Control Your Narrative, Command Your Career

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Here’s an eye-opening statement for many. Nobody understands your career quite as you do.

Well, duh. 

Your career is very personal and isolated to you. So how are others supposed to know that you’re the real deal—and that you’re not another one of those inflated-title, ego-centric clowns? 

Your success, challenges, and skills are generally hidden from others unless you’re an industry titan or savant publicized weekly in Business Insider. Elon, if you’re reading this, please subscribe.  

You are your PR engine. And it’s your responsibility to influence how others perceive you. 

But, My Personal Brand IS LinkedIn 

Unfortunately, your job title, compensation, and the desirable employer you work for will only get you so far—especially if you’re leaning on a LinkedIn profile to tell your whole story and waiting for serendipity to reveal its seductress smile. 

Further, most executives need to be more active on LinkedIn to control their career narrative effectively.

Too often, their profile speaks to a career trajectory that is hard to follow (e.g., not linear) or contains dated information that informs their audience of whom they used to be—not whom they are becoming. Sharing confusing histories creates friction when it comes to others understanding you. 

In other words, your content usually speaks to your past rather than your future. And you probably made less money in the past, so that’s not likely the lasting impression you want to leave. 

The Junior / Middle-Manager Overshare Conundrum

Write too much on LinkedIn, and you appear like a try-hard and risk oversharing in a way that negatively impacts future negotiations. 

Yes, I claim that what you share on LinkedIn and the impression you leave behind will impact how much money you make. 

Does your profile make you appear junior?

In general, I’ve found that those that write too much on LinkedIn are either more junior in their career than they lead on—or they are trying to sell you something (I’ve been guilty of this, too). 

If you depend heavily on sharing your tactical impact, KPIs, and little wins, you speak volumes to your experience level. These folks are laying it on thick, so you have no excuse not to understand their greatness and every impact they’ve ever had. 

You can’t blame them. 

Everyone and their mother is a career coach and LinkedIn guru these days, and they’re telling you to do MORE MORE MORE. Unfortunately, in my experience, this can have a turn-off effect.

Hell, I used to brag about increasing email subscribers by 200%. But, in my defense, I was a marketing manager. But there comes the point when this sort of impact becomes noise and unnecessary friction that we must omit. 

Oversharing is a toxin in today’s culture. Especially on social media.

Side Note: being transparent and approachable is different from oversharing.

Less Is More For Executives

Executives do not need to overshare. 

I’ve found that executives that are worth their salt share little to nothing on their profile and rely on their in-person conversations and network. They leave the perception: “If you know me, then you know me. If you don’t, you wish you could.”

They will only share the most pertinent information live if you want to learn about them. As a result, they control their lasting impression in an environment where they can lead and adapt to contextual clues LIVE. 

There are too many variables to communicate effectively on a one-to-many platform where we battle goldfish attention spans. You can’t be all things to all people—and that’s good news!

So what should you do?

Share less. (At least on your profile). Recognize that your LinkedIn (and resume in most cases) only serve as the tip of the iceberg. Their purpose is to share just enough information to earn a phone call. And not any information that could jeopardize your future ambitions. 

The Wrong Intel Will Hurt, Even If It’s True

Oversharing the wrong intel will bastardize a later negotiation or stop it from ever happening in the first place. 

Consider that what’s impressive to some is not impressive to others. And this can be used against you. 

For example, let’s say you’re an engineering executive that has built a team of 400 engineers for a Fortune 50 company—and you choose to share that you did build and lead a team of 400 engineers publically. 

Seems innocuous enough, right? After all, it’s true.


What if you’re interested in earlier-stage companies? Does your leadership of 400 engineers intimidate a smaller company from approaching you? Does your work for the Fortune 50 alone put you out of their league of trying? 

In our goldfish snap judgment, “Interesting, but I’ll pass to find a better fit to speak with.”

What if you’re interested in more significant opportunities? Does your leadership of 400 engineers make you appear junior if the next role requires leading 800 engineers and a product team? 

In our goldfish snap judgment, “Interesting, but I’ll pass to find a better fit to speak with.”

The specific nuances that you share put boundaries on your career. 

Sharing specifics can be okay if what you want in this instance is to lead another team of about 400 engineers. In other words, if you want more of the same. 

In our goldfish snap judgment, “Hell yes, I’m recruiting an engineering leader for a team of 400, and they lead a team of 400. PERFECTION. I’m the best recruiter of all time.”

This concept also applies to financial negotiation, with which many of you may be more familiar. For example, what are the odds that you say the correct number when someone asks you, “How much money do you want to make?”

Spoiler alert, that question is a trap. Don’t answer that. Call me instead, or read more of the articles in the #negotiation tag on the blog. 

Final Thoughts

Be mindful of the lasting impression you leave when sharing any information with anyone. Information shared in writing, such as on LinkedIn, in your resume, or in an article—is information shared and written in stone. 

Your career is fluid, living, and constantly flexes with your internal personal beliefs, ambitions, and external macroeconomic and market demands. 

Information you can’t change easily is often used against you without your knowledge and the weight you must navigate. 

Work instead to build a flourishing network and bring live conversations with a bend on where your career is heading next. 

With a live meeting, you can adapt your conversations based on 1-1 context and take ownership of the lasting impression you want to leave. 

Plus, you get the added benefit of building a real relationship. In short, consider your LinkedIn and resume as a channel that brings you phone calls. That’s their only purpose. 

The real work begins after you earn the conversation. 

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