Like relationships, career paths run their course.

 

Sometimes we get into something because because we though it would be interesting, but turns out it wasn’t your passion. A job that once was exciting and challenging is now a source of frustration and stagnation. Instead of being inspired everyday, you feel like a drone wasting your time convinced that the Matrix is real and you’re in it.

 

The way in which we work is rapidly changing. The new normal is not one job for the rest of your life, like your parents, but many, and often varied. A sentiment echoed in a recent Forbes article:

“The average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years, according to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is about half that.” – Forbes

I’ve followed my own Wanderlust, and found myself living abroad at various stages in my life. I’ve been a swimming instructor, harbour master, waitress, HR advisor and Insurance adjuster, to name a few. The more varied your interests, the more things you’ve likely tried to find the shoe that fits.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” – Steve Jobs

Each “dot” brings with it a clue about who you are and what you like. Along the way you start to develop a unique set of skills and life perspective. Creating a cohesive narrative from all the “dots” on paper can be hard. When trying to bridge the gap on your resume between what you have done, to what you want to do can be seem impossible especially when the job you want is in an entirely different industry.

Here are 5 steps to reframe your career transition experience in a compelling way that will help you land your dream job.

 

5. Set your Goal: Know why you are telling a story. Stories are an engaging and effective way to demonstrate your knowledge, intent and passion. But if you get to the end and you’ve lost track of why you’re telling a particular story, you lose the relevance and your audience. in a professional setting that can really work against you. Be sure you know how and why the story connects to the situation.
4. Work Backwards: For centuries stories have been used to shape social behaviour and norms. Pick up any children’s book and you’ll see by the end of it there is a moral message on the right way to behave. When you are relating a personal experience in a story structure, identify the moral of your story. What did you learn? How did this experience shape your life? What about this experience is relevant to the direction you’re going in now?
3. Story Structure: A story needs to follow a particular structure in order to have the desired affect on a biological level known as the dramatic arc. I’ve broken it down this structure into three sections.

 

My Life Before: Only the necessary details required to understand the rest of the story. This part of the story is connected to your goal by providing context to why you are telling this particular story. The clearer you can be, the easier it will be to follow and build your story.

The Moment Everything Changed: This is the hardest and most necessary detail because it captures peoples’ attention. Our brains will naturally release a stress hormone that makes us focus when we introduce a “problem”. This moment in your life can be caused by an external force or internal conflict that throws us off balance and into the unknown. In sharing personal stories, this part takes the most courage because it require us to show our vulnerability. That’s why it’s important to understand the relevance of your story as it relates to your goal.

My Life After: These are the steps you took to overcome the initial problem or situation that was the catalyst to change. The story is revealed in the telling of events that occurred to overcome the initial obstacle in order to achieve a new sense of normal. Once a balance is restored, we can then look back and see our growth through experience and lessons learned.

2. Strong Ending: Landing on a strong message is the moment of recovery. A life lesson or personal realization is a moment that connects us with our audience through shared experience and empathy. Be sure to state clearly how you grew or what you learned by going through this experience. In stating what you learned you connect your story to your goal. (Steps 4 & 5)

1. Practice Makes Perfect: Be sure to practice the personal stories that you’re going to share. Different variations of same stories can be told to demonstrate different skills or knowledge depending on your goal or situation. The more you know your stories, the easier and more naturally you’ll be able to adapt and authentically share it, with your audience.

Often times it’s the hidden themes and narratives of our own lives, the ones that speak to us in impulses, interests and passions, that are secretly directing our future. It’s in looking back, and connecting the dots to see how they come together craft a narrative of where you’re going.

When you can tell the story of where you’ve been, it becomes easier to convince others, and yourself, of where you’re going.