Career success is achieved through a series of strategies, actions, and tools that guide the journey toward the next level of advancement in our careers. As an experienced career development specialist, I help individuals advance in their careers. In a recent webinar, I shared insights on ways to apply storytelling to your career management.
As discussed in the webinar, planning a career in our volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world requires job seekers to be self-directed, intentional, and explicit about the management of their careers.
One of the most important outcomes of good career management is clarity. By this, I mean clarity about what is important to you. For example, consider the following questions:
- What do you want to do?
- How do you want to grow?
- What kinds of possibilities exist?
- What skills and credentials can you contribute?
Clarity brings focus, attention, and emotional fuel, such as hope, to the career decision process and prepares you to move forward with your career.
The journey you take to gain greater clarity in your career goals does not have to be a lengthy one, but it should be reflective and holistic. Work with a combination of formal and informal mentors, as well as coaches and access tools. These people and resources will help you identify patterns from the many stories that define your experience and accomplishments.
Clarity is not just about the possibilities you want to explore or what you want to do for a career. It is also about who you are and your intrinsic values, beliefs, and perceptions about the world of work and self.
Craft Your Personal Story
Once you achieve clarity, the next step is to understand how to best package and present your narrative. In the webinar, I discussed some of the key points about the power and purpose of storytelling in career management.
Stories are meant to illustrate your skills and strengths, desires, natural interests, assets, and personal qualities. You are not just a checklist of job titles and organizations or institutions. A story exists in each of your accomplishments. Stories allow you to highlight your skills, competencies, and contributions. In the process of describing your successes in this way, you will also gain a greater feeling of self-regard about your own accomplishments. This confidence builds psychological capital (hope, efficacy, resilience, and optimism). Stories are generative and expansive, and therefore allow you to explore a variety of career and life possibilities.
Storytelling can be a particularly powerful tool for newcomers to Canada because it gives you a tool to explain your career arc beyond the lines of work experience and education on your résumé. You can tell the story behind gaps in employment or roles you took that may seem outside of the scope of your expertise or educational field of study. A strong narrative will help you explain your journey to potential employers, while giving you the chance to explain why their organization would be the next logical step, and the value that you will bring to the job.
Engage in Self-Exploration
People often encourage job seekers to use their external resources, like their personal connections, to strengthen their careers. But an important element of career management is getting in touch with your internal resources, as well. This process, known as “intentional exploration,” will help you become more self-aware. Once you have considered all of your external and internal resources, you will be ready to pursue all possibilities.
In summary, it is useful to think of your path to career success as a storyline. Defining your narrative is more than a matter of taking inventory of your previous jobs. Consider the full expression of who you are and what you want in your life, and then you can begin to envision the complete story of your career advancement.