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Crafting Your Career Narrative: How to Tell Your Story in an Interview
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Crafting Your Career Narrative: How to Tell Your Story in an Interview

Crafting Your Career Narrative: How to Tell Your Story in an Interview

Before interviewing for a job, experts advise to think about your career narrative. 

The improved economy has brought one unexpected drawback for job seekers. Those left without a job a few years back could more easily describe themselves as victims of downsizing. Today, they have more explaining to do.

“They’re more likely getting fired because of performance and not the economy, and hiring managers know that,” says Roy Cohen, a New York City career consultant and author.

And though the tendency when you lose a job is to start looking for a new one right away, you should fight that urge. It’s crucial to explain your job loss through what Cohen calls a “separations narrative.”

“The path to career hell is paved with the very best of intentions. You need a game plan and an airtight alibi,” Cohen says.

Spend time trying to understand what went wrong, so that you can come up with a good explanation.

“Your goal now is to decide which reasons will be least and most offensive and provide context as you tell your story,” Cohen adds.

Again, don’t reach out for the phone before you’ve carefully thought through how you want to position the separation. There’s a lot of information that needs to be sorted through and organized for its relevance in telling the story, Cohen says. But be cautious. No one wants or needs to know the absolute and complete truth. And remember that you have nothing to gain by introducing anger or a desire for revenge.

Cohen says as individuals craft their separation narrative, they should keep in mind the following:

• Give yourself some time. You must take time to examine the events rationally and your relationship to those events. The story will get easier to tell with some distance and perspective. But don’t deny that it happened. You also need to acknowledge the reality that it will take time to make an effective reentry.

• Prepare a number of reasons. A single reason can be disputed or challenged. The ideal number is three, but be consistent. Interviewers generally listen for inconsistencies and for incomplete explanations. Both will drive them to distraction, so it’s up to you to keep them on target.

• Acknowledge your role. If you were let go because of performance issues, you need to ensure the interviewer that you have learned from the past and that you have addressed the challenges that you had with your previous employer.

© CTW Features


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