Look Backward to Power Your Professional Journey
Using Your Professional Past To Inspire Your Career Path
I bet that you have accomplished amazing things in your professional journey so far. You have made an impact on people, processes, products, and performance. And along the way, you’ve gained valuable expertise and experience.
Huzzah! Good for you.
Unless…your recollections are fuzzy, your written data sparse, and your learnings unclear.
With the passing of years, and in today’s busy, complex world, have you forgotten exactly where you’ve been and what you’ve learned?
Test yourself with these 5 questions:
Have I analyzed and catalogued my professional experiences?
Do I have complete ownership over the data and war stories from my background?
Can I fully articulate the situations, process and results that I created? Do I have a clear grasp of the challenges I dealt with and the impact I made?
Has my awareness and appreciation of my professional offering, including overall strengths, key competencies, domain expertise, work interests and work style been clarified and strengthened from this analysis?
Have I internalized the lessons and learnings to make better career decisions in the future?
If you are like the vast majority of clients, MBA students and other professionals I have met and worked with over the years, the answer is likely "no" to most of these questions.
Close your Personal Marketing Gap with Background Analysis
The trouble is, your great accomplishments are just footnotes in your history unless you take ownership of your experience. In fully realizing our potential for a fulfilling professional journey, we all face a personal marketing gap between our professional selves and the marketplace for our talent.
Here are five big reasons why this kind of self-reflection exercise is worth your time.
1. A Near-Perfect Data Source
Your experience is tangible, and in the overall process of understanding and marketing your professional identity, you simply can’t afford to ignore such an important source of data about the professional you.
2. Clues about your Professional Journey
My work at the Bold Career Project is about supporting the bold design and management of intentional professional journeys. Exploring and validating ideas about your career direction requires a strong sense of your professional offering.
3. Clues for Decision Support
Every time you make a decision, you should be referencing your past and filtering what you’ve learned. The process of cataloguing professional experience and understanding accomplishments, failures, and the various challenges we’ve dealt with provides valuable clues. Each of us is a highly complex and unique machine. With that complexity comes difficulty in understanding how we work and in what environments we can do our best work.
4. Proof & Evidence for Market Interactions
Every time you go to market, there are at least two parties in the transaction. And in almost all cases, you need to overcome objections, fill in gaps, and make the decision makers comfortable that you are someone who can do the work envisioned and also someone they want to spend a bunch of time with. Your ability to do that requires:
Demonstrating a high-level of self-awareness about who you are, what you do well, and what you need to succeed
Attracting attention by crafting a more compelling LinkedIn profile and more effective resume
Telling compelling, true, relevant stories to connect the dots between their need and your offering
Being credible by inserting facts and data to support your stories and assertions
5. Confidence Boosters
Let’s face it, we can get beat down on our professional journey. Things aren’t always rosy. Taking ownership of our professional background is also confidence building. Out of the thousands of people I have worked with, invariably there is more gold buried in professional background analysis that people think. I forgot I did that is a common refrain.
Armed with this information, you are in a better position to move forward on actions for branding and for representing yourself in the marketplace. Having a clear handle on what you have accomplished will improve your market power. Going through this process will add confidence and power to your career management and development efforts.
For these reasons, background analysis is a cornerstone activity of my client work and I have created special tools to help experienced professionals find that clarity.
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