Forge Course Day 5: Rewriting Your Job Description and Telling Your Story
It’s time to answer the big question: What do you want to be known for?
First, let’s take a pause. If you’ve made it this far, give yourself a stadium-level round of applause. You showed up and did the hard work of reflection and mapping out your pivot — all of which is a massive accomplishment. According to a Gallup study, 85% of employees have zero emotional attachment to their jobs. They’re either working to survive or biding their time before they leave. Sound familiar? If so, you’re laying the foundation to, in the words of a famous 1970s disco song, turn the beat around.
We’re not here to follow our passion, but to work with purpose. Cal Newport posits that the pursuit of passion doesn’t guarantee fulfillment and ignores many untapped talents and interests. Your self-discovery exercise examined the totality of your talents and career to define work that is imbued with purpose, performed with mastery, and with people who matter.
You started with your “why,” and now you have clarity on your evolved “what.” Before you get into how you make this happen with a plan, start simple with a new job description and story. Take ownership of your career by rewriting your narrative. To build your story, you start by asking yourself these questions.
- What am I called to do? Start with your “why.” Consider how your purpose affects your day-to-day life, all of your relationships, and the world in which we live. This frame is more powerful than having to discuss why you’re unhappy at work or want to leave your job. This elevates the conversation above the daily grind to show that you are strategic and focused on the big picture.
- What do I want to be known for? Even if the term “personal brand” makes you cringe, you have one. People have perceptions of you and the work you do. What perceptions require a shift? Sketch out a portrait of the “new you” — what features, characteristics, skills, abilities, mindsets, habits, and routines would you include?
- What skills, abilities, and talents am I carrying over into my new role? Pivots and shifts are an evolution, not a demolition. The major shift is recognizing that purpose and meaning make our lives more fulfilling personally and professionally.
- What does my new job or career look like? What is my role, specifically? What am I doing on the daily, and with whom am I working? How and where am I working? Yesterday, in composing your “future you,” you leaned on research and brainstorming. In today’s exercise, you’ll rewrite your job description.
- How is it a departure from what I’m doing today, and what will it take to get there? You’re carrying over a particular set of skills—define what needs to be added to the mix. Understanding and navigating the gaps are the first steps to creating an action plan.
We are made of stories. Storytelling isn’t about documenting every moment of our working lives. If that were the case, surveillance footage would be considered a feature film. We’re the archaeologists of ourselves — forever excavating the ancient, fascinating, and forgotten — and surgeons in the way we shape and form our discoveries in the retelling. Stories transform the mundane into the magical, cut through the clutter, and bind us to people, whether they’re our co-workers, bosses, mentors, customers, or communities.
Our brains are wired to empathize and make connections with others and the stories they tell. Our reactions are primarily emotional until the rational, more pragmatic side of our brain kicks in, which means stories have the power to immediately draw people in before they start scanning résumés for the details.
Stories make us human. They make us real. Imagine how important that is when you’re looking to evolve or pivot your role.
Everything you’ve done up to this point are the building blocks for the story you’ll tell and the work you’ll pursue. When crafting your job description, you need to visualize your future self in that role. When composing your story, you need to define your why, what, and wow. We’ll explore how to do this in today’s exercises.
Spend some time with this worksheet:
If you’re treading water and can barely stay afloat, here’s a quick tip on coping at your day job. Our final tip starts where we began: with time. Set an end date for your current role — whether you’re looking to move, transition, or evolve your job in your current company or leaving it — and create an action plan by working backwards from that end date. Once you have clarity on the end, the middle is infinitely more bearable, and you’ll give yourself time to emotionally transition from one role to another.
- Read: Power Moves: How Women Can Pivot, Reboot, and Build a Career of Purpose by Lauren McGoodwin, founder and CEO of Career Contessa. If you’re considering a move toward entrepreneurship and prioritize a rich life over riches, read Company of One by Paul Jarvis.
- Listen: If there’s a job out there, Lisa Lewis has probably done it. Lewis is a career change coach and CEO of Lisa Lewis Careers. She’s also one of only seven coaches in the world trained and certified in the Pivot Method. In this podcast episode, she shares how to rebrand yourself and tell your story so your listener is invited into the conversation.
- Learn: Three Ears Media’s excellent interactive workbook takes you step-by-step in writing standout job descriptions. Indeed.com offers a detailed tutorial on rewriting your résumé to reflect job changes and career pivots.