Learn to tell your story if your job hunting or switching careers, from the book ‘Thriving at 50+’
Wendy Marx has had five careers: social worker, newspaper reporter, marketer, PR entrepreneur and now career coach and reinvention expert. In this excerpt from her new book, “Thriving at 50+,” Marx explains why knowing how to tell your story can help you find work in midlife or find your next act.
Imagine this scenario: You’re fired from a job you loved after 30 years. What do you tell yourself and others? How do you handle the pain, the upset and blow to your ego?
Herminia Ibarra and Kent Lineback, in a Harvard Business Review article, wrote that in the beginning of a transition when the future isn’t clear, you will need to “craft different stories for different possible selves (and the various audiences that relate to those selves).”
“You’ve been a banker, human resource specialist, salesperson, electrician, lawyer, whatever for a long time,” Marci Alboher, career and workplace trends expert and Encore.org vice president, wrote in her book The Encore Career. “So, expect to feel strange when you leave an identity behind and no longer have an easy way to describe yourself.”
Creating a story — or revising the one you’ve told — can help you accept your reinvention transition and see its best features. In a transition, your story is your road map. It needs to define both who you are and where you’re headed.
What is a story?
In their Harvard Business Review article, Ibarra and Lineback wrote about a networking event of senior managers who were downsized from lucrative jobs. Unfortunately, most of the managers, in sharing what they had done, simply recounted a laundry list of credentials and jobs. As a result, the audience didn’t care, because they weren’t clear on how to help.
The senior managers failed to distinguish between facts and a story.
“All good stories have a characteristic so basic and necessary it’s often assumed,” said Ibarra and Lineback. “That quality is coherence, and it’s crucial to life stories of transition.”