Around 2009 and 2010 my career was a mess. In late 2009 I applied for a job that would have revived my career and defined me in Product Marketing. I didn’t get the job because of my weak resume. After that I was at a loss of what to do with my spattered past, with stints in five industries in 10 years, a less-than-stellar entrepreneurial effort, and multiple job titles.
And now I love my career and life. What I did between then and now is the secret sauce I am attempting to bottle up and help others as a Career Advisor.
Back then, I was in a place of not letting myself understand my true skills. I had to put my big girl boots on and face some truths about myself, some of which were about things holding me back and some of which were talents I was keeping hidden. When I accepted myself as human, gave myself permission to make mistakes, and found ways to open up to my true skills, I found the right job for me.
Here’s my shortened story: at one point, I found a few exercises to tap into things that weren’t prevalent on my mind about myself, and made them prevalent. Through these exercises, I found a way to make my disparate career history into a cohesive story. I got hired on a small project which I leveraged in my LinkedIn profile. I interviewed some people in my network, and researched to see how my skills might apply to an actual job. I took all that and rewrote my profile to be about IT Communications. Then I sent out an email through LinkedIn and socialized the new direction. One person, who I had worked with several years before, told me his wife was in the field I was targeting and she had an opening. And that is how, in October 2014, I got a fabulous position with a title in IT Communications I’ve never had before, in an industry I’ve never worked before, in an IT department that’s about two to three times the size of any company I’ve worked for.
It's a Wonderful (Career) Life
One of these exercises I call “It’ a Wonderful Life,” named after the movie. The main character of the movie, George Bailey, gets to see his life as if he’d never been born. In my mind’s eye, I imagined what each project or job situation would have been like if I hadn’t been there. I asked, “How would it have gone differently? What did I bring to the project or situation?” I wrote those things down, and took an observer’s look at the kind of person that emerges.
This exercise might be helpful to you if you are struggling to make your career history make sense, or if you feel you don’t know what you bring to the table at work.
Dori "Story" Gilbert is Chief Storycologist; passionate about professionals, their journey, and their ability to direct a career story they love.