The last time we were together, we started the process of completing a career tune-up. If you haven’t read Part 1, reviewed your goals, or updated your resume, I encourage you to complete those steps before reading on.
A career tune-up is much like a tune-up you might schedule for a car. It’s preventive maintenance to make sure everything continues to perform well. It helps you determine whether something is wrong and keeps vital systems from breaking down.
Today we’ll cover the last two steps of a career tune-up – updating your collection of career stories and checking in with your network.
Step 3: Update Your Collection of Career Stories
When was the last time you told someone a story? I bet it wasn’t that long ago. We use stories to share our lived experiences.
You can share how you experienced any situation – from a routine trip to the grocery store to an epic vacation – with a story. But how someone experiences that situation through you depends on the quality of your storytelling.
The same goes for stories you tell about your career experiences.
“Stories have the ability to help us learn about others and to find understanding and empathy for them and their situations.” ~Kate Hurst
Even if you’re early in your career, you have key experiences that speak to your strengths and ability to achieve results. One of the best ways to prepare for interviews, performance reviews, and other career-related conversations is to have a collection of stories for sharing these experiences.
The best part is – you don’t have to be a master storyteller to share your experiences!
Using a simple framework like the SOAR model can help you outline and practice compelling career stories.
Situation: Here’s where you set the scene for the story. What situation were you facing? Keep this concise – provide just enough details to help them understand the big picture.
Obstacles and Opportunities: Now it’s time to share the challenges or problems presented by the situation. What opportunities did you identify in the challenges you faced?
Action: What did you do to overcome the obstacle or address the opportunity? If you’re telling a story about a team-based experience, here’s where you shift from a “we” focus to an “I” focus. Give yourself permission to talk about your specific contributions to solving the problem.
Results: Here’s where you answer the question, “So what?” Sharing your actions without also sharing the resulting impact is like telling a joke without a punchline. Note the accomplishments associated with your contributions, quantifying the results whenever possible.
I coach my clients to take this one step further and think about SOAR+ stories – your SOAR stories overlaid with your strengths, skills, and values.
SOAR+ stories help you see where and how your strengths, preferred skills, and values show up most often. Equally important, being intentional about including these elements in career stories gives people a sense of who you are and what you bring to the table.
Once you have your outline, it’s time to practice! Practice your stories in different ways…
Share a story during a check-in with your mentor.
Ask your career coach for feedback on a story.
Record yourself telling a story.
Ask for feedback from a few people you trust. Over time, you’ll refine your stories so they are both compelling and concise.
Start your collection of stories today by reflecting on your past experiences and jotting down a few of your favorite accomplishments. Then, outline those accomplishments using the SOAR+ framework.
Add to your collection each time you complete a career tune-up. Create at least one SOAR+ story based on a professional or volunteer experience. This is a great exercise to complete after you’ve updated your resume and while your recent accomplishments are top of mind.
Need help with creating or practicing your SOAR+ stories? I can help! Let’s connect for a free discovery call.
Step 4: Check in With Your Network
You’ve revisited your goals, updated your resume, and added new entries to your collection of career stories. Celebrate all you’ve done – both in terms of completing most of your career tune-up and the progress and achievements you’ve made over the past few months!
With the lion’s share of your career tune-up behind you, it’s time to wrap up this process by checking in with your network.
Before you begin reaching out to people, think about the who, why, and what of your network.
✔️Who’s in your immediate and expanded network?
✔️Why are you connected with them?
✔️What is the nature of your relationship and what mutual benefit is gained from your connection?
“Your network is your net worth.” ~Porter Gale
Your ability to build meaningful and authentic professional relationships is essential to your growth and development. Relationships become meaningful and authentic when they reflect your values and interests and have an element of reciprocity.
If you find yourself only ever reaching out to someone out of sheer obligation or personal gain, rethink that connection.
The best connections are those made with people who…
🤝🏾Share at least some of your values and interests
🤝🏾Have strengths and skills complementary to your own
🤝🏾Both ask for and offer help and expertise
🤝🏾You actually want to connect with
Reflect on the quality of your network and identify any changes you need to make. You might find there are connections you need to (politely) let go of or some you need to rekindle.
Then, think about your network within the context of the first three steps of your career tune-up. Who might you connect with to identify new opportunities related to your goals? Volunteer your expertise for a good cause? Exchange general updates and career stories?
How often you connect with people in your network is up to you and might be determined by the nature of the professional relationship. Some connections might naturally fall into a monthly or quarterly cadence while others will occur less often. Whatever the cadence, make sure that both you and the other person are comfortable with the frequency, and do your part to maintain consistency in connecting.
Career Elevation Tip: Before ending any networking conversation, always ask two questions: “Who else should I be talking to?” and “How can I help?” This will help you grow your network and demonstrate your interest in contributing to others’ growth and development.
Congratulations! You’ve completed your career tune-up!
Hopefully, you’re feeling more confident about managing your career. With each iteration, the process will feel more natural. With that in mind – go ahead and schedule your next career tune-up now!
One more thing – as someone who enjoys the structure of rules and clear processes, I understand if you feel the need to follow the steps exactly as I’ve laid them out here. However, I encourage you to embrace flexibility and do what works best for you.
Feel free to adjust the process as needed. Complete the components at different cadences. Switch the order of the steps. Add another step.
Remember, the goal of a career tune-up is to conduct preventive maintenance to enhance the performance and long-term trajectory of your career. Your career path is your own. Manage it in a way that’s effective and efficient for you!