Landing a new job or making a career change is harder if your career has zigged and zagged and taken some unexpected turns. Having a nonlinear path isn’t a showstopper, but it does mean that you have to take control of your narrative to convince employers that you have the expertise to do the job, and you won’t jump ship the next time the wind blows in a different direction.
How To Take Control Of Your Narrative
If you have two degrees in classical archaeology and want to work in market research will a hiring manager take you seriously? Would a marketing agency be interested in you if you’ve been a fundraiser for a university? Hiring managers may not beat a path to your door, but they’ll be willing to listen if you can convincingly explain how to connect the dots of your career story.
Before you can communicate your story to someone else, you need to understand your career path yourself. Self-assessment requires taking a step back to look at your career choices and the theme that ties them together. Sometimes asking people who know you well to reflect on the strengths and interests they’ve seen in your career decisions will help you uncover these themes.
To discover what connects your experiences, ask yourself:
- In what types of tasks do I excel?
- What activities in and out of work do I enjoy the most?
- Which of my accomplishments make me the proudest? Why?
- During what activities am I the most energized?
The common thread for the archaeologist turned market researcher was her fascination with human thinking and behavior. Her interest in archeology was not in digging for ancient bits of pottery but studying the images of people and imagining the decisions they made on a day-to-day basis. What about the fundraiser turned agency, wannabee? For her, the common theme was her love of building relationships.
Translate Your Experience To Benefits
Every industry has a unique language; the terminology they use to describe job titles, responsibilities, and desired skills. Once you’ve identified your theme, the next step is to craft your branding using the language of your target industry or company to explain the problems you solve. Here are some examples:
“I’m a technology leader who thrives on identifying and driving growth opportunities and building high functioning teams.”
“Solving operational problems is my passion. I bring order to chaos by developing processes and procedures that save time and money for start-up biotech companies.”
If you connect the dots so that others don’t have to, you will assure others that you’re the right person for the job.