Modern career advice says you need a good career story. It makes sense, if stories make the most vital connection between people, then, of course, we want to use stories to grow our careers. But how can you tell if you have a good career story?

To me, you have a good career story when:

  • You know what makes you awesome
  • You can communicate that awesome to others succinctly 
  • You know which stories to tell people based on their needs
  • Your actions on (and usually off) the job match the skills you bring up in your stories
  • and when you’re not around, the way people talk about you matches the narrative you put out there

Let’s walk through each of these and you can assess where you rate each one. 


1. You know what makes you awesome. 

This is an easy one, to begin with, to assess if your career story is good. Do you know what makes you awesome? 

Do you know what makes you awesome in comparison to anyone else who has the same degree, work experience, or job title as you? What is it about your unique combination of skills and experiences that makes you awesome? 

If you can name the three things (sometimes there are four) quickly — you have one part of a good career story. You also have a career brand.  If you were to ask me what makes me awesome I would say, 


“In a nutshell, creativity, building awesome programs, and empathy. I quickly connect the previously unconnectable to see what makes someone awesome and then I create customized programs to help them share their awesome with the world. And, my empathy — I understand why it’s hard to do and I make sure the supports I offer are right for them.” 


If you don’t know what makes you awesome or you are still using your job title to define your awesome, you’ll want to discover your awesome first. It’s the foundation of your whole career brand. 

Here are some ways to discover your awesome

My book — the first exercise in my book shows you exactly how to discover your top three awesome skills

7 days to Career Clarity Online class — this class guides you on how to find your core story over seven days

My TEDx talk – introduces you to the method I used to find my awesome. 

Your self-reflection: 

Ask yourself: “Do I know without a doubt, deep in my bones what makes me awesome?” 

2. You can communicate that awesome to others succinctly 

So, knowing your own career story is great. But being able to share it matters, especially in a clear way. Now, I know and you know that you are more than your top three skills. But, in a story, especially a story being heard for the first time, people only latch onto a few details. You want to make those details latchable by being concise and clear. 

Later, when people are wooed by your clear story, you can start adding finesse. 

This does not need to be an elevator speech or anything formal, but you should be able to say what you do in a memorable way. It will not be memorable for everyone. But, it will be memorable for the right people. 

If someone is an automobile sound engineer, not that many people know about that. But, if they were to say, “I’m an automotive sound engineer, interested in how new technology changes a driving experience, and I’m a nerd about code when I’m not at work,” to someone looking for an innovative sound engineer, they stand out from every other sound engineer. 

Here are five examples of different ways you can build yours. 


Five ways to introduce yourself as a podcast guest (with examples)


Your self-reflection: 

Ask yourself: “Can I communicate my awesome in two lines?” 


3. You know which stories to tell people based on their needs

A good career story is more than knowing your skills and how to express it succinctly — it’s about being able to share the right story at the right time with the right people. 

To have this, you need to be able to know how your skills help other people or companies, Then, you want to think of a story that demonstrates that. The three places you will need this will be:

  1. In your sales copy: this could be your resume, LinkedIn, blog, or the product page
  2. At an interview or sales call: like a job interview or a discovery call with a potential client
  3. In-person: at a networking event or even the weekly meeting at your office 


This does not need to take that much time and usually, you don’t need more than five stories. But you do want to think about questions people will ask (or have asked) or what kinds of things they need to know, but haven’t asked about. 

Make some lists and story prompt: 

To come up with story prompts, make a list of five things that people would commonly ask or hire you for. For example, I know that for career contentment training people are commonly concerned with these five things:

  1.  If they can meditate because they tried in the past and it was hard
  2. If mindfulness training will be effective in their job — usually because they took an in-house meditation course at work and there was no integration
  3. What are quick things to start with so they can build momentum
  4. If mindfulness can truly help them feel better, even when they hate their job
  5. Can mindfulness help them show up better as a storyteller, or improve their professional presence

Once I had my five common questions, I thought of stories to help answer the question. I have stories for each of these concerns, sometimes one story hits 2-3 of these points. By knowing what commonly comes up, and an exact example of working with that concern, I keep my career story intact. 

I do the same exercise when I think of five things I wished people would ask. I make blog posts and videos about those. 

A good career story is not just a brand, it’s action. So, the stories you tell when interacting with people need to match the original career brand and skills. They’re all connected. When your story examples and posts match the narrative you created, your story starts to become clearer for others. 

Your self-reflection: 

Do I know which stories help people see how I can help them?

4. Your actions on (and usually off) the job match the skills you bring up in your stories

I know, I just said this, but it’s worth making a whole point about. 

A story is not just words.  A story is actions. 

If you say you are the best in the world, we want proof. 

If your career brand and stories are all about how you are compassionate and a deep thinker, then live the story of being compassionate and a deep thinker. That means not being one thing online or on your resume, and something else at your job. 

This is why it is a good idea to base your career brand on your actual skills, they won’t be hard to model. It is when you decide you want to be known as something that is true to you, that it is harder to pull off a story. 

This is where mindfulness training is useful. Mindfulness trains in you many useful skills, but two specific skills are self-understanding and performance. You can systematically build up skills where you understand why your actions do not match your intentions and then work to befriend and untangle those tendencies. At the same time, you can work to detect where your performance could improve, and systematically get even better at your work. Knowing yourself at a surface thought level is just the beginning. I believe that mindfulness is the most important career development tool out there. 

If you want training in the same mindfulness programs they study at Harvard and Carnegie Mellon, but tailored to help your career, check out SET ONE. 

Your self-reflection: 

Ask yourself: “Do my actions match my narrative?” 


5. You’re not the only one sharing your career story

The last part of a good career story is that you’re not the only one sharing it.  Ideally, when people talk about you in your absence, they say the same things you say about yourself. They found something interesting, memorable, or inspiring in your story, and bring your name up. They’re spreading the story for you. 

This one is hard to control, but if you do the four things above to have a good career story, this naturally happens. It happens at a different scale for everyone. A creative director who wants to work for a small firm only needs three other people to be sharing their stories. If you want to be a best-selling author you’ll need a lot more. 

I told this story in my book, but I once had a client who thought he had a strong network, but when he fact-checked it, he did not. He knew a lot of people, but they were not saying complimentary things about him. He went back to the fourth point to change how he was showing up in meetings. He joined a not-for-profit board and in 18 months, he changes his reputation. He noticed that he was treated differently when people first met him based on what they had heard about him. 

You can have the best LinkedIn profile and business write-up in the world, but if other people are not saying things that match your story,  it is not strong enough. Go back to the fourth point and see if there is an opportunity to improve the way you model your awesomeness. 

Your self-reflection: 

Ask yourself: “Is anyone talking about me? What are they saying?” If you notice that no one is dropping your name, either in your workplace or online, make sure your actions match the story you are sharing.  


The biggest mistake in launching a career story

The biggest mistake I see people make when they hear about using stories to help their career is they think story structure and rules are more important than modelling the story. Telling the most gorgeously crafted story about your work will not matter if you can’t back it up and there’s nothing beyond that story. 

Story science and understanding narrative structures can make your story better technically. Like, how adding an inciting incident can make your story better.

Improve Your Career Story With an Inciting Incident

But the ones that move people to hire you, need heart, action, and sharable.