Transcript #4: Part 2- Developing your personal narrativeling at job interviews

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Renata Bernarde:

Hi, I'm Renata Bernarde and this is The Job Hunting Podcast. In this podcast, I help you meet your next job and have the career that you want. This is my intent and this is what we're going to do today. If this is the type of content for you, you're currently on the market looking for a new job or you're a cane to get a new job, let's say early next year, trying to get yourself organized for it, make sure you subscribe by clicking on the subscribe button of course. , and this is available on iTunes and hopefully in other places as well. If I have mastered the art of uploading a podcast, we're still in the single digit. So there are three of the earlier podcasts that you can listen to. So, find them, have a look because this is part two of a personal narrative, a conversation that we're having.
Be nice for you to find where part one is, you can connect me with me everywhere. I am on Facebook, Instagram, and I have a website. The website URL will be on the episode notes. So check it out. There's a nice document there that you can download. I give 10 tips and I really, really love that document. I put a lot of thought into it. I hope you like it too.
So let's jump into it. Oh, by the way, I am on LinkedIn as well and you can definitely connect with me on LinkedIn. What I have decided is that we're not going to have career discussions about your career on LinkedIn because you probably don't want that. But you can definitely DM me, send me a message and connect with me on LinkedIn. However, most of my career and job hunting conversations will be held on Facebook groups and through this podcast.
Right. Okay. So this episode, personal narrative, part two, I will have to finish what I started in part one. It went on for too long and I had to stop. And what we were talking about is on how to develop your personal narrative that's actually your personal brand. I just didn't want to call it personal brand because I know many people hate the idea of personal brand. Am I making this up? I hope not. I think when I do say personal brand, my clients roll their eyes, so I decided to call it personal narrative and I think it's a much better word anyway. You'll see why in a minute. You know, I use research that is about narrative, discourse and philosophy and the way that we communicate things to each other. And then I weave into the branding conversation at some point. So, you don't have to listen to part one actually.
The podcasts are there kind of self-sufficient, isolated topics on personal narrative. But it'll be good for me personally and hopefully for you if you go back and listen to part one as well, but you don't have to listen to that one to understand this one. That's what I'm trying to say. Okeydokey. But in part one, just very quickly, we're not going to go into detail. I'm just going to mention that I spoke a lot about Roland Barthes and how I discovered Roland Barthes who's a philosopher and social scientist, I think you can call him that, and that was through A Lover's Discourse, which was a play. I went and saw it three times and bought the book, read the book. And I mentioned the paragraph of that play that often comes to my mind when people ask me to write about myself or to about themselves.
And they cringe, you know, be it a bio or a LinkedIn profile or a resume. So, Barthes’ horror on writing about oneself is my own. Just realized the microphone is a bit far away from my mouth. I'm moving it. Hopefully I don't have to say all those things again and you could hear me fine before. So this great paragraph is in the episode notes, podcast number three, have a look at that. I want my clients to learn to be and to feel comfortable in situations where they need to speak and write about themselves. I never complained about reviewing and editing their resumes because quite frankly, time is of essence when one is job hunting. And sometimes we just don't have the time to go through the learning process. Just keep that in mind because it is so much easier to write and critique someone else's work.
And if that's how you are wired and that's how most people are, find someone you trust and someone who has great skills, good English and proofreading skills to help you. And there are lots of people out there. I have a couple of friends that I count on. I have at times ask people to help me write it. Shout out to Karrie who has many years ago done my resume, and Denise, Andrea, Leonie, lots of friends, Paola, all the great people in my life who have amazing English. You can tell I have an accent. If you'd go to my LinkedIn, you figure out where I'm from, and so English is my second language and I've been in Australia for 19 years. I've lived in the US but still, you know, I really like to make sure that everything is absolutely perfect.
So, make an effort to find someone that can review your resume for you. You have to put the effort however, to write that resume yourself. You did down, you have all the answers and you most certainly have all the knowledge about your experience, skills and strengths. You know there is nothing harder than writing a resume from scratch for somebody else. You really need to put the effort to do the first draft at least to help whoever you hired or whoever you've asked to review it for you. How can you write and speak comfortably about yourself in a way that enhances your personal brand? Well, the answer for me, my opinion is also with Roland Barthes. Let's go back to Barthes. It's easy because he is actually known for his expertise in writing expression and communication. He studied discourse and narrative, which is how we communicate in speech and writing.
And he came up with five different ways. Stories are told. I will leave a link in the episode notes for you to read about the five different times, but I will focus on only two in this discussion because we're not trying to learn narrative, we're trying to get a job and so focusing on two is much easier. First because the one I think we use the most diffuses the focus on ourselves and ends up hurting our career progress, at least in my view. The other is the one I usually ask my clients to move into if I feel that they are not using it. And it is very comfortable to use. It's not bragging about yourself and I hope you will find it easy to transition to as well. I'm confident it will have a very positive effect in your career.
So, what is it that people do that I have said is ineffective in building their personal narrative? I do believe people are most comfortable communicating in what Roland Barthes call hermeneutics. It's a big fancy word. You don't need to remember it. But here's what it means. It's the way in which we communicate by delivering breadcrumbs clues that we hope people will follow to make a decision about it. So examples about hermeneutics in literature are the Bible. It's all written in clues and you have to read, reflect, and, and put those glues together. It's the same with poetry, most poetry, so also most recently, let me give you something a bit more modern, not that poetry or the Bible isn't by just so that you know that it's not kind of ancient history here. Most recently, if you play that type of video game where you have to find out the clues that lead to other clues and it's all cryptic and very difficult to understand, that's hermeneutics, right?
So, for example, in your work, what does that mean? If someone asks how your project is going, let's say you're a project manager and you answer something along the lines of “well, you know, it is what it is. The report made its way to the board. The presentation was done last Monday” and you are kind of answering it not really finalizing your sentences and not really amplifying the words and the meanings of what you're trying to do. You may want people to read into that, that you were confident. You may want people to think that you do these things all the time and you're not really worried about it, that the project is done and dusted, that the project is important because it went to the board. It's material enough to be presented to the board. And you may want the person to read into that you are a good confident project manager. Well, let me tell you, they won't read into it. And when you miss out on a promotion and you think, but I always delivered my projects on time and I did them excellently and the board were always happy with the results, accepted the results. This may all be true, but it may not have been communicated well enough to the people that make decisions about promotions. And those are the people that are asking you, so how is your project going? You have to be ready for those moments.
Who was it that told me just yesterday? Oh yes, Mo, my new friend, Mo said something to me yesterday that I thought was absolute gold. He said his dad was in the army and he went to two wars, but he said “I went to only two Wars, but I'm always ready for battle.” And I think that that's exactly the type of sentiment you have to have in your career. When you hear a question about your project, you answer something that includes your performance that may lead you to bigger and better opportunities. Remember to deliver a mindful answer. So what would that look like? There is another way of telling a story that is way more compelling, right? Without it being a brag fest. That's kind of the line that people don't know how to cross. everybody. We're not educated that way. We're educated to think about the others, to think about the community, to work in a team effort or tribal way. So it's something we need to work on.
There is a different way of telling a story that Barthes has called semantics, which I really like for personal narrative and personal branding. And it's when words, visual cues, your body language, the entire scene carries meaning and adds to the story. You don't have to spell out what you mean. It oozes out of you and people just know. So an example, it has nothing to do with work, that I love is the Bridgit Jones movie and the scene, it's quite famous and it's actually a meme. Bridgit and her boyfriend have broken up. I think that’s what happened, and she is on the couch in her pyjamas drinking. I think she's also smoking, drinking, smoking, watching TV in listening and singing to “All by myself”, by some Celine Dion. And you just know that she's super sad, that she's heartbroken. She doesn't have to say it. She doesn't say “I'm sad my boyfriend and I broke up”. But you just know. You just know every bit of that scene amplifies that message. Everything has been intentionally put together to make you feel sorry for Bridgit Jones. It's an iconic scene and everybody knows it. So if you haven't seen it, I'll put a link to it below on the episode notes.
So how can you use that idea of semantics to build your personal brand? Well, think about the whole composition about what you want to portray professionally to others. Let's say you want to be the best project manager at areas. Someone asks you how your project is going. You lit up, you are energized, you answer mindfully. Remember, you don't need to spell out every detail. Don't go into that rabbit hole, because people are not that interested. They just want to make casual conversation with you. Remember, Bridgit didn't tell us the audience that she was sad. And in a minute you knew that just by watching the whole thing. So that's what you're trying to do, but it needs to be something important to that person. They need to empathize with you and relate to what you're trying to do. Pick something within your project that is relatable to the person that has the question. So if they are from HR, you say it has been great, a great opportunity for you to lead a team and you really enjoyed it. Maybe it was the first time that you were coordinating and leading a team. Invite them into the experience by offering to present to them. Ask them if they want to know more about the project. If they have a staff meeting weekly or fortnightly, you can come and talk about it for five minutes. It may help her team or their team. Something along the lines along the lines of it's been great working with this team. We met all the delivery KPIs, et cetera.
And look, I'm not, I'm not telling you to be positive all the time. Quite the opposite. If things have not gone to plan, it's important to convey that. But this is the deal, right? Think glass half full. First of all, don't be a total negative person about it. That's the worst thing that you can do for your career is always complain about things. We can have another episode about that. But what have been the challenges? Explain what you know and what can be said to a colleague or a publicly, and then tell them about the solutions that you or the team implemented or things that are under consideration to resolve it. Right? Because people who get promoted are people who find solutions to problems, are people who manage expectations, deal with adversity and complexity and who are excited to take on challenging projects: “it hasn't been all rosy. These are the big challenges that we're facing now. And we're working on implementing a few solutions we came up with. I offered a few ideas and the team is putting them together. We're sorting it out. “
I hope you can think of better examples for your field. But you know, using that idea of moving away from delivering cryptic, breadcrumb like information and moving into a narrative that every bit of you and the way that you're conveying the message in what you're saying is amplifying and reinforcing the message that you want to send professionally, right?
Send me a DM or a message or an email if you want to share an idea about this, or a story. I'd love to hear from you.
Before I end, I need to say a few words about getting results. I was thinking about this as I was saying a few things just now. So here it is: personal narrative or branding is built over time. Think about the concept of natural selection. Repeat a strategy consistently over time and look back at what you were doing. Review it, do a self-assessment on what has been successful, what worked well and what didn't work well. And then, adapt and try again. You will never be completely resolved, as you are constantly evolving your brand but you will try a few things and you will feel more comfortable with certain ways of communicating, I want you to focus on your strengths and build that over time and if you're mindful about it, you will pay attention to it and it will be an easier task for you. McKinsey put together a list of questions on how to trust your instincts and I will try to find it and add to the episode notes but basically it's experimenting and self-assessing, adapting when you notice something is working well and evolving in your own personal narrative so that you are in a winning situation.
That's why I mentioned natural selection before. I hope that makes sense. I may need to do another episode on this. I am really obsessed with the idea of personal best and how to find it within yourself. Trust your findings and your instincts, but doing this in a scientific way, I think you can call that. I think we can say there is a bit of science in my crazy methods. So there you go.
What else can I say before we go? On the episode notes, you will find a link to the document I created. I mentioned that at the beginning. It's my top 10 tips for making job hunting less stressful and more successful. I really enjoyed putting it together. Once I decided to write it, it just pulled out of me, it was great. And on the first page I explained why I wrote it and was a really nice and important thing for me to do personally. Later on, I kept thinking of more and more tips and I think I have a few more, which I can convey in another document because I have a lot of things to say. Thus, the podcast!
That's all for now, Folks! Remember to subscribe, share with others, and check the episode notes, which will have links and additional content on the topic of this podcast, and links to my website where you can connect with me and sign up to the newsletter, et cetera, and et cetera. Okay. See you next time. Bye.


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