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Building your career narrative

Powerful stories take people on a journey and reveal things about you

· Career Narrative,Storytelling

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." Maya Angelou

The Power of Storytelling

Stories shape how others see us; storytelling advocates for us, explains, persuades, builds rapport and creates trust. How many times have you been asked "So, tell me about yourself" by someone and wished that you had answered in a more engaging way?

By default, we often turn to compelling arguments and hard data when we want to persuade someone or impress them but there is a growing body of neuroscience research shows that as humans our brains are hardwired to prefer and understand stories. Research shows that when a person tells a story and another person actively listens, their brains actually begin to synchronise increasing rapport.

 

Everyone has a Story​ -what’s yours?

Your motivations, life and career values, preferences, interests, passions, dreams, ambitions, achievements and skills all drive your story. ​Being able to weave these different narratives into a compelling whole will reveal a unique and very authentic personal account of who you are now, the challenges you have overcame, what you have learned about yourself on your career journey and where you want to go next.

You may think it is already fairly well established but could it actually be a work in progress? You will each have a very unique way of describing it which will allow you to leverage what makes you unique and differentiate you from others in an increasingly crowded space.

How do you reveal it?

Working out what the why of your story, reveals the plot.

Your story will have a narrative arc with underlying major themes. What will help move your narrative along ?​Try reflecting on the following :

  • What are the events, people and experiences that impacted you?
  • ​What links these disparate points in your journey? Think of values, interests, skills, accomplishments. ​
  • ​How did you face problems? What challenges did you overcome?
  •  How is your character and personality reflected in the actions, decisions  you took as an active protagonist?
No matter how random it might seem on actual paper, this reflective work will allow you to connect the dots of your career path.

Make your narrative relevant to your audience and your goals

  • Why do you feel you want to tell this story?
  • Why should the audience be interested?
  • What would make them want to share it?
  • What do you want the listener to think, do and most importantly feel?
  • What would they take from your story? If your story had a title, what would it be?

Work on your story, practice it until it feels natural sharing it with others. Your unique narrative will help you increase your professional visibility, make you more memorable and most importantly, help you discover and achieve your own very personal version of success.

Your Story will change as you do

Overtime your story may evolve into a portfolio of stories.

​ A strong professional narrative will help you re-frame your past in light of changes you want to make. It will help you articulate transferable skills and reveal your unique transition story​.

For some people, their career path is not always linear and doesn't always seem obvious or make sense when looked at on a CV or job application. Use cover letters, personal statements, interviews, social media and networking opportunities to share and promote your authentic career narrative, your personal brand and future goals, connecting and linking all the underlying themes into a compelling whole.

Think about the stories you currently tell? Which no longer serve you well? Which do you need to stop telling? Which can help make others look at you differently and close the gap between how you see yourself and you want others to see you?

Your Signature Story  

Congratulations! You have revealed your signature story ; a career narrative that acts like a clear signal cutting through all the white noise in a world crying out to hear compelling and authentic career narratives, not salesy marketing or over-mechanical elevator pitches.

Now you have reflected and authored your story, it's time to go out and share it with others and move people to action!