Identifying Characteristics to Highlight in Your Stories
Once you’re familiar with these basic accomplishments-driven job-search story structures, the next step is determine what characteristics you wish to showcase about yourself in your stories. The answer is to tell stories that demonstrate the skills, abilities, values, and knowledge that employers seek in the type of job and industry you’re targeting.
- Identify a dozen or so help-wanted ads or Internet job postings that typify the kind of job you seek.
- List keywords that describe the skills and characteristics required for these jobs. See the end of this chapter for a list of skills and characteristics that employers typically seek.
- Now, highlight all the skills and characteristics keywords the ads or job postings have in common and make a list of these frequently appearing skills/characteristics.
- For each skill/characteristic listed, compose a story that illustrates how you have successfully demonstrated that skill or characteristic in your career “ or even in your personal life.
- Be sure to compose stories that come from a variety of aspects of your life and career; don’t focus on just one job or extracurricular activity, for example. Draw your stories from fairly recent experience. Employers what to know what you’ve done lately that could benefit their organization.
Keeping in mind that a successful story must be true and told in context, consider these ideas for story-framing (with originators in parentheses) so your collection of stories comes from various perspectives:
- A time in your life when this skill/characteristic was tested. (Annette Simmons)
- A person/event in your life that taught you the importance of this skill/characteristic. (Annette Simmons)
- A time when you failed to live up to this skill/characteristic and decided never to let it happen again. (Annette Simmons)
- A movie/story/book/event that exemplifies this skill/characteristic for you. (Annette Simmons)
- A turning point in your development of this skill/characteristic. (Annette Simmons)
- A story about tasks and job functions related to this skill/characteristic.
- A timeline of how you developed and sharpened this skill/characteristic.
- An example from your personal life (as opposed to career) of deploying this skill/characteristic.
- Patterns that have emerged in your development of this skill/characteristic.
- Results you’ve achieved through using this skill/characteristic.
- Lessons you’ve learned while developing and using this skill/characteristic.
- Ways you’ve applied this skill/characteristic in diverse situations.
- A strength or vulnerability from your past that led to developing this skill/characteristic. (Stephen Denning)