How to Tell a Compelling Career Story
When candidates look for new ways to ace their interviews, they don’t often think of stories as a tool they can use to their benefit. This is a mistake, as a well-crafted story can actually be one of the most powerful tools in your interviewing arsenal.
What Is a Career Story?
Much as it sounds, a career story is an engaging way to explain your previous work history. A good career story weaves together all the jobs you’ve had alongside your biggest accomplishments and wraps it all up in a compelling narrative. Essentially, it’s the best possible answer you can give when interviewers ask you to explain your past experience:
- It shows you’ve prepared for the interview;
- It describes your experience in a way that’s far more memorable than a list of jobs—exactly what you need to make an impact in formal interviews;
- It indicates that your professional history was guided by a plan or driven by a goal (even if it wasn’t!) This type of forethought and long-term planning is a highly desirable trait in candidates.
And best of all, you don’t need to be a writer or even a good storyteller to come up with a memorable career story. All you need to know is what to say and how to say it.
The Components of a Good Career Story
Here’s a primer for building a great career story of your own.
1. Start with a list of previous jobs
Begin by making a list of every job you want to include. These experiences will the backbone of your story. Jot down a few details about each position:
- What did you do there?
- How long did you stay?
- What was your biggest accomplishment?
Create a timeline of your work history (much like you’d see on a résumé) and go from there.
2. Add personal details
Next, look at each job and take an honest assessment of your emotions at each job:
- Did you enjoy working there?
- Where did you struggle?
- What motivated you to leave?
Flesh out each job with these personal details.
3. List your aspirations
Don’t just describe where you’ve been; describe where you want to go—in other words, your career aspirations.
Think about your long-term goals in the context of this new position. Is this new career the end goal for you? Or is it merely a stepping stone down the path? The key here is to tie your long-term aspirations back to each job you’ve had.
If you can explain to an interviewer how each job experience has supported your long-term goals, you can position yourself as a driven individual who acts with confidence.
4. Weave in your motivations
But don’t stop there. It’s important to explain how each job has supported your long-term goals, but it’s equally important to explain what drove you to leave and explore new opportunities.
Look back at your emotional states in each previous job. Were you unfulfilled by jobs that didn’t push you toward your goals? Did specific opportunities (say, a job opening in an exciting new city) spur you to branch out and explore other avenues of your life? You’ll likely find some patterns in your motivations, which are essential elements to include as you tell your story.
You Define Your Story
We can’t tell you how to write your own story, but hopefully we’ve given you some ideas of where to begin. Take the above details and put together a couple paragraphs that detail your experience, what you’ve learned, and why your work history has primed you perfectly for the position you’re applying to.
Above all, get excited when you’re describing your career story! It’s your life, after all, and candidates who show enthusiasm and passion for what they’ve done stand head and shoulders above their peers. And if you need help putting together a career story of your own, contact Urgenci and we’d be happy to give you a hand.