Here’s my toast to the new year!! a look at what it means to adopt a story practice featuring an excerpt from my forthcoming book Bringing Linguistics to Work: A story listening, story finding and story telling approach to your career. I am currently proof editing the thing as we speak! Here’s to a professionally adventurous 2017 – with lots and lots of stories!
Story practice involves an active awareness, appreciation, and application of story in service of career. Stories compress a lot of information about the world into memorable, meaningful packages. Once entextualized (that is, recognized or identified as texts), they become portable. They can be de- and re-contextualized, reinterpreted from one context to the next, rehearsed, repeated, and retold. Stories give shape, direction, and meaning to experience. By learning to seek out stories in your community, to recognize them in the discourse around you, and to tell them more effectively yourself, you can equip yourself with a powerful set of skills for agentively managing your own career path.
This means, for example, having stories at the ready to help a potential employer understand what you bring to the table. It means viewing texts—such as a job announcement or an organization’s webpage— as containing stories that you can analyze and respond to. It means collecting a set of stories that you can incorporate into your own texts—resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and even ordinary conversations—whenever you need them. Stories provide illuminating windows into the world of work: they can show what skills and knowledge you have and what you can do with those assets, and they can help you identify and articulate your own aspirations. Story-based interactions lie at the heart of successful networking practices, and once you know what stories can do for you, you will learn to seek them out and perhaps create interactions that elicit stories.
When you’re conducting informational interviews and can offer a little story as an example of your own experiences and skills, or when you’re composing your application documents or sitting in a job interview, stories provide context, detail, and coherence. Stories create connections. No matter where you go on your career path, you’re surrounded by opportunities for listening to, finding, and telling stories.
The idea here is to show you how adopting a story practice can help you to leverage opportunities to your best advantage. In the process you’ll learn more about yourself and what you value (and why), which is of tremendous value in the process of jobsearching (as in life).