Reading examples of career stories or narratives and then writing your own can help you redefine your career goals. Storytelling approaches to career management and development focus on constructing a description of your ideal future. When you can dream it, you may find you can do it, too. Your career narrative may describe any aspect of your working life, such as your childhood aspirations, why you chose your current career, who has influenced you or what you want to do next with your life. Composing a career narrative can help you overcome your fear of making a change to reinvent yourself by making success more tangible. Telling your own story helps you to distinguish your goals during interviews and establish your own personal brand.
A typical example of a career narrative begins with an introduction. This includes basic facts about where you went to school, what you studied and why you’ve chosen the field you’re in currently. You can also include details such as family members, teachers or friends who have influenced your decisions.
Like a resume, a career narrative should describe your work experience. However, instead of just names, dates and locations, you can include amusing anecdotes about your best and worst day on the job or other interesting tidbits. A narrative might also include information about what attracted you to this career, your preferences for hours, job responsibilities and skill set. You can included details about why you chose to accept or leave jobs. This is an opportunity to articulate what work environments suit your personality, lifestyle and personal commitments.
Most career narratives include details about what a person has done to further her own career development, with commentary about why or why not she has been successful. A college student may focus on course work, internships or research conducted, whereas an experienced employee may focus on on-the-job experience, or mentoring and coaching relationships. Many successful small-business owners cite the influence of teacher, mentor or business partner.
Usually, a career narrative concludes with a statement or two about what a person has learned from past roles. This can also include comments made in performance reviews, accolades from customers or recommendations from peers. Creating a career narrative can help you see how you’ve grown and developed because of your experiences, despite challenges and adversity. A candid examination of your past, present and future plans can make for an interesting story, one that you are proud of for years to come. Whether someone is just starting out, making a career change, returning to the workforce after raising a family or going back to school, telling his story can help him focus on laying the foundation.
Tara Duggan is a Project Management Professional (PMP) specializing in knowledge management and instructional design. For over 25 years she has developed quality training materials for a variety of products and services supporting such companies as Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq and HP. Her freelance work is published on various websites.