- Stories establish trust. Trust has grown into a significant issue in recruitment. High-profile job-seekers who’ve been caught lying on their resumes are just one reason employers are reluctant to trust job-seekers. In 2004, outplacement firm Christian & Timbers researched the resumes of 500 corporate executives, and discovered 23 percent of executives lied about their accomplishments. Job-seekers can gain an employer’s trust by integrating story into a resume, cover letter, or in an interview. As Simmons writes:
Before you attempt to influence anyone, you need to establish enough trust to successfully deliver your message. — People want to decide these things for themselves — the best you can do is tell them a story that simulates an experience of your trustworthiness. Hearing your story is as close as they can get to first-hand experience of watching you “walk the walk” as opposed to the “talk the talk””¦ You need to tell a story that demonstrates you are the kind of person people can trust.
- Stories establish an emotional connection between storyteller and listener and inspire the listener’s investment in the storyteller’s success. When stories convey moving content and are told with feeling, the listener feels an emotional bond with the storyteller. Often the listener can empathize or relate the story to an aspect of his or her own life. That bond instantly enables the listener to invest emotionally in your success.
The Information Age and the era of knowledge workers may seem cutting edge, but in his popular book, A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink asserts that society has moved beyond that mindset and into the Conceptual Age in which we are “creators and empathizers,” “pattern recognizers,” and “meaning makers.” Story is an important tool in this age because it enables us to “encapsulate, contextualize, and emotionalize.” Pink refers to story as “context enriched by emotion” and tells us that “story is high touch because stories almost always pack an emotional punch.”
- Stories help you stand out. Consider that many job-seekers or co-workers vying for the same position you seek probably have qualifications that are similar to yours. But will they be describing those qualifications to employers in evocative story form? Probably not. If you do, you’ll distinguish yourself from those who seek to sell themselves to employers in less engaging ways.