You’ve got a story to tell, and that’s what people want to hear.
That’s all they want to hear, really.
In fact, people are so primed to hear your story that, if you don’t tell them one, they’ll fill in the blanks themselves and decide what your story is.
It’s better that you control the narrative yourself.
Craft a clear, concise, and compelling story and you’ll go a long way toward convincing and cajoling whoever is listening to your pitch to help you create the outcomes you most desire.
Let’s look at an extreme example: interviewing for a new job.
Landing a job or hiring an employee are dramatic moments for the candidate and manager alike. And, what does each want to know most?
They want to know each other’s story.
As a candidate you want to know what the story is with this place, the position, and the people. What’s the narrative and do I fit into it? That’s how you’ll decide if this is the right “fit” for you.
As a hiring manager, you want to know the candidate’s story. Where do they come from? Who do they aspire to become? How have they managed their professional journey so far and will they fit well with the team, the organization, and the plans we have in the works?
Each wants to know the other’s story and how they might fit together.
That’s the bottom line.
That’s the essential question underlying all the kerfuffle of the hiring process.
What’s your career story?
Sooner or later you will be contemplating your next career move. But even if you aren’t, crafting the narrative of your career can help you to better understand some of your specific personal aspirations.
Understanding your own story in this way can help you to re-approach your current work and gain greater satisfaction and success even if you’re not changing jobs.
Dust off your resume this week. Take a look at the major milestones and consider the arc of your career.
As you look at each job change, promotion, or significant project, the key question to ask is: as you worked on each challenge, how did you change as a result?
For instance, when a colleague and I started a technology consulting business many years ago, it was because we loved technology and we were good at working with it. We mastered all the hot technologies of the day and could leverage that knowledge to make money.
In order to do the work, though, I had to learn how to sell. The business owners who bought the work didn’t care about technology, they cared about business results. They paid money for value, not for technology.
I had to totally change the way that I communicated. I learned a lot, mostly through persevering through lots of trial and error.
The way that experience changed me prepared me for future steps in my career as a strategist and executive where communicating and thinking along those lines were of paramount importance.
Each of my career transitions has some sort of change like that. Each of your transitions does too. That’s a good place to start to build your career narrative.
What challenges have you faced? How did you change as a result? How did that prepare you to meet new challenges?
Figure out your story. Then you will be able to tell it well. And it will sell. (Even if you’re only selling to yourself.)