What's your story?
How to tell your career story when you hate talking about yourself
If someone saying, “Tell me about yourself,” gives you the heebee-jeebees, you’re in good company.
My clients share that trait with you.
(Yes, really—when we first started working together, they’d much rather talk about their companies or their teams than themselves.)
They’re also amazingly accomplished, talented founders and senior executives consistently recognized for their expertise who have come to understand the value of clearly articulating their personal and professional narratives.
In other words, each of them knows how to tell their career story.
Everyone has one, but not everyone leverages its power.
Properly crafted, your career story helps to differentiate you from your competitors, highlight your value, and draw others to you.
This is particularly important if you’re an aspiring or senior leader or have had a career transition such as a promotion, founding a company, or striking out on your own.
Because once you have your story, it changes everything, including how others perceive, pay, partner with, and promote you.
The truth is, you probably know this already.
So why do we resist seizing the opportunity to tell (or maybe retell) our professional narratives?
Because we don’t want to be “that guy.”
You know, the boastful self-promoter who loves the sound of his own voice and never misses a chance to tell you what an expert/guru/ninja/influencer he is.
(Cue the eye roll.)
As cringe-worthy as someone like that can be, he has one thing going for him: he’s proactively telling his career story.
And while you wouldn’t want to be like that self-obsessed braggart, you can take charge of your professional narrative to build your personal brand and position yourself for success.
Here’s how to tell your career story when you hate talking about yourself:
Before you object, consider that this is the first thing someone will do when trying to find out more about you—are you confident you know what will appear? When crafting your career story, it makes sense to gather intel on yourself to see what’s out there—and determine if it’s current and helpful or out-of-date and potentially embarrassing.
Make it easy for others
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone knew exactly why you’re the go-to person in your industry? Better yet, what if you were top-of-mind with potential employers, partners, or clients?
A great career story does that, but it requires clarity. When you’re clear, your intended audience quickly understands who you are, what you offer, your value, what differentiates you, and how you can help them.
Even if you’ve had seemingly unrelated jobs in vastly different industries, you can always find a common thread (or two) that weaves together your personal and professional experiences. Think beyond titles and roles to help others easily connect the dots.
Remove irrelevant experience
Remember to sell your destiny, not your history. You’re not doing yourself any favors by hoarding past career experiences that have nothing to do with how you want others to perceive you. If something isn’t relevant, it’s muddying your message and will confuse—or lose—your intended audience. Instead, be ruthless about paring down your profiles to support what you want to do, not what you’ve done.
Share your wisdom
Your career story isn’t limited to your LinkedIn profile or website’s About section; it also includes how you interact and engage online. Aim to provide value and serve, not sell.
Amplify your thought leadership by consistently sharing your wisdom, perspective, and insights in your zone of genius through your social media content. You can also do this by leaving thoughtful comments on other people’s content—especially of those people in your industry whom you admire.
When you freely share your wisdom, you proactively help others know, like, and trust you and understand the value you bring.
Let others sing your praises
Think back to the earlier example of the self-promoting guy: Would you rather hear from him—or one of his happy clients—about how awesome he is? Who would you trust more for objectivity?
The beauty of third-party endorsements is that they serve as social proof and word-of-mouth recommendations from those who’ve worked with you rather than you tooting your own horn.
Reach out to your bosses, colleagues, customers, and clients to ask them to write a brief recommendation on LinkedIn or a review of your product or service that you can include on your website. Having others sing your praises adds another layer of credibility and legitimacy to your overall career story.
Remember, once you have your career story,* it changes everything, including how others perceive, pay, partner with, and promote you, so be sure it positions you for success.
Another reason you might bristle at the thought of telling your career story?
Because you feel like a fraud.
If so, you’re not alone.
A recent study found a whopping 82% of people struggle with imposter syndrome.
In my latest Forbes article, I share five ways to deal with this all-too-common career challenge.
P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or crafting my clients’ career stories, I’m a social media ghostwriter. (Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders craft their stories to communicate and connect better, magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.
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*If you’re still struggling to create a compelling career story, I can help. Learn more here.
Really helpful and concisely presented from start to finish. Thank you for the insights and reminders. Well illuminated indeed!
Dear Amy, thanks for sharing your thoughts & insights about this topic.
Your are always marvellous!!
I am always waiting for your newsletters & articles.
There is lot to learn about various aspects of life & career from your perspectives.
Best wishes always!
M.S.,M.Ch.,D.N.B.,MNAMS (Plastic Surgery)