What's Your [Career] Story?

Posted by Erin Cunningham on Apr 16, 2019 12:04:28 PM

What do you think of when you hear the word “sales”? Do you picture a door-to-door salesman in a polished suit and tie? Perhaps you’re picturing a woman in the aisle at the store who is all-smiles, just waiting for you to get within distance so she can launch into her rote sales pitch about cable. For many of us, the thought of sales conjures up images of shady salespeople who just want to make a quick buck off you.

The same is true when we think about personal branding—selling ourselves. We tend to feel awkward about self-promotion, especially when we are in a career transition and are looking to get promoted or change jobs. But what if it doesn’t have to be that way? What if we can take the basic principles of sales and branding and apply them to our careers, positioning ourselves for success?

You can be in the driver’s seat of your career, taking charge, leveraging opportunities to showcase your skills and telling your story with confidence and passion. On the other hand, you can sit in the backseat and leave your career success up to chance, waiting for your boss to recognize your brilliance. Which option will you choose? 

In the job search, we tend to rely on potential employers to drive the process. Let’s flip the script and drive our own career transition. Let’s not leave anything up to chance. Let’s create our own opportunities for success.

How do we do that? It all starts with a story. It’s human nature to tell stories. When we hear an inspiring story, it moves us to take action, whatever that action may be. Your story has power, and when you can tell it in an impactful way, you will inspire others and influence the outcome in a favorable way. 

When you start telling your story, your confidence and self-assurance will grow. But it won’t be easy. Then again, nothing worth doing ever is. 

When you start moving forward in your career, you will notice that negativity bias begins to emerge. Thoughts of self-doubt, inadequacies and insecurities will flood your mind. We must learn to recognize the negative self-talk and replace it with positive affirmations if we want to move forward.

It may seem counterintuitive, but it can be really hard for us to take ownership of the successes we’ve had in our careers. That’s where other people come into play. They can be valuable resources in our careers, pointing out our blind spots and helping us see our value. Having a strong support network goes a long way. The career transition can feel so isolating, but when you realize that there are others out there in the same position as you, it’s empowering.

No matter where you are in your career, whether you’re in a stable position or actively seeking new opportunities, I encourage you to put yourself in the driver’s seat. You’re an expert in your own professional narrative and only YOU can tell your story. Stop leaving your success to chance—take charge today and be amazed as things start to fall into place.

Want more insights from Erin Cunningham? This month, Erin is leading a workshop at CU South Denver titled “Crafting Your Professional Narrative.” In this workshop, you will learn to talk about your professional experiences in an actionable way and walk away with your own professional narrative, feeling empowered and motivated to drive your own career success. Crafting Your Professional Narrative will run from 1 – 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 25. Registration is $99 and space is limited.

About the Author

erin head shotErin Cunningham is the director of employee engagement in the Dean’s Office, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder. She previously served as the director of wellness programs, training and leadership development at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. For more than 15 years, Erin has had the privilege of coaching more than 3,000 clients on wellness, personal and professional development, allowing them to feel empowered to accomplish their unique goals. She focuses her professional efforts on delivery and administration of group learning environments and one-on-one coaching aimed at individual and organizational growth. Erin leverages her previous experience as Vice President of a Denver based management consulting firm to create programs aimed at improvements in organizational culture and strategy.

Topics: Talent Tips, Power (Soft) Skills

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