Developing a well-thought out professional narrative to market yourself to employers is essential to an effective career search, particularly for students with advanced degrees who wish to leverage these additional academic experiences to their full potential. It will establish the picture of you that potential employers take away from your resume and interviews. It is important to devote time to thinking about about the full range of your skills and experiences and how you would like to present them to employers. After all, if you don’t have a clear idea of your professional value, it will be difficult to convince employers. Developing a convincing story of your strengths and interests allows you to take control!
The narrative that you develop will be reflected in your application materials and interviews. A well-crafted resume can highlight your broad set of skills and interests obtained through a variety of experiences beyond courses and internships, including extracurricular experiences, volunteering, and even hobbies. Also, be sure to consider your audience when telling your story. Using technical and discipline-specific vocabulary is unlikely to be appropriate for everyone, especially once you start to look at opportunities outside of academia. Communicating complex material to diverse audiences is a key skill that is universally valued, so use this opportunity to showcase your abilities!
A strong professional narrative will address the following questions:
What Relevant Skills Do You Bring?
Think carefully about all skills that you have developed both in and out of the classroom. These include not only the technical skills and knowledge specific to your academic work but also an array of skills, often called “transferable skills,” that may be equally, if not more important to employers. By highlighting your full range of skills in a broader context, you will be able to communicate your value to employers with clarity and confidence. Review various types of transferable skill categories here, and take advantage of the many opportunities at Yale to develop these skills. Additionally, conducting informational interviews with alumni, peers, and professionals can absolutely help you identify your own skills and best translate them to the career you are pursuing.
Why Are You Interested in this Career? Crafting Your Story
Explain what motivates your career interest in terms of your interests and skills, and refer to your experiences to demonstrate your ongoing or developing interest in a given industry or role. For graduate students, the more successfully that you can link your academic pursuits to this new career, the more appealing of a candidate you will be.
Questions that are likely to crop up include: “Tell me about yourself”, “Explain your interest in ___”, and various others that attempt to showcase a thematic constant in terms of who you are. Dedicate the time to construct a confident and clear narrative that conveys your motivation and genuine interest in making this transition to potential employers. Your story will be unique to you and will reflect your skills, interests, and preferences for different aspects of work life. As part of your story, you should draw upon your past experiences to explain your ongoing and developing interests in certain roles or industries to potential employers. Since many firms consider “demonstrated interest” to be important to their hiring decision, consider investing in activities while at Yale in order to explore and gain experience in industries, careers, or functional areas that you might ultimately be interested in. Click here for some ideas on how to get experience while at Yale.
Once you have a better grasp on your own exhibited skills through your past experiences, as well as a firm understanding of the interests that drove you to this career path, you can begin to plug in the pieces in crafting your (career) story! This story is the most essential element of your marketing plan. You can use our Telling Your Story worksheets to help workshop this story, while continuing to embark on informational interviews. Once established, this story will be the primary way that you get to connect yourself and your prior experiences to the job you are seeking!