CareerPersonal GrowthProblems

Falling into a Career That You Can’t Get Out Of

One of the great things about my job is that I get to travel around the country and talk to a lot of people.

People interest me. I have always been sincerely curious about them: what makes them tick, what they do to make a living, and how they cope with the everyday and global challenges that impact all of us.

But I have noticed something interesting over the years. Most professionals have a difficult time explaining what they do. Everybody has a quick response. A soundbyte. But when you scratch beneath the surface, it is very difficult for the majority of people to articulate where they are going in an easy to understand and empowering manner. As a marketing professional, I find this fascinating. It’s essentially a personal branding problem.

Too many of us fall into careers that are not clearly defined, and simply respond reactively to every challenge that emerges, while others are forced by organizational cost pressures to absorb multiple job functions over time. In effect, we wind up pursuing several career paths in parallel and have great difficulty explaining in simple terms, even to ourselves, what we do and where we are going. But if you can’t properly distill the arc of your professional experience, and summarize the value you bring, it is going to be nearly impossible to market yourself to prospective new employers or customers.

Some advice for those of you who understand what I am talking about: First, write down the different career paths that potentially emerge out of your work experience. Second, identify those aspects of your work that you enjoy the most, and map them to one of these paths. Third, restructure your personal narrative and profile so that your primary path is at the forefront.

It is not complicated. You just have to be willing to pause and search inside yourself once in a while to make sure that you stay properly calibrated.

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