Don’t Make Others Work Too Hard

<what is your story question Like when trying to figure out someone’s “career story.” There are times when I just start to zone out… I’ll be looking at a LinkedIn profile and before I know it, I’m deep into reading an article and I can’t even remember whose LinkedIn profile I was viewing. This also happens during networking events and when I’m interviewing others.

The process is only slightly less painful when I’m getting paid to help a client figure out their career story. It’s less painful because then, I have their permission to be candid and forthright with them – thus saving others from having to muddle through a disjointed career story that is confusing and frankly, kind of boring. So I’ve come to regard this painful experience as a type of public service, if you will. Clear, poignant career stories are good for all of us. We all benefit. Sort of like world peace.

A few weeks ago I made a social media comment (is that what it’s called when you post something online?) about not making a hiring manager work too hard when first getting to know you. Someone suggested I provide more information about this. So here goes.

Most of us don’t have a linear career story. We’ve developed skills and experience beyond the scope of our jobs. We gained subject matter expertise or specialized knowledge — made an interesting or unusual career move because of something that isn’t easily detected from our LinkedIn profile.

A good career story is a narrative, a high level description of how you got from “there to here.” It fills in any blanks and allows you to create the “thread” to your experience that one might not pick up on by just reading your resume.

See where I’m going with this? There’s only so much someone can understand about your career story by reading your resume. Don’t make them work too hard to get the whole picture. Help them out by pointing out the highlights. Focus on what’s unique about your career path. Provide that narrative that links career milestones, transitions from one industry to another or the specialty areas of knowledge you’ve gained.

My tip was “Don’t make the hiring manager work too hard to get to know you.” Think about it – most interviews start out with some variance of the “Tell me about yourself” question. Here’s your chance to tell your career story so your background is understood — beyond your resume. And it’s your opportunity to highlight what’s unique about you (relevant and of interest to your audience, of course.)

I believe that if you make it too hard for someone to figure out what you’re all about, they’ll just give up. Not because they don’t care, but because we just don’t have the time to do that type of heavy lifting. Also, if you don’t have it figured out, you can’t expect others to do that work for you. Don’t dumb down your story, but just remember that I don’t know your background like you know your background. Help me out by giving me a compelling and clear career story.