CAREER

How to Make Sense of a Twisty Career Path

By Nicole Spiegel‒Gotsch

Everyone has one—the outlier, that one (or more) experience on your resume that doesn’t seem to fit. As someone whose professional life has been filled with more twists and turns than I care to admit, I get it. Making sense of a twisty career path can be challenging during the best of times. Add in the uncertainty of a global pandemic, and it can begin to feel a bit daunting, especially for new graduates and young professionals just starting out.

After countless conversations with colleagues, clients and friends, here’s what I realized. The idea of a straight-line career path is a myth. A quick Google search revealed that most people will have 12 jobs over the course of their lives. Another often-cited statistic from GoRemotely.net indicates that people will switch careers five to seven times during their working years. With the exception of fields with clearly defined tracks, it’s safe to say that most people will find themselves trying to make sense of disparate job experiences at some point in their career, particularly as the trends of job-hopping and career-switching continue to define the pandemic job market.

The question is how? Whether you’re a job seeker or trying to tweak your personal brand, the first thing I recommend is looking at your resume (or LinkedIn profile) as a narrative, a story you’re crafting to create a picture of who you are and why you’re a match for a potential employer, client or opportunity. Keep in mind, nothing is set in stone. You should anticipate revising your resume and other materials frequently because as you change and grow, your story will too. Here are three tips to get you started.

1. Define and align

The first step is defining your goal. Assuming you’re a job seeker, think about your ideal job. Find an example job description. How does your resume align with that? This doesn’t mean copying a bunch of skills or the language from the job description. It’s about identifying aspects of your experiences that are a match to your target position. You may have to look at your experience from a different angle. Talking it through with a friend, mentor or coach can help too.

2. Look for common threads

Chances are there’s at least one common thread across all your jobs. Often, these are skills. For example, you may have used creative or analytical skills in all your roles. A specific audience, market or industry can also be pulled out as a common thread.

3. Ruthlessly edit, thoughtfully curate

What are the key points that will support the story you’re trying to tell? While it’s tempting to treat our resumes like a laundry list, cutting out less relevant information leaves more room for your highlights to shine. When in doubt, ask yourself, “Would anything be lost if I left this information out?”

Lastly, remember, not only is it okay if things don’t go exactly as planned—it’s to be expected!

Nicole Spiegel‒Gotsch

Nicole Spiegel‒Gotsch is the founder and CEO of Mavyn, a consultancy launched in 2020 to help women business owners, entrepreneurs and “sidepreneurs” master their marketing. When she’s not working, you’ll find her writing, doing yoga or spending time with her husband and their dog Bea. Connect with her @hellomavyn on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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