How to Tell Your Unique Career Story and Wow Hiring Managers
You can tell your unique career story in a way that shows off what you know and the value you can bring. It just takes some preparation. Here’s how to start.
Some careers follow a well-trodden path. Digital learning is not one of them. You had to blaze your own trail. Along the way you picked up some interesting insights and valuable skills. Because you made your own way, you bring something special to a team—a unique perspective.
There’s just one problem. Before you can get the job, you have to explain that path to a hiring manager who might not instantly see the value of those experiences. All is not lost. You can tell your unique career story in a way that shows off what you know and the value you can bring. It just takes some preparation.
What Is A Career Story?
Your career story is a clear statement about who you are, what you’ve done, and what you hope to accomplish. It should tell hiring managers and interviewers why you’re the right fit for the role. At the same time, it should describe your core skills and what motivates you. Everyone has a career story.
When your career path is unfamiliar to the hiring manager, you may need to include a little more description. At first glance, your experience might not seem to fit what they’re looking for. It’s up to you to help them make the connection between your experience and the job opening. Everywhere you tell your career story—resume, personal statement, cover letter, LinkedIn About section, job interview—go beyond just describing what you’ve done. Explain what you learned, the skills you’ve built, and how your mission and philosophy have evolved along the way.
How To Plot Your Career Story
If you’ve ever read a really good biography, you’ve seen how an author can shape the happenstance of someone’s life into a clear and compelling narrative. That’s exactly what you need to do with your career. The list of jobs you’ve had or places you’ve worked might not tell a story all on their own. It’s up to you to recognize themes and trends so the interviewer can understand them. Here are a few ways to start thinking about your plot.
1. Identify Your Motivation
When you look for work, it’s not just about the money. If it was, we’d all be anesthesiologists. The career choices you’ve made were driven by what you value and what interests you. Maybe you love to teach so you started out as a preschool teacher. Maybe you’re intensely curious and seek out work that gives you opportunities to learn, so you started as a research scientist. Pull out these motivations and use them to connect your various jobs.
2. Consider What You’ve Learned
Every role you’ve held so far has taught you something. Maybe it was an insight about yourself and what you like to do. Maybe it was a skill or technical ability. Consider what you learned in each position and think about how your next role built upon that knowledge.
For example, your first job might have been as the receptionist at your parent’s family business. There you learned customer service skills. Those interpersonal abilities might have helped you in your next role as a customer experience analyst.
3. Claim Your Character Traits
You might have held several roles in your career, but each one had something in common—you. Think about what excites you, what interests you, and how you’ve used those preferences in your work. Maybe you’re an avid reader and coworkers quickly learn to send their important emails to you for proofreading. Perhaps you’re good at coming up with creative ideas and people pop into your office to chat about potential projects.
Writers would call those sorts of things character traits. In any situation, those traits shine through because they’re a fundamental part of who the character is. Knowing your character traits can help you understand the value you bring to a role.
Connect The Dots To Tell Your Career Story
Now you can combine your motivation, character traits, and lessons learned into a clear and compelling career story. Your goal is to connect your past and present roles to show hiring managers what a future with you on their team might look like.
Here are a couple of outlines you can use to help plot your story:
Version A: Learning and discovery
“I started out in ________ where I learned _________ but I wanted the chance to _________. That led me to __________ where I discovered ____________. Now I’m looking forward to the opportunity to _____________.”
You can adjust this script to fit your own circumstances. You might need to make it longer or shorter depending on how complex your career history is. Feel free to add in or skip over whatever doesn’t work. It’s your story!
Ex. “I started out in marketing where I learned to write clearly and quickly. When an education company asked me to write blog posts for them. I fell in love with the industry. That led me to a role as a course content writer, where I discovered that I love helping people to learn. But the courses I was writing didn’t always have the most effective structure. Looking for a solution, I started studying learning theory on my own. That led me to pursue a Master’s in learning design and technology. Now I’m looking forward to the opportunity to more directly influence the course development process as a Learning Designer.”
Version B: Motivation based
“I feel like I’m making a difference in the world when I ______________________. That’s why I started my career as a _________________. In that role, I discovered ________________. That led me to _____________, where I learned _____________. Now I want to ____________. That’s why I want to join your team.”
“I feel like I’m making a difference in the world when I help connect people with the opportunities they need to thrive. Because I’m a skilled writer, I started out by writing blog posts for education companies. I loved helping learners explore their options, but I wanted to contribute more directly. That led me to pursue a Master’s in learning design and technology. Now I want to use my writing and technology skills to create truly effective courses that help learners meet their personal and professional goals. That’s why I want to join your team.”
Where To Tell Your Career Story
Tell your career story anywhere employers are likely to find you. That might include your LinkedIn profile, job boards, the summary section of your resume, or during interviews. You don’t have to recite it verbatim every time, but practice until you can easily answer questions like:
What attracted you to this role?
Why are you leaving the ____ industry?
What do you hope to accomplish in this role?
What motivates you?
Your career story is a powerful answer to any of these questions. Get comfortable with your plot points so you can easily work them into the conversation.
Find A Role That Fits Your Story
Remember that your career story never ends. It’s always To Be Continued. Find a role that fits your story with a little help from Teamed. We connect digital learning experts with organizations for employee positions, long-term contracts, and short-term gigs. Connect with Teamed today to start the next chapter of your story.