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  • Lori A. Jazvac

Career Storytelling: Conveying A Compelling Narrative

My résumé strategy is simple — it focuses on showcasing your added value along with clear results.

As a Master Résumé Writer, I serve as a career storyteller who synthesizes the story of your life and career journey into a compelling, interview-winning document. I build your brand marketing collateral from scratch and write to the position that you are pursuing.

Before we get to the heart of your career story, together we firstly define your goals and your ideal role. Identifying two or three roles and highlighting the keywords or phrases that meet your criteria are essential to pinpointing exactly what you want. This can be done through brainstorming, discussions, and exploring ideal roles via Indeed, LinkedIn, or company websites.

Conduct Your Due Diligence

Ensure that the industry that you’re aiming at is in an economically stable or growing position — at least long-term. Many jobseekers apply to "any industry" without considering a clear industry focus along with its prospects. They bypass this stage, consequently, setting themselves up for disappointment. It is important to conduct solid labour market research and understand the employer and industry requirements. Setting a few Google alerts with researching online will offer a thoughtful glimpse of the developments and trends happening in your industry.

Do You Know Your Key Driving Motivators?

Consider your key driving motivators to get a crisp career focus. When it comes to your career, what are your “musts”? Think about the size and type of company. The experience of working for a smaller company differs considerably from working for a large company or a non-profit organization.

For instance, if you must remain in the Toronto, Ontario region and want to transition from VP of Operations to CEO and earn at least $150K+, then consider leveraging your previous industry experience as a value offering and staying in your industry of choice if it helps to strengthen your position.

Alternatively, perhaps you want to apply to a different kind of role that allows you to utilize your expertise while working remotely. This will also change the shape and tone of your résumé and your career action plan. It is possible to meet all your goals, but sometimes you may have to compromise a bit or negotiate to meet one of your key driving motivators.

Consider these key questions for reflection:

* What are the must-haves that you need to have in your career?

* How about the nice-to-have criteria and the absolute no-no's?

* What, if any criteria, are you willing to forego if necessary?

* What is the opportunity cost or trade-off involved?

Building Your Brand

Your unique value and milestones are part of your overall brand. Yet, it is ironic how these key pieces of career-related information are not often tracked. For this reason, I help clients extract powerful accomplishment stories by delving deeper into the results to uncover value and how it adds meaning to their career narrative.

Remember, your résumé or career narrative needs to convey meaning by demonstrating the leading question by the employer — what sets you apart?

Consider these helpful questions to understand your brand:

  • What are you an expert in? What do you do best?

  • What core strengths or key skills/competencies do you use?

  • What have managers and team members said about your performance at work? What are you most recognized for?

  • When you are at your best, how do you impact others?

  • What do you stand for or believe in (your values)?

  • How would you describe your brand identity?

  • What are your most proudest achievements? What is your key success strategy?

Understanding Career Transitions

Remember that the closer you are now to what you want, the more efficient it will be to achieve your goal. Here are 4 types of career transitions:

  1. Same or similar role – same or similar industry

  2. Same role – different industry

  3. Different role – same industry

  4. Different role – different industry

It is relatively easy to transition to a similar role and industry. It gets somewhat tougher when transitioning to another industry — even though you’re staying in the same role, especially if you require industry-specific experience and a whole other skill set that you must hone through in-depth training.

How About when Transitioning to a Different Role and Industry?

Making parallel connections with your expertise and marketable skills while tapping into the hidden job market becomes more crucial when transitioning to a different role and different industry. A SWOT analysis along with research and employment planning are required with more education/skills training.

The transition can become more complex when changing both the role and industry, as well as geographic location out of province or state, or even country. Transitions can include corporate to entrepreneurial, private to public sector, military to civilian, profit to non-profit, and vice verse.

However, I have helped position numerous jobseekers undergoing various career transitions. Jobseekers that have a clear focus and do their due diligence while leveraging solid brand marketing collateral and their trusted networks transition more effectively.

Take the Achievements Challenge: Delve Further for Solid Results

After clarifying your focus / direction, including career target, industry, company size, and company philosophy/style, we align your past successes with keywords and phrases in the job roles. This is important to connect the dots for the employer.

Avoid only thinking about your responsibilities. Rather, think of how those responsibilities translated into results for the company, its team, and key stakeholders. Include scope and context to give the employer an idea about your level of responsibility. This will help position you for a higher-level role.

For example, how much P&L or budget have you have managed? Have you managed any direct reports? How about size of territory? Identifying all these factors in detail will play an important role in planning out your next career move.

Challenge yourself to dive further by asking yourself:

* What happens when you do what you do in relation to strategic goals?

--> Have you increased revenue and by how much?

--> How much have you improved process efficiencies? Saved costs? Boosted individual or team performance? (Use metrics such as $, % or #s).

--> How have you transformed the organizational culture or fostered change?

* What are the precise results that you achieved? Include your key success strategy to the achievement.

* Be 100% accurate!

When you highlight results, the employer will then understand your unique value and makes initial conversations more engaging. Failing to include relevant numbers or results can mean the difference between a mediocre résumé or a stellar résumé that will help you 'hit the ground running' with your career.

Examples of achievements using metrics:

** Transformed an underperforming division and scaled growth by 35%.

** Drove world-class reliability and cost-efficiency improvements 30% against benchmarks by deploying Six Sigma principles.

Addressing your achievements will help you and the employer or recruiter to understand your offerings and brand. It will also support you in taking ownership of both your career success and challenges and guide you to thoughtfully convey your milestones during the interview.

For more information on the results of my strategy, view the success stories.

Lori A. Jazvac is the Founder / Master Resume Writer / Career Consultant of Creative Horizons Communications, a one-stop, award-winning resume writing/career consulting firm based in Halton that helps further the career goals of jobseekers of all levels and fields, both locally and abroad.

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