You are the “story teller” of your own career.
Every day, people are creating perceptions and making assumptions about you based on what you're telling them. If you're sending the message that you've been short-changed, passed over or stepped on in your career, then people will see you as someone who doesn't have much value in the workplace.
BUT(!) if you're send a strong, clear message that you're a key contributor with some big successes under your belt, then managers, hiring managers and Sr. leaders will be more likely to give you job leads, job offers and bigger career opportunities.
Here are a few tips to help you frame your “career story”…
Stop being so humble.
Being humble is a career stifller. Yes, it’s a nice quality to have, but if you never talk about some of the successes you’ve had in the workplace, then your career is sure to sit on a shelf for the next 10 years.
I had lunch yesterday with one of my best friends from college, Arizona State University (Go Sun Devils! :)) who became an Emmy winning TV news reporter for NBC-TV in Phoenix. Now, at 50-years old, he has his own company AZ Freelance TV advising Corporate leaders as a Media Strategist. He told me that he’s ready to expand his business, but “I'm not the type of person to brag about myself.” This is a man who has interviewed three (3) U.S. Presidents (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.)
Seriously? How would anyone ever know to hire him if he didn't talk about his successes?
Talking about your accomplishments builds your credibility. It lets people know what you’re good at, what you can handle and what you can accomplish. It makes you stand out from the crowd. If you want to get noticed, then you’ll need to learn how to talk about your achievements, not in an arrogant kind of way, but more in an “I’m a key contributor who gets big results” kind of way.
Write down 2-3 of your biggest achievements over the past three years. Now, practice saying out loud in a sentence or two how you contributed to those successes and what the impact was to the organization. For example, “I was the technical lead for a new internal tool that was launched on the SAP platform. The tool is now saving the group $100,000 a year.” Or, “I was on the creative marketing campaign for the xyz product which helped the company gain 3% more market share.”
The key to getting more job offers, leads and opportunities is leaning how to talk about your successes. Nobody will know what you’ve accomplished unless you tell them.
2. Frame your story in a positive way.
One of my favorite chapters in my new book, “The Bounce Back” gives strategies on how to frame your story to hiring managers after you’ve been laid off or experienced a career setback. Managers, Sr. leaders, customers, and hiring managers create their perception of you based on what you tell them. If you talk about your career in a positive, confident way – then they are going to think of you as a positive and confident employee.
Earlier in my career I was laid off at a small advertising agency. A few months later, I bounced back and was hired as the Regional Marketing Manager for a Fortune 100 company. I believe that a large part of the reason I was hired was because of the way I told my career story to the Vice President. During the interview, I talked about how the company that laid me off was a great company and how much I loved my role and responsibilities. I truly believed in what I was saying and so my tone was very genuine. Then, I addressed the reason for my layoff which was, “I didn’t realize when I took the position that I was expected to fill the shoes of two employees. Even though I had some big results and was good at my job, I just simply couldn’t fill both of their shoes.” The VP called me the next day to tell me I was hired.
Everybody has setbacks in their career. E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y. It's not the setback that holds you back, but how you internalize the setback. The key is to frame your career story in the most positive, honest and confident way possible.
3. Don’t take yourself out of the game because you fumbled.
It happens to all of us. Whether it’s a job interview, a big presentation or the perfect networking opportunity – sometimes, we just freeze up. It happens, and it happens to everyone. The key is not to beat yourself up. And don’t shy away from future opportunities to give a big presentation or go on job interviews. The lesson is to learn from the situation and then do better next time.
Keep looking for opportunities to step into the spotlight and tell your story again and again. If you fumbled a presentation, then go ask the team leader if you can present it again with some new data that you just received. If you fumbled a job interview, then send an e-mail to the interviewer providing a little more clarity on your experience or area of expertise. For me, I wrote to the TV reporter and tee'd up a few more tips out of my book to share with her viewers, and then had a follow-up interview.
Sometimes a do-over isn’t possible, and if that’s the case, then just get on with looking for your next opportunity and be ready to strut your stuff. Don’t let a negative experience stop you from moving your career forward. Get out there, find your voice and share your career story with confidence. Your next career opportunity is out there – you just have to go find it!
Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist. She teaches others how to think differently and more proactively in their career. Her book, ”The Bounce Back” is the 2013 winner of “Best Career Book” by Indie Book Awards for independent book authors. Her first book is on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a powerful personal brand.” As the Founder/President of Career Coaching 360. Sherri specializes in providing one-on-one coaching to professionals and executives who want to change, reinvent or advance their career.
For a limited time, you can download the three FREE chapters of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com
Sherri offers personal one-on-one career coaching to professionals who want to change their career. Learn more: www.CareerCoaching360.com