Earlier this week, we were thrilled to partner with FEI Canada to bring our popular “Crafting a Career Story that Sells” series to FEI’s network of senior financial executives across Canada. This webinar was an interactive conversation between Andrew Seeley, Head of Consulting at Clarity and Mireille Khayat, CPA, CMA, Financial Executive and active FEI member. Here we share a recap of the conversation as well as some helpful tips on how everyone can become better storytellers of their own career journey.

Crafting your own career narrative begins with reflecting on where you were born. Try jotting down three truths about the city and/or country you grew up in. What was it like growing up? Then reflect on each key milestone in your career so that you know your path. Answer why you did what you did. This will allow you to connect the dots on how the earlier truths and themes have weaved in and out of your life experiences. In Mireille’s case, she grew up in Beirut, Lebanon describing it as the “Switzerland of the Middle East” in a very close knit, entrepreneurial family. She remembers counting buttons for her father who was a wholesaler. In doing this exercise, she discovered that “Entrepreneurship” has been a core theme throughout her life, and that she gravitates to roles where she can wear a “business hat” and excel in a collaborative matrix environment that drives the business.

Beirut is like the "Switzerland of the Middle East"

Her family immigrated to Canada when she was young because of the civil war. Mireille was challenged to adjust to the new environment and culture, and to make new friends. As Andrew and Mireille continued to inspect and dissect her experiences , “Challenge” became another core theme that was clearly evident throughout as she leaped into roles in new industries from packaged goods, telecommunications, life sciences, media, payments, and then into the innovation sector. More often than not, she was challenged to “turn the business around or shutdown”, and turned it around. Mireille is clearly not gun shy when it comes to new challenges and taking risks.

Andrew hosts these workshops monthly at Clarity with a group of 10-12 people in person and manages to find at least one person who is willing to have Andrew “put their career on the board” in front of strangers. The result? Others tend to nod in agreement because they went through similar experiences and know what it’s like. You build immediate trust by being open, even if you feel a little awkward and vulnerable at first.

Deliver a powerful narrative which makes you memorable, creates trust and captures attention

How to craft your career story

  1. Know your path: write down key milestones starting from where you were born, where you went to university or college, and for each milestone in your life since then
  2. Answer why you did what you did
  3. Identify your core themes and patterns in your life
  4. Craft your story using the themes and patterns to connect each milestone that got you to where you are today
  5. Practice telling your story in the mirror, with your family, with your friends, in interviews, with your peers and/or team and at any other opportunity you get
  6. Deliver a powerful narrative which makes you memorable, creates trust and captures attention

3 Tips on Telling Your Story

  1. Avoid negative words: Negative words are more lasting. They stand out more. You need at least 2 positive words in a sentence to defuse 1 negative word.
  2. Position every experience as a plus: Map language to conscious choice in the form of “I chose to” in place of “I had to”.
  3. Don’t skip where you were born: Where you were born is powerful and it may seem vulnerable to talk about your childhood, but it builds trust.  

We encourage you craft your own narrative. Give it a try in your next interview or with your existing team. Leave a comment below to let us know what you think and how it goes for you. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to be alerted to new job opportunities, career coaching, advice on becoming a better manager, research and insights to keep you at the top of your game.