Younger Workers Need a Career Narrative | Heidi K. Gardner and Adam Zalisk

Posted: February 19, 2013 in Career narrative
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☞ The notion that one needs a career narrative, especially when applying for, or changing, jobs, is increasingly recognised. A narrative is usually more attractive and effective than a set of facts. As Gardner and Zalisk note in their article, one should start thinking of a career narrative early, and it is not something to be left later in life. Of course, not all career narratives may work. Gardner and Zalisk have some advice on how to write one. 

“In recent years, much has been written about the importance of career narratives for mid-career and senior professionals, particularly those making a career transition. But, we’d argue, they’re even more important for younger professionals who don’t yet have a multipage CV or a high-powered headhunter in their corner. What, then, makes for an effective narrative?

First, it should be easy to remember and retell. The whole point is to give your colleagues a narrative that quickly comes to mind whenever they’re asked about you, preventing them from making assumptions and drawing conclusions on their own. Two or four sentences, maximum.

Second, it should meaningfully link your past successes to your near and long-term development needs and suggest the kinds of assignments that would help to achieve those objectives. Those goals might certainly be developmental (to test a particular skill; gain experience with a certain tool or methodology; explore a specific industry). But they can also be more personal (limit travel to spend time with family, for instance).Think of it as a “sound-bite resume” — on hearing it, senior professionals should have two reactions. First, they should be interested in working with you. Second, they should know if it makes sense for you to work with them.

Third, your narrative needs to hang together with the right combination of honesty, humility, and personal flavor. Doing so creates an authentic and compelling career narrative. Narratives that just articulate a string of successes are not credible and are not likely to be repeated. Similarly, boilerplate chronicles without any personal flair rarely get traction.”

Read more… 

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