For many people the New Year is a time to reappraise careers and move onto new horizons. For those dissatisfied with their jobs or careers, looking for new opportunities can appear initially daunting. However, writing about your career can offer a fresh perspective to change and professional development.
Your career narrative is primarily a move away from the fixed snapshot of your capabilities or skills etc. The goal is to focus upon the career pathways you have taken or perhaps abandoned in the past.
So How Does Narrative Career Coaching Work?
It is best summed up as a method for evaluating a writing style and its content, to look at patterns of words and speech. The shifting phrases and terminology reflect an ability to step in and out of career positions, to gain control and therefore make sense of the career story.
Interestingly the mix of emotionally-loaded words can be significant. Writing that contains more positive than negative words perhaps indicates perhaps a healthier reflection for your career and progression. However, an absence of negative emotionally-laden phrases suggests an unwillingness to engage with the challenges met and overcome.
This method is a departure to systematic process of career transition management, such as looking at CV's, interview skills and covering letters etc. They are important, and are the tried and tested “plan & implement model” for those looking for a job quickly. But by exploring the individual narrative and career values (your purpose/ value in your work, for example) you can gain greater insight into what drives your career forward.
Going back to the issue of career narratives, you may be interested to have a go at becoming a career writing style explorer.
- Creative Style of Writing - One approach is to write a piece that involves a career – perhaps think of someone starting an new and exciting job - and then step back to reflect upon the themes that emerge.
- Reflective Method of Writing - To look at experiences from a range of viewpoints. Perhaps respond to a series of prompts such as “write a sentence about yourself and then write it again saying the opposite”. See your career perhaps from a number of views or perceptual lenses, for example, from the organisation, your line manager or perhaps a co-worker. This reflective method may offer you the chance to explore many different vantage points to consider strengths and development areas that may have been in a blind spot to you.
- Expressive Method of Writing - Try writing about your personal topics, doing justice to the emotional context, whilst exploring how events make you feel. Perhaps a technique where a stressful thought is investigated through responding to four questions - e.g. “How do you react when you believe....?” to deepen and tease out the depth of the possible feelings. This method can be helpful to focus upon the feelings of redundancy, the elation of that elusive promotion or starting your own business perhaps?
Writing expressively about your career successes and failures can be difficult and sometimes an emotionally charged experience. The positive aspect of this method of career development is that the writing can be private and personal, while helping you to look toward a new career direction.
It may be an opportunity to look into a creative writing course to help focus your attention on how to go about writing your career story constructively. Either way, career narrative coaching is a new and novel way of exploring career transition opportunities.
David Dean, Principle Psychologist, Bright Sparks Coaching