A professional story is the story you use to talk about your education, motivation, skills, experiences, goal, and vision of the future. With a professional story, you can change the way you talk about work.
Break free from the resume trap and start telling a story about what you do that includes you and not your accomplishments in the starring role.
A professional story gives you the freedom and the confidence to introduce yourself with ease.
So, who needs a professional story?
Transitioning from one career to another
If you’re ready to try something new, whether you’ve chosen that for yourself or been compelled by circumstances, you need a professional story.
One of the tough things about changing careers is that your work history doesn’t always match what your new field expects. That can feel like a disadvantage or a block in your path. A professional story offers a method for finding and crafting the stories from your personal life that demonstrate that you have the skills you will need in your new career.
Look, skills are transferable. The thing to remember is that you can transfer them from your personal life to your professional life just as easily as you can transfer them from one job to another.
A professional story helps you look at your life story with new eyes so you can find and talk about the many skills you already have.
Re-entering the job market
Maybe you took time off to parent, maybe you cared for a sick loved one, travelled, moved overseas, or decided to explore a passion project. Whatever you did, when you decide to re-enter the job market, it’s almost guaranteed to look like a scary place.
We tend to associate not working with not learning or even not being productive. Let’s set that straight.
You stayed home to parent? You put life on earth and invested in a future amazing human being.
You cared for a loved one? You made a hard choice and did hard work that probably forced you to grow in ways you didn’t feel like doing.
You travelled? You exposed yourself to new experiences and challenges, learned a load about yourself, and maybe even see the world differently now.
You moved overseas? You took on a massive logistic challenge, adapted to a new culture and language, plus set up a social network from zero.
You explored a passion project? You brave soul, you dove into something that meant something to you, found your limits, and challenged expectations.
Right, now look back over that and can you just feel the stories under the surface? Can you smell the skills that you developed during this supposed break?
Do not be intimidated by feeling out of touch with the job market. You’re entering it as a different person now and there is no need to fit into an old mold, or really any mold. You be you, only be all of you.
You’re a generalist, not a specialist
In his book Range, David Epstein claims, “Our greatest strength is the exact opposite of narrow specialization. It is the ability to integrate broadly.” He’s right.
On paper, we generalists can look like a mess, aimless, unfocused, unable to commit or make choices, which is one of the reasons we need our professional stories!
When you find, craft, and tell your professional story, you shape the narrative. You can tell a story of starting and failing to finish one project after another or you can tell the story of the thing you were seeking and the choices you made to get closer to your goal.
If you’re frustrated about having to fit into someone else’s mold, or a mold you imagine, then it’s time to make your own mold. A professional story can help you do just that.
You’re constantly on the move
Are you the trailing spouse? That’s the partner who follows someone else’s job opportunities from one city to another, maybe one country to another. Some couples do this and both find jobs in their own fields. They both build careers that are relatively linear.
Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. This seems to be more common for couples who move abroad, whether it’s because they’re from different countries or expats.
If this is you, maybe you worked in a field that doesn’t exist in your new home. Maybe you don’t speak the local language. Perhaps you’re a combination of a mover and someone who chose to take some time off from working a paycheck job.
One of the biggest frustrations I hear from folks who go through this is that they are insecure. They start to doubt their own abilities and their potential. They are trying so hard to meet the expectations of their new location that they lose sight of what they can already do.
Taking time for your professional story helps you reassert or maybe find a new understanding of your identity.
You just graduated
Completing your education, whether it’s a your first degree, a PhD, or anything in between is triumph tinged with “oh my goddess, what do I do next?”
Many fresh graduates don’t know what they want to do. Or if they do know what they want to do, they don’t have a lot of experience in their chosen fields. Their work history is brief and that can leave you feeling inadequate.
Hey, you just finished a course of study. That required commitment, time, and energy. You learned a lot about your chosen field and how to manage getting your education done. Neither of those are minor accomplishments.
Your professional story will give you a story to tell that includes both your academic achievements and all the things you learned about being a productive, achieving kind of person. It will give you a way to focus on telling details instead of worrying about gaps in your still young work history.
Do you need a professional story?
Did you see yourself in this article? Professional stories aren’t right for anyone, but a lot of people can use them to find the language they need to talk about themselves and do it with ease.
I’m offering a free 60-minute Masterclass now called The 4 Fundamental Truths About Professional Stories. If you need a professional story, register now to learn how you can escape the resume trap and start confidently telling your story to introduce yourself, network, or find a new job.