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What’s Your Story?

September 24, 2015

We know it’s hugely important to be able to market ourselves in today’s world. We are our own best advertisements for ourselves. People constantly ask “what do you do?” or “what do you want to do?” and we need to be able to answer them clearly and effectively. How can we do that well?

It starts with a little self-reflection

It can sound like cheesy advice, but knowing yourself well is a crucial place to start. Bryan, a hiring expert from IBM Corporation, says, “The hardest part of anything is starting (an essay in college, a research project, exercising, etc.) but after that, all you have to do is build upon your momentum. ” If you have no idea what you want to do or what you’re interested in, it’s going to be extremely difficult for you to explain it to somebody else.

Take some time to look at your life, your experiences, your education, your interests, and even the things you do for fun in your spare time. What stands out about those things to you? Do you see commonalities? Are all of your favorite things related to sports? Do you find yourself happiest when you are being creative or making things? Make note of those trends and start thinking about how a career could connect with them. “By demonstrating passion and commitment in other areas of your life (sports, volunteerism, etc.), you can show recruiters your skills, knowledge and abilities,” says Bryan.

Then, have some conversations

Talk to the people who know you well—family members, friends, mentors, professors, tutors, supervisors, etc. Ask them what they think your greatest strengths and skills are. Also ask them what areas they feel you could improve in, even though that isn’t as fun to hear. Getting an outside perspective will be helpful as you work to define what it really is that you want to do with your work.

Next, do some processing and defining

Sara, a hiring expert from American Express, says, “The best piece of career advice I received was to know and be able to tell my story. It's not an easy thing to talk about yourself, goals, and your accomplishments in a natural way so it's good to practice so you don't stumble since it's usually the very first thing an interviewer will ask you about.” Once you’ve spent time figuring out your interests, work to craft your goals, skills, passions, and ambitions into a clear and concise elevator speech. You should be able to share about who you are and what you want to do in a few minutes. If you can do that, you will be able to market yourself and share your story well with anyone you might meet.

Lastly, boil it all down to the basics

Once you have figured out what you really want to do with your career and you have a clear definition, all that’s left is to share it with the world. Dana, a hiring expert from ManpowerGroup, says: “Load as many key words, quantitative information, and power verbs as you possibly can into your resume and your online profiles. Be honest about your abilities, but try to highlight your transferable skills and any experiential learning which might be compelling to a reader.”

No matter what stage of your career you’re in, take some time to reflect on what it is that you truly want to do. The process of figuring out and defining your interests will help you tell a better story as you market yourself and your skills as you grow in your career.

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