By Herminia Ibarra and Kent Lineback | Harvard Business Review
At a recent networking event, senior managers who’d been downsized out of high-paying corporate jobs took turns telling what they had done before and what they were looking for next. Person after person stood up and recounted a laundry list of credentials and jobs, in chronological order. Many felt compelled to begin with their first job, some even with their place of birth. The accounting was meticulous.
Most people spent their allotted two minutes (and lost the attention of those around them) before they even reached the punch line—the description of what they were seeking. Those who did leave time to wrap up tended merely to list the four or five (disparate) things they might be interested in pursuing next. In the feedback sessions that followed each round of presentations, these “fact tellers” were hard to help. The people listening couldn’t readily understand how their knowledge and contacts might bear upon the teller’s situation. Even worse, they didn’t feel compelled to try very hard.
In our research and coaching on career reorientation, we’ve witnessed many people struggling to explain what they want to do next and why a change makes sense.