Every few weeks I get the opportunity to attend incredible Lunch ‘N Learns. A speaker comes in for an hour on a random work day to walk us through his or her experiences, wisdom, or cool new project while the rest of us munch on lunch. The sessions are informative, quick, and engaging.
I recently attended a Career Planning Lunch ‘N Learn. A guy, in his I would say late twenties, got up to talk about his experiences, lessons learned, and advice for all of us recent grads. He joined the company I work at just six months prior, so around the same time we all started, but he came in with a few years of experience in every role and industry imaginable. I walked out of that lunch learning how to write Your Growth Story and I wanted to share some of my key-takeaways with you.
So what exactly is Your Growth Story? Think about it like this, we all come from different walks of life—different experiences, different backgrounds, different abilities, etc. but a majority of us start off on the same playing field when we enter the workforce – the same education, the same types of internships, the same leadership roles, etc. How do we differentiate ourselves? Your Growth Story.
Start Your Growth Story: Your Growth Story should be unique to you and your experiences. It shouldn’t be a novel, nor should it be one simple sentence. To start writing Your Growth Story, think of the words you want people to remember you by. For example, if you’re applying to a project management position, you probably want Your Growth Story to be filled with words that describe you as a manager and adjectives that describe successful projects.
Talk About You: For some people this makes them feel really uncomfortable, for others it’s a breeze. Get comfortable talking about yourself but stray away from sounding all about yourself. Develop yourself throughout your growth story. Nobody cares about the experience you had with a poor manager or the stellar success you had with another – talk about you and only you. The details of the other people involved with Your Growth Story should come after with follow-up conversations.
Titles Don’t Matter: Don’t bother mentioning you were the President of XYZ if your responsibilities don’t measure up. Never once in this Lunch ‘N Learn did we hear the guy speaking mention his title. Why? Because it doesn’t matter. What mattered was who reported to him, who he reported to, and what his responsibilities were in each of his roles. He never mentioned if he was climbing up the ladder, but he did talk about what responsibilities made him grow as a professional.
Years of Experience Don’t Matter: This piggy-backs off of why titles don’t matter but guess what, in Your Growth Story, saying you worked in the technology field for 7 years doesn’t matter if you didn’t learn anything. You can be just as smart, talented, and full of experience as the company veteran if you played your cards right and got the most out of all of your experiences. With that said, years of experience doesn’t matter when telling Your Growth Story but don’t ever underestimate the company veteran – he or she has more ins and outs than you can imagine and should be a great network and influence for you.
Your Growth Story will never be complete, and should never feel complete. It’s the constantly changing E-Pitch for the business idea that just keeps improving. It will become very valuable when looking for a new job, starting a new role, or even just networking. Never stop writing it and always be thinking of how Your Growth Story measures up to your full potential.