You might know that I started my private practice as a resume writer. I expanded into career coaching when I noticed that some clients needed more help to determine their career direction, strongest skill sets, types of jobs they desired, target industries and employers, and what would bring them true career satisfaction. A new resume wouldn’t necessarily fix their situation unless they reached clarity around these issues.
As a resume writer, I gave my clients detailed questionnaires, to help them produce value-driven content for their resumes. Some clients would get stuck on this exercise, because they were feeling very confused, overwhelmed, powerless and unconfident about their career transition. Some were despondent over a job loss. Others had become so accustomed to doing work they no longer enjoyed that this blocked them from moving forward.
When I transitioned into career coaching, I had more tools to help clients break out of this funk. The most amazing process I’ve discovered is Success Factor Analysis, an organic method where we analyze 10-15 of their proudest career achievements, then distill them down into 3-8 “Key Success Factors” (as highlighted in my July article: “Know Your Top Transferable Skill Sets, Then Plan Your Career Transition”). Success Factor Analysis has helped many clients get clear about skills they’re naturally good at and passionate about, instead of trying to be all things to all people.
After clients nail down their Key Success Factors, the next step is to substantiate each one by writing two 40-60-word “Reality Stories” about how they used that specific skill at their highest level of effectiveness, and exactly how these contributions impacted present and past employers. This exercise helps clients gain insights about their unique career success patterns and helps them understand what they can offer future employers.
These “Reality Stories” become the core content that is used throughout clients’ career transition campaigns in multiple ways: 1) tightened for resume bullets; 2) edited for LinkedIn profiles; 3) expanded for answers for interview questions or 4) woven into networking conversations. The possibilities are endless! Now, my clients no longer feel angst over resume questionnaires. All the career marketing content they’ll ever need comes to them through Success Factor Analysis.
You may have already discovered what your top transferable skill sets are, perhaps through personal discovery or online assessments. For instance, if you’re in sales, you’re probably good at persuasion, negotiations and client relations. If you’re a number-cruncher, most likely you excel at accounting, bookkeeping and creating complex spreadsheets. Whatever your skills are, consider backing them with your own Reality Stories. Follow this outline:
* Context (“While working at”):
* Challenge (“I was given the responsibility to”):
* Action (“So I”):
* Result (“As a result of my efforts”):
You might be wondering, “Why create Reality Stories before knowing an ideal career direction?” My answer is: people in career transition typically don’t feel at their peak performance, despite how successful they’ve been in the past. I’ve discovered that when clients tap into these stories, it literally explodes their self-confidence and opens them up to new career possibilities. Plus, the stories can be slanted to “speak the language” of a variety of target industries or professions.
Reality Stories that showcase your expertise are essential elements of your career marketing campaign, built upon the foundation of your top transferable skill set. Taking the time to do this exercise will help you reclaim your confidence – and build your career marketing content!
© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2012
* This post originally appeared in the September 2012 Edition of Career E-News.
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