As a career coach, I enjoy working with fiction writers. They have a story they want to tell, and come to me to help keep them on track – and offer them support and encouragement, of course. But this got me thinking about how people treat their own non-fiction career stories!
Do you take charge of writing your own career story or do you let other people write it for you? You might be surprised at the answer.
How you may be letting other people write your story for you
- You only think about jobs other people create.
- You only apply to jobs for which you have 100% of the required qualifications.
- You worry about what others think when considering new careers.
- You wait for your boss to come up with new projects for you.
- You wait for your boss to tell you that you’re doing a good job (and feel beaten down when they don’t).
- You let a rejection for a job or idea or school you’ve applied to stop you from believing in yourself.
- You let criticism from others or failure in other people’s eyes keep you from your goals.
How to write your own career story
Most of us do at least some of the things I listed above. Very few people get to their dream job first shot out or even know what they want for sure when they start. Sure it happens … but most of us take a few less-than-dream steps first. Often, a good way to learn what we don’t want to do!
But since you can’t try every job out there (although I sure gave first-hand exploration a good try), we need to start thinking about the role we can play in getting more out of any job and from our careers. If you just wait for the answer from a fortune cookie (ok … I did that once also), you may be waiting forever – and feeling the world done you wrong.
So what can you do to take charge of where your career is headed?
- First, spend some time figuring out what you really want – and who you really are.
- If you’re in a job, look for ways to take on projects that fit with your career goals either directly or ones that might get you closer by building transferable skills.
- If you’re in a job, look for new state-of-the-art skills to acquire either at work or through outside classes.
- If you’re in a job, don’t take your eye off the work you were hired to do, but also along the way make sure your boss knows which areas you’d like to get into if possible.
- If you’re in a job, come up with suggestions that advance your stated job goals but also give you a chance to explore things you’re interested in.
- If you’re in a job, don’t forget to do your own PR by letting accomplishments be known – without boasting, of course.
- Look for jobs to propose / create, either at your current workplace or from the outside looking in when you spot an organizational need.
- If you are not working or want to change careers completely, this post includes some tips to start you off.
- And don’t be afraid to apply for jobs you don’t have all the requirements for if you can make the case using those transferable skills.
- Wherever you are, start networking and building long-term relationships with people in your dream field.
- Look for a mentor whether in the company you’re in or through online and in-person networking.
- Wherever you are, don’t wait for things to come to you … make them happen for yourself by setting goals and going after them.
- If you can’t find it in a job or in a new career, think about starting it for yourself in your own business … even if it takes a while to get there.
Any of this can take time, and can require patience to spot and seize the right opportunity. But step by step you will be writing your own career story and not passively allowing others – directly or indirectly – to chart your course.
One other thing similar to fiction writers
Any good fiction writer will tell you the real art of writing happens AFTER the first draft in the editing and re-editing – as much as you might like to just say “it’s finished”. The same is true when it comes to writing and living your career story.
Even after all the hard work of figuring out what you want and then finally finding that first exciting job in your new field, you still will need to shape it and reshape it as the years go on. But now, as the author of your own career story, you are the one who gives it the shape and color of what you really want to create for yourself!
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