website, social media, and perhaps even in print. You will need to bolster your writing skills and use the right tone and voice for your intended audience.
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