I explore career exploration and professional self-presentation through a linguistic lens, through a project I call Stories Behind the Search. When it comes down to it, job searching is ultimately a series of texts and interactions, each of which with its own genre conventions and expectations. A linguist’s eye is invaluable in navigating these highly textual genres. Through increased awareness of how language, and especially narrative, works in these contexts, I aim to help job seekers better tell stories that connect with their audiences.
For example, we might explore expectations about professional self-presentation through use of LinkedIn, the “world’s largest professional network.” Often, when people begin with LinkedIn, the first thing that they must grapple with are challenging the expectations that they have brought with them to social interaction on the site, including and perhaps especially, expectations brought from Facebook. Given that these are unarticulated norms, speakers don’t realize that they have them, simply assuming that everyone understands and uses the site the same way that they do. For example, many people new to the site are overly worried about the impression they are giving off and don’t think about using it to find, but rather about being found. Such misperceptions about what is expected on this platform will keep new users from full engaging with the site, which in turn limit how they use it to interact it, and how they understand those who interact with them. With this false impression, the misunderstandings proliferate, all of which limit how the jobseeker might be understood professionally.
- one-on-one consulting
For nearly 10 years, I have worked with linguists engaged in career education, career exploration, and professional self-presentation. If you are a linguist thinking about career, I will help you in bringing your linguistic understanding to the language that you use to talk about yourself and your work. I guide you in framing and analyzing language in a variety of media and contexts, including:
- Storytelling about career / work
- Informational interviewing
- Social media (presence and outreach)
- especially LinkedIn and Twitter
- Elevator pitch
- Formal interviewing
- Statements of purpose/research
- Teaching philosophy
- Your value proposition
I am happy to help brainstorm, do industry research, and even stage mock interviews. Some of my favorite activities include doing an ethnography of an organization’s website, free-writing activities to help you identify themes from “all the jobs you’ve had before,” engaging in conversations with a job ad, and story coaching. I particularly enjoy organizing and facilitating peer feedback sessions.