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5 Mistakes You're Making When Talking About Your Career

1. You have no real career story:

Problem: You have not taken the time to actually think about your career journey and all of the jobs that you have had, so when you talk to people, you are only talking about the immediate things that you are doing, and you may mention previous jobs as an afterthought, but there is no story, just independent points.

What you can do: If you have not taken the time to really think about your career story, I would suggest checking out episode 64 of the I Choose the Ladder podcast, where we talk about how you put together an impactful career story.

2. You try to cram in too much information:

Problem: I think we all have at least one experience when we asked someone about their work and are met with a 7-minute monologue. Where you tuned out at minute two, and just began to nod and smile. Because as Black women we are high achievers we are tempted to include all of our awards, all of our certifications, all of our internships, all of the people we know, etc. Like your resume, your career story is meant to be a highlight reel, not the entire movie.

What you can do: Fiercely edit the story so that only the best moments make the trailer so that people actually want to see the movie.

3. You don’t connect the dots:

Problem: The days of working for the same company for your entire career and then retiring are long gone. That means that if you have not already, you are going to work for a few companies, maybe in different industries and in different functions.

What you can do: It is your job to make the career moves that you made make sense to the person listening to the story.

4. You aren’t clear on the impact that you want the story to have:

Problem: For a lot of people when they tell the story of their career, it’s in an attempt to answer a question. Someone asks, “what do you do? at a networking event” or asks you to “Tell me about yourself?” in a job interview and all you are focused on is answering the question correctly. I would like to offer a slightly different perspective to consider.

What you can do:Instead of “how can I answer this question correctly to get _______________?” I would recommend that you ask yourself, “what do I want them to know and remember about me and my career from my answer?”

5. There is no personalization:

Problem: You matter-of-factly state things, almost like you’re saying items on a list, so there is no way for the person listening to you to get a sense of who you are. I know as Black women, there can be a struggle between wanting to keep our personal and professional lives separate because we can be judged so harshly in professional settings.

What you can do: Have a couple of appropriate stories prepped and ready to go. Stories that help connect you to the conversation and also allow the listener to connect to you, making people remember you and your career story.

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