career changechange jobsinterviewingjob searchlayoffNetworkingnew careerpersonal brandStep up, and learn how to tell your career story | Career Coach Sherri Thomas

September 9, 2012by Sherri Thomas0



You are the “story teller” of your own career.

Every day, people are making judgements and assumptions about you based on what you’re telling them.  So if you’re sending the message that you’ve been short-changed, passed over or stepped on in your career, then people will see you as someone who doesn’t have much value in the workplace.

However, if you send a strong, clear message that you’re a key contributor with some big successes under your belt – others will be more likely to give you job leads, job offers and bigger career opportunities.



Here are a few tips to help you frame your “career story”…

  1. Stop being humble.

Being humble can be a career killer, or at its very best, a career stifller.  Yes, it’s a nice quality to have, but if you never talk about some of the successes you’ve had with your professional network, then you career is sure to sit on a shelf for the next 10 years.

I had lunch yesterday with one of my best friends from college who went on to become an Emmy winning TV news reporter and now advises Corporate leaders as a Media Strategist. He mentioned that he’s ready to expand his business, but he’s not the type of person to brag about himself.  This is a man who has interviewed 3 U.S. Presidents (Carter, Clinton and Bush Jr.)  How would organizational leaders ever know to hire him if he doesn’t “put himself out there”?

Talking about your accomplishments builds your credibility. It lets people know what you’re good at, what you can accomplish, and what you have to offer.  It makes you stand out from the crowd.  If you want to get noticed, then you’ll need to learn how to talk about your achievements, not in an arrogant kind of way, but more in an “I’m a key contributor who gets big results” kind of way.

Write down 2-3 of your biggest achievements over the past three years.  Now, practice saying out loud in a sentence or two how you contributed to those successes and what the impact was to the organization.  For example, “I was the technical lead for a new internal tool that was launched on the SAP platform.  The tool is now saving the company $100,000 a year.”  Or, “I was the Creative Director on the marketing campaign for the xyz product which helped the company gain 3% more market share.”

The key to getting more job offers, leads and opportunities is leaning how to talk about your successes.  Nobody will know what you’ve accomplished unless you tell them.

        2. Frame your story in a positive way.

One of my favorite chapters in my new book, “The Bounce Back” gives strategies on how to frame your story to hiring managers after you’ve been laid off or experienced a career setback.  Managers, Sr. leaders, customers, and hiring managers create their perception of you based on what you tell them.  So if you talk about your career in a positive, confident way – then they are going to think of you as a positive and confident employee.

For example, earlier in my career I was laid off and then hired as the Regional Marketing Manager for a Fortune 100 company.  I believe that a large part of the reason I was hired was because of the way I told my story to the Vice President (who hired me and became my direct manager.)  During the interview, I talked about how the company that laid me off was a great company and how much I loved my role and responsibilities. I truly believed in what I was saying and so my tone was very genuine. Then, I addressed the reason for my layoff which was, “I didn’t realize when I took the position that I was expected to fill the shoes of two employees. Even though I had some big results and was good at my job, I just simply couldn’t fill both of their shoes.”  The VP called me the next day to tell me I was hired.

Everybody has setbacks in their career. Everybody!!  The key is to frame your career story in the most positive, honest and confident way possible. 

         3. Don’t take yourself out of the game because you fumbled.

I had a TV interview last week and the reporter asked about my book. I froze up.  I got nervous, said “umm” and garbled out a few sentence.  Man oh man, I wish I could have a do-over.  

It happens to all of us. Whether it’s a job interview, a big presentation or the perfect networking opportunity – sometimes, we just freeze up. It happens, and it happens to everyone.  The key is not to beat yourself up.  And don’t shy away from future opportunities to give a big presentation or go on job interviews.  The lesson is to learn from the situation and then do better next time.

Continue looking for opportunities to step into the spotlight and tell your story again and again.  If you flubbed up a presentation, then go ask the team leader if you can present again with some new data that you just received.  If you fumbled an interview, then send an e-mail to the interviewer providing a little more clarity on your experience or area of expertise.  For me, I wrote to the TV reporter and tee’d up a few more tips out of the book to share with her viewers, and right now we’re scheduling a follow-up interview.

Sometimes a do-over isn’t possible, and if that’s the case, then just get on with looking for your next opportunity and be ready to strut your stuff.  Don’t let a negative experience stop you from moving your career forward.  Get out there, find your voice and share your career story with confidence.  Your next career opportunity is out there – you just have to go find it! 😉


Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of two books including “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” which is currently on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, and “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster from a layoff, re-org or career setback“ also available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.   Sherri’s gift to you is (3) THREE FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at

Sherri Thomas

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