How To Write The Next Chapter Of Your Career Story

To Mike RosenbergIESE Business School

When you meet people in formal settings, such as job interviews or casual networking events, they ask what you do and how you fulfill that particular role in that particular place. . In other words, they’re asking, “What’s your story?”

In my experience as a headhunter and later as a business school professor, I have heard personal stories filled with anger and betrayal when people tell stories of unemployment and abuse. and optimism for the future. What many people’s stories reveal is that they consciously put little thought into choosing the landscape of their professional lives. Indeed, one thing that strikes me after hearing so many stories is that many people don’t seem to know where they are.

That’s why I encourage everyone to work on their own story as a way to organize what the next chapter should be. Whether you’ve been able to do it or have crossed different terrains, it’s important for building your current professional path.

This is easier said than done as it can be difficult to delve into past choices, both good and bad. To help people understand the process, I often start with two metaphors.


As we descend, it is the river that determines our speed and direction. People who don’t feel a strong connection to their work resonate with this metaphor. It also applies to many people who started their career paths by semi-randomly applying for internships or getting their first job offers from friends and relatives. Years later, they may find themselves following the same path with little thought as to where they want to go.

However, it’s not just that going down rivers is easy. Sometimes the river moves too slowly, sometimes the rapids are exhilarating and sometimes frightening. Some capsize, others pay too much attention to their boat and lose sight of other important aspects of their lives. In nature, rivers can change course or dry up from time to time.

The point is that if the overall direction is not what someone really wants, they will have to reach the riverbank and take the boat entirely to another river or actually change careers. That’s it.

What draws people to the river metaphor is the sense that their professional journey is somehow out of their control.


A second metaphor compares our professional life to an adventure race.

Start on well-maintained flat ground field Stretch as far as the eye can see. At this stage, the faster you run, the farther you can fly. The next step is rough Bumpy rocky terrain. To avoid rough pitfalls in business, you need to set a reasonable pace.

on the edge of forest, you have to be careful not to hit a tree or actually become a political obstacle. The forest itself is full of pitfalls and traps, and it’s important to stay on track at all times.

beyond the forest swamp, where visibility is poor and the ground is damp. If you get lost, you may have to return to the forest and choose another path to reach your destination.

storytelling essentials

No matter which metaphor you apply to yourself, there are 7 keys to telling your story in a compelling way.

1. it has to be true. Recruiters have ears for exaggerated, misleading, or outright lies. If they feel something is wrong, your candidacy will be rejected.

2. Be funny and concise. I always advise preparing two versions of the story: a two minute elevator pitch and a longer version up to 10 minutes that you can talk over coffee.

3. How you say it is as important as what you say. It’s okay to touch on difficult topics when telling a story, but it’s wise to approach them from a positive perspective. How have difficulties grown you?

Four. take responsbility onSimilar to number 3, it’s about acknowledging your shortcomings and mistakes rather than chalking up every bump on your professional path to bad luck.

5. The best stories focus on learning. For example, telling a headhunter that you didn’t properly evaluate past opportunities shows honest self-reflection and evolution as a person.

6. Know your audience and adapt your storytelling accordinglyIn a globalized business environment, cultural sensitivity is important. For example, Americans often boast about their achievements in a way that many Europeans and Asians would consider arrogant.

7. Pandemics and other seismic events can affect stories. If COVID-19 or the Ukrainian invasion has affected your journey, you are not alone. I strongly encourage people to take responsibility again for their own situation and how it has served as a model for self-improvement.

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