Updated: Mar 26, 2019
Once upon a time, there was …
“a ‘hard-working’ ‘professional’ with ‘great’ (fill in the blank…) ‘skills’ and a ‘good command’ of (fill in the blank…) who was ‘looking for a new opportunity’. My main ‘weakness’ is that I am a ‘perfectionist’, and that’s what helps me deliver the ‘best-quality work’ possible.”
And she kept looking.
Does the language in that first paragraph sound familiar to you? I bet you have seen it in dozens of CV templates and used some of it yourself in your own job applications and interviews. If you have worked in an HR, training or recruitment capacity, you have probably seen hundreds of examples of these to the point where you have actually stopped reading them or even paying attention. It is normal. If you are reading this article, chances are you are a ‘human being’ and not a robot, and a human being is unable to read the same waffle (like the above) day in and day out and not lose complete interest. You are probably wondering why I am telling you this if you already have a job… Well, I won’t beat around the bush.
Your ‘job-search’ starts the day you take on a new position.
You may ask ‘but why’? What is the point? I want to relax for a bit. It is too early to start job-hunting again. I am not talking about frantically looking for another position and sending around endless cookie-cutter CVs and copy-paste cover letters. Not talking about stuffing your content with buzz-words like the ones in the paragraph above. Nor am I talking about draining yourself while filling out those black-hole online applications. In fact, I am against ‘looking for’ a new job. That statement that several LinkedIn users post on their profiles reflects laziness and comes from a mentality of scarcity. You want to be more proactive.
No one is going to ‘give’ you something just because you are ‘asking’. How do such statements help you stand out? How do they show what YOU can CREATE that is so unique to you as an individual? What challenges would you help your organization or business partners overcome? How are you going to be a change agent in your daily work? What I do mean is to ‘not miss a beat’. What I am talking about is purposefully and systematically showing up to work. Really showing up with your whole authentic self and ready to make an impact. Identify opportunities and gaps where you can create something new that will light you up and make you buzz. Create; don’t wait. It is only while you are getting your hands dirty, taking a risk and welcoming the possibility of ‘failing’ that you will start shifting what ‘you’ think about ‘yourself’; what you ‘can’ and ‘cannot’ do – what is possible… You will never know if you don’t actually try and you will always be that ‘perfectionist’ who will block their own creativity because they think they are never good enough.
Why is it that we, entry-level, mid-career and even senior working individuals represent ourselves with the dullest and most disempowering language there is? Why is the true potential of the most talented and capable people hidden behind interminable nonsense? Why do we assume that acting inferior will make someone hire us? I meet people who are passionate, multi-talented trend-setters in their fields day after day, and those are unfortunately the very people who keep themselves small. While we work on their branding, they tell me that they “don’t like to brag” and that they “don’t want to sound pretentious”…etc. Sadly, the more accomplishments they make, the more used they become to being unappreciated and the less confidence they have. Such people end up never sharing those beautiful gifts with their organizations and communities.
Your narrative is you.
Instead of stepping into the power of their achievements, such individuals continue to play small, and while doing that, they do not realize that they are in fact harming themselves, the organizations they work for and the people they are supposed to be serving and impacting. Playing small will prevent you from leading and inspiring others. Bringing on your own authenticity will work like magic for others around you; they will want to have a taste of the confidence you exude. In a nutshell, you are not doing yourself or others any favors by playing small. It is counterproductive and will also keep your company or organization small. Allowing yourself to grow will help transform both your work and your workplace.
Your narrative is you.
The language you use to tell your story is the primary reflection of who you are now and the primary projection of who you will be in your future relationship with your co-workers, managers, recruiters, business collaborators and customers. Communicating your values, standards, and vision with clarity will help you align your goals with those of your organization. This is what sets you apart and makes you an impactful collaborator and a partner rather than just another employee. This will ultimately set the tone for your current and future professional and business relationships and for the rest of your career. How do you do this? There is a magic three-piece toolkit that everyone has access to but many are not capitalizing on. These will replace the boring, dry, robotic, old-school job-application materials we are so accustomed to. Here goes.
The magic three-piece toolkit
1. Your Career Narrative.
Ditch that horrible multi-bulleted CV. You are not a list. You are a human being. Write like it and act like it. How do you problem-solve and impact? If you need help writing copy, get help; it is worth it.
2. Your Power Statement.
Forget the copy-paste, meaningless cover-letter blabber. It is NOT true. No one can do everything, all the time, perfectly well. You are not a circus juggler. You are a professional who wants to be taken seriously. We eventually get drained and become less productive after months or even weeks of ‘hard work’. You know that, so don’t pretend you can. Focus instead on narrating the empowering experiences in your life and career. That will be much more exciting and will get the attention of recruiters, collaborators and followers alike.
3. Your LinkedIn Brand.
As you already know, without the right digital presence, you do not exist as a professional. ‘Hard-work’ is the worst thing you can use for your own marketing whether you are employed or between jobs. Working hard and being able to ‘do anything’ and stretch yourself…etc. makes recruiters respect you less, not more. Get in touch with your values and passions and explore how they translate themselves into the work you do, amplify your strengths and be mindful and strategic with how you build your network.
Any content you publish about yourself and your work should emanate from your own authentic experience; i.e., your own accomplishments and not from a panicked night applying for a last-minute job.
Take ownership of your career. Choose your words carefully. Step into your own power. Brand yourself.
Change that story.