Have you been trying and failing to adapt your bio or resume to the evolving circumstances—and by evolving circumstances I mean the earth-shattering professional uncertainty that has gripped us all over the past year?

If you are reading this, you probably have. And you are not alone, although this might be the only time this knowledge will bring you no comfort. When trying to get your career back on track or shifting it in the direction you always dreamed of in the middle of a pandemic, the thought of thousands of others attempting to do the exact same thing might be disheartening. How will you shine in a crowd of other presumably equally talented and experienced professionals fighting for a spotlight?

Then there’s the question of the ever-growing number of social media channels, communities, forums, and meetups you absolutely have to be on to be relevant. All of which, naturally, demand different communication codes and techniques, a specific tone of voice, flawless understanding of each micro-cosmic zeitgeist, and ideally strong personal branding. Your job, now, is to adapt your brand to all of these new platforms. Are you exhausted yet?

You should do a personal audit if you haven’t already, to set your priorities and play to your strengths. This, however, doesn’t dispense with the overwhelming feeling you get when trying to adapt your personal audit to a multitude of different platforms and communication channels.

Different platforms do require different approaches. While Instagram is all about motivationporn and being “authentic you,” writing a Clubhouse bio demands in-depth topic competence and moderating skills you probably never had. Fake it until you make it, right? This is not how we do things anymore.

You still need a personal audit and you need to keep it updated as your career and your life evolve, but you also need something more stable and reliable: an internal communication manifesto. This personal narrative is the cornerstone content of your own life story. It’s what needs to shine through all your bios, your pitches, your “about me” sections, and even your continually updated personal audits.

This requires self-care and mindfulness. Because you can only change and adapt what is already there. If you’re not crystal clear about who you are and why you matter, you will struggle to adapt it to different formats to the world at large and— more importantly—to your target audience. If they don’t get it, it won’t be memorable. If it isn’t memorable, they will ignore it.

How to create a personal narrative

The primary role of internal communication is to help make your mindset manifest. Your internal communication strategy will make your career story shine if you think through it with care. If you do it poorly, you will stay in your comfort zone.

Here is what to do:

  • Collect your narratives across all social media channels
  • Do some decluttering work and pick up the pieces of your working career and your aspirations, and fashion them into a narrative
  • Cross-post and restream on multiple channels in order to find the right positioning
  • Connect the dots and own it

Declutter your narrative by Marie-Kondo-ing your way back through your social media history and your personal public history and finally getting rid of everything that does not spark joy. Ask yourself:

  • What feels right?
  • What feels like you only put it there to please someone or to attract their attention?
  • Which talents have you not explored or showcased far and wide enough and which, if you’re honest, have you over-sold?
  • Which bits were you hoping potential employers and clients would pick-up, but didn’t?
  • Which expectations felt heavy and uncomfortable?
  • What questions are you tired of answering?

Seems easy enough right? Or maybe it seems incredibly difficult. The fact is, there is no way around it, you have to put in the work. You have to read through your own story, the way you have already told it over and over, and analyze it.

In case you haven’t noticed, the world is on fire right now. You really can’t afford to keep missing opportunities and wasting time doing things you don’t want to do, just waiting for some big chance to sweep you off your feet out of nowhere. You need to own your story now.

Caroline Harth, JD,PhD, is the founder of Harthcommunications and runs her private consultancy at Carolineharth.com.