7 Tips to Unfurl Your Executive Career

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Executive Career Realities

Fielding calls and creating correspondence was not my idea of an executive career when I landed my first role out of college. A bachelor’s degree in writing underpinned hope as I dove into my first opportunity as a fledgling writer, soaking up every chance to learn. Or, at least, that would have been the ideal scenario.

The reality was of a 20-something young woman wandering in the career desert without a compass.

Opportunity to prove value engulfed me as I assisted a small publishing company’s goals. But, what I recall is a feeling of rudderless-ness and lack of clarity. My uncertain career path persisted for several years thereafter.

However, during my final two executive career roles my energy buoyed and vision sharpened. In each of these positions, where I served senior and executive management, I began to gain career traction. It was here I discovered a knack for blending executive gravitas with writing, business communications and public relations. I also honed project management acumen.

It was here I began to blossom, the wings of a writer and entrepreneur unfurling and taking flight on a faintly visible, but energizing path.

And when, a few years later, the opportunity to pilot my own executive career business arose, I rallied the learnings I’d gained to launch my start-up, weaving in writing as the integral day-to-day thread.

My decades-long business ownership adventure is peppered with both passion and struggle, hope and discouragement, highs and lows.

However, through it all, I rarely ever considered jumping ship. A master of bootstrapping, I also became a master of resume writing through years of executive resume storytelling practice and credentialing. By developing and enabling strengths in career story writing, I realized a hidden passion.

Subsequent, industry-related skill sets materialized, including abilities in blogging, leading to numerous professional writing opportunities. This sustainable channel of business has provided both financial and intellectual fulfillment and an avenue in which to express myself creatively.

Interacting and building relationships with dozens of industry colleagues, many of whom I now consider close friends, has been foundational in weathering the severest of storms. Moreover, I have hired executive coaches to gain perspective and clarity throughout various career chapters, further buoying my resiliency and growth.

Throughout the past 21 years, I’ve multiply reinvented myself, my business brand and my persona.

I instinctively realized that repositioning and revamping one’s value proposition is integral to growth. As well, pursuing continuing education, advancing my position within the market and cultivating differentiating strengths have been crucial to being consistently relevant.

As a result of this multifaceted journey, I offer several takeaways that careerists at all levels may find valuable.

For new-grads, early careerists and any careerist in the midst of radical change and new beginnings or simply wishing to unfurl your career to its fullest, consider these 7 tips:

7 Tips to Spur Career Growth and Fulfillment

  1. You may initially feel rudderless and unfocused, despite your fondness for marketing, your degree in finance or your decades-long experience in technology. This is okay. New career beginnings rarely are clearly mapped out, as much as we’d like them to be. I knew I loved to write, but I was uncertain in which venues I would earn a living as a writer. Exploring different jobs in different organizations helped to unearth my unique strengths and to clarify my focus.
  2. Even the most meticulously drafted career paths are disrupted by unplanned detours. These detours are gifts, allowing you to mine your best strengths, most natural culture fits and personal passions. If I hadn’t allowed career detours to guide my growth, business strengths that equip my writing would have remained dormant; e.g., strengths and interest in project management, business communications and executive partnership building. I would not have connected with areas of passion that have elevated my performance and sharpened my focus.
  3. “Passion is a consequence of effort, not just the cause,” says Adam Grant in his powerful podcast on this topic, The Perils of Following Your Career Passion. (Thank you so much to Joe Jacobi for recommending I listen.) I totally agree. If I’d built a career path based only on my early-in-life passions, I would be chasing a dream to become a popular magazine writer. And, while writing for magazines is admirable (I’ve since been published in several, such as Fast Company and Entrepreneur), it does not consume my passions.
  4. Over time, my passions have unfolded. Or, as Grant suggests, I “developed my passion versus following it.” Similarly, whether you are just starting out in your career or are deeper into the journey, consider how your passions may emerge as you cultivate them. Passions, in and of themselves, are not always the best beacon toward which to guide your career ship.
  5. Continual growth and evolvement matters. Whether it’s embracing a new job or reinventing your current position, you must always be advancing your knowledge, skills and abilities. By continually transforming, with respect to the fluctuating needs and wants of the marketplace, you maintain relevancy. In the beginning, I knew little about resume writing, evolving from a rookie resume writer to a certified professional resume writer and eventually into a certified master-level resume strategist. It took time, practice, hard work and continual rebranding to achieve this level of expertise and a reputation for results. You can do the same. Maintaining relevance not only elevates marketplace value, but also is crucial to nourishing your career soul and passions.
  6. Surround yourself with like-minded others. Immerse in the waters where colleagues, advocates and friends swim. Gravitate toward those who meaningfully believe in you, even when you are doubting yourself, helping you sustain through the rough waters. Interact with other serious-minded professionals and executives on social networking channels such as LinkedIn and freely share their insights, as often as you do your own. This will not only open your mind to new ideas but also prove you listen to others versus only broadcasting your value. Which brings me to the final tip …
  7. Meaningfully and consistently articulate your value. While some in your immediate sphere may be aware of your personal and business brand, there are others who have never heard your name. Being visibly present with an easy-to-access and pithy career story matters when advancing your career. Create career buoyancy by fortifying with colorful stories to attract the right-fit next opportunities. Research the optimal way to do this, ensuring your content is both outcome focused and emotionally grabbing. If you are uncomfortable writing your own stories, engage a business and/or executive resume writer with the strategic training and writing chops to tackle the nuances of your unique career.

Dip your toes in the water with my low-cost starter kit. Email me for more information at jacqui@careertrend.net.

I am one of only 50 master resume writers and have crafted more than 1,500 career stories that put “your value into words.” My bachelor’s degree in writing/journalism allows me to apply a journalist’s eye to your career.

Image Credit: Unsplash, Camilla Frederiksen