The Magic of Career Storytelling
The intersection of your career and finances becomes more apparent the further you enter the world of adulting. You may notice on your financial independence journey, there are two philosophies around building wealth you’ll often hear others preach about.
1.) cutting your expenses and 2.) growing your income. Here’s the secret: in order to truly build wealth and maintain it, you must do both.
By doing both, not only are you limiting the amount of money leaving your pockets, you’re exponentially growing the number of dollars coming in.
Between these 2 philosophies, although you should always work on both, most tend to focus on one more than the other. If this is you, I encourage you to hedge towards growing your income.
Yes, we can cut down on all the avocado toast and TV streaming bills we want, however focusing on growing earning potential allows a wider aperture for us to see the bigger picture when it comes to building wealth.
There’s a life hack for growing your income that I like to call Career Storytelling. When done the right way, it can be one of the most effective tools for making more money.
Whether working a 9-5 or living the entrepreneurial life – everyone can benefit from learning how to thoughtfully articulate their career experience and highlight key accomplishments to demonstrate they’re worth every penny someone’s paying them.
If wealth is the destination, [career] storytelling is your vehicle to get there.
Career storytelling is exactly what it sounds like. You can think of it as the narration to your career – it can come in the form of a resume, a performance review at work, your online portfolio, or your response to “tell me a little about yourself” in an interview.
Others should be able to read it and resonate with it or hear it and follow along like the lyrics to a popular song. The goal is simple: show impact and create clarity.
This is so important because it will open doors for jobs with higher compensation, promotions at work, new clients for your business, and more sales.
People want to buy from credible sources. Your dream job is looking for someone dependable, who can deliver. Your career storytelling will help paint the picture you want the world to see, it’s the voice of your brand.
The perfect story requires perfect chapters.
If you’re reading this and unsure where to begin with crafting your story, you’re probably wondering – what to include and how to include it?
I want you to think of a few things when it comes to this, so here are some questions to invoke insight:
· What do you feel most proud of from your work?
· What have you been given kudos for?
· Where do you usually get the most positive feedback?
· What do people typically come to you for help with?
You’ll notice a theme from these questions that should help you identify your superpower. As you’re carefully thinking through the answers to these questions, you’ll realize that you’re good at a lot more than you initially thought.
This exercise will help you start, but the key to mastering your storytelling ability is by making the process of tracking your ongoing accomplishments as seamless as possible.
Keep up with yourself.
You’re connecting the dots – crafting the story, and you now have a sense of what to include. Still, you’re not quite sure how to keep up with everything when it comes to telling your tale. If you have a ton of unique experiences you want to share, it can be overwhelming.
Going forward (or even catching up), here’s what to do:
Don’t worry about perfect. Get it all out in what some like to call word vomit. Think of every win, every accomplishment, every recollection of “NICE WORK!” or “congrats!”.
Write down precisely what it was you did and how you did it. Again, this does not need to be perfect – just get it down on paper. I like to call this a brag sheet; nothing too little or too big can be found here.
Time to condense. Now, you should have a running list of several things highlighting all you’ve done. Next, you’ll want to review each of these carefully and decide if it’s worth staying on the list or if you can scratch it.
When you work for a corporation, I’d recommend having the organizational goals and mission in front of you. Then, one by one, as you go through your “brag sheet,” ask yourself, “how does this align with the overall organization?”.
This will connect your work with the things your manager and leadership teams prioritize.
If you’re an entrepreneur, the concept remains the same. What are you selling, and who is your audience?
As you review your accomplishments, they should be building your story around why people should trust your work. This is the credibility that establishes trust with your community.
Let’s get organized! Lastly, take all your wins and decide how to build a framework that makes it easy to follow along.
Depending on the medium or platform for sharing the information, you may require different approaches. Here are a couple of examples:
- Performance review at your job: every organization is different, however as you’re compartmentalizing different experiences, here are two categories that you should think about:
- Individual impact – what you solely contributed and new skills you learned
- Collaboration with others – work that you built upon or worked with someone else
- Resume/Linkedin: here, you’ll list your top 4/5 key accomplishments worth highlighting. Prioritize these by what delivered the most impact.
Career storytelling is only compelling if the person listening (or reading) can follow along. Make this part as easy as possible by organizing it to create clarity and make people WANT to follow along.
You’re not the only voice for your career
Who you are and the work you do will begin to create a name and story for itself without you even saying a word.
You’re responsible for controlling that narrative; however, there will be mentors, sponsors, past clients, previous managers, and so on who will discuss your accomplishments in rooms you aren’t in.
Your goal should be to make this narrative a positive one, and with that, job opportunities will find their way to you effortlessly. And when they do, your story will be ready to tell. It’ll also be prepared to add new chapters easily.
I had a very successful the decade career and every year after my annual review I’d make a journal entry about what I had accomplished, how my boss saw me and what I needed to focus on in the coming year. After I retired slightly early I dug those out and reread them. It was fascinating, it confirmed his much I loved my job and how much I was affirmed and rewarded by my bosses. Tonight I’m sharing those notes with a group of university junior engineering students as part of the volunteer mentoring I’m doing. It’s very cool my story still is useful in this phase of my life.
Very, very cool, Steve!