Telling your story

A funny thing happened recently.  I was asked for a recent copy of my CV (that’s resume for our US readers!)

If you are freelance, you probably can’t remember the last time you were asked for your resume.  It’s much more likely that you have been asked for your Linkedin profile, or a link to your online portfolio.  And maybe, a short biography or profile.

In the past, it was drummed into us as young job seekers that to stand out from the crowd, we needed to be brief, to the point and cut out any extraneous information about us as individuals, giving factual information that could be checked with previous employers.

Boy how the world has changed.   Today, a potential client wants to work out whether you are going to get along together.  They will want a quick snapshot of your skills and experience based on your twitter activity, a quick search on Google or your own website or blog.  They’ll need to understand your story, what makes you tick and whether you are going to fit in with the rest of the team, even if you are a short-term hire. They can do all of that without you knowing that they are looking at you.

What’s interesting is that CVs/resumes are all about controlling what you communicate with potential employers or clients and that’s moreorless impossible when so much is shared online.

But that’s an opportunity!  Within reason, you can be yourself.  You can offer your clients a sneak peek at the very essence of you.  The stuff that makes you truly unique.  And with that disclosure, you invite people to trust you, for who you are, not who you think they want you to be.  You invite them into a relationship with you.

Instead of getting into a twist over the length of the resume, or the words that you use, or that stupid personal profile that’s so often full of clichés, it’s better to treat this as your mini-autobiography. Here’s your chance to tell your unique story in compact form. So think about it like this.

Your story is where you set out how you see the world, how you make an impact, how you fit in with everything else.

You set the agenda, and invite potential clients and employers to be part of it.  Can you see how that alters the dynamics?

In theory that sounds easy enough.  But many of us are reticent about blowing our own trumpets.  It feels like self-aggrandisement and self-importance.  So remember to think of this as a story that you’d like to share and that people will identify with, rather than getting caught up in the mechanics of how you say it.  This approach seems to work for many and helps unblock the inner you.

Having collected anecdotes from KindredHQ readers, we’ve distilled these into some tips to help get you inspired.

1. The origins of you

You’ll have a unique blend of experience and skills that you’ve learnt throughout your career unless you’ve just left school or university.  Either way, your life experiences and more important, the things that you’ve learnt are what makes you tick.  Tell the backstory of you and how you arrived at now.

2. What’s your point?

This is really important.  Be clear about your point of view.  Accept that it won’t appeal to everyone, but where it does, it will resonate with far greater impact.  That way you will work with clients that you enjoy working with.

3. Ground it in the familiar

You may have the answer to the meaning of life, but if it all sounds a little pie in the sky, you’ll have difficulty in getting your potential client on board.  So find common ground and show how your ideas support their aspirations too.  It’s a good idea to know that others have bought in too, for example through published articles.

4.  Reveal yourself.

No, we don’t mean those Facebook photos.  We mean what you obsess about.  What you geek out about.  Honestly, it’s way more interesting that you are secretly learning to code in your evenings or that you are a beekeeper than some bland commentary that doesn’t give any insight into your world

With your autobiography in place, you need draw attention to it.   All your social media profiles will need to support that view of the world and show how you engage others in conversation.  If you are still struggling, ask people who have worked with you what they’d say about you.

Good luck!  Tell us your story here or add your point of view to the conversation on Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook.


Who is Alex Butler

Hello, I'm Alex Butler and I founded the KindredHQ community and blog back in 2011 after I re-started a freelance career. I LOVE freelancing and I wouldn't swop the freedom, control and joy of working for myself for anything. But I realised how much I missed the company and energy of other people - of having a team around me. So, I got a few people together one day with our laptops, a jar of coffee and some jelly babies and we sat and worked together one afternoon. We've been doing that every week in London, UK since then! I am still 100% freelance and I like to share the everyday highs and lows of being a freelancer here on the blog.


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