by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Want to push your job-search techniques to a higher level — even if only passively looking for a new job? Use the power of storytelling to frame your accomplishments, sharpen your career brand, enhance your LinkedIn profile, enrich your resume, refine your networking, and improve your job-interview responses.
Developing a powerful — and uniform — narrative that interweaves throughout all your job-search tools will help you produce a consistent and compelling message to prospective employers.
Why is story so powerful? Because people remember stories. We don’t remember a series of facts or accomplishments, but when they are included in a story, we remember the core of the story — the theme of the story.
Your main goal, then, is to decide on the theme of your story. Your theme should come from your accomplishments, so start your storytelling process there. Develop a list of your major career accomplishments — and find the main theme, the main narrative of your story. Your theme will be unique to your experiences, but here are some examples:
- The revenue-enhancer
- The cost-saver
- The brilliant strategist
- The inspiring leader
- The team player
- The consistent performer
How Story Can Enhance Your Job-Hunting
We have hammered this point in other articles on our site, but the KEY starting point for building a successful job-search starts with fully understanding and articulating your accomplishments. Accomplishments vary by job, of course, and can range from something as simple as having a 100 percent safety record to masterminding the turnaround of a floundering organization.
Your first step is identifying your accomplishments. Use our Accomplishments Worksheet.
Your second step is turning these accomplishments into compelling stories. Read: 3 Steps to Storytelling Success in Your Job Search. Then, see some examples in this article about accomplishment stories. For additional help with accomplishments, go to our Career-Job-Work Accomplishments Resources for Enhancing Next Job Search, Promotion.
What can you offer a prospective employer? That’s your career brand. Your career brand is a promise of quality/expertise that you deliverb — and will deliver to a prospective employer. Your career brand should help set you apart from other job-seekers.
Your first step is to learn more about career branding. Use this article: Career Branding Basics: What, How, Why. A Primer for Job-Seekers.
Your second step is developing a story that encompasses your career brand. Learn more in this article: What’s Your Career Brand Story?
Not all job-seekers need a LinkedIn account, but certainly all professionals should have one. LinkedIn has become a powerful job-seeker tool for uncovering information, building a network of contacts, and for learning of job opportunities. Many recruiters use LinkedIn as a tool for scouting potential.
Your first step is learning more about why you should not only develop a LinkedIn profile, but why you should immerse yourself into your LinkedIn profile. Start with this article: 5 Tips for Using LinkedIn During Your Job Search.
Your second step is developing a compelling narrative for your LinkedIn profile. Learn more in this article: Seven Steps to Tell Your Personal Brand Story on LinkedIn.
As your most important job-search tool, your resume has to share a consistent narrative with your other job-hunting tools while telling a story compelling enough to convince a hiring manager to schedule an interview with you.
Your first step: If you need help starting or revising your resume, start here with our large collection of Resume Resources and Tools for Job-Seekers, including our article, How to Write a Great Resume: A Short Guide for Job-Seekers.
Story plays several roles with networking — from having a memorable story that network contacts can use to recommend you for jobs to having an engaging Elevator Speech Story for when meeting new networking contacts.
Your first step, especially if new to networking, is to review the power of networking in job-search. Start with one or more of these career networking articles.
Your second step is incorporating story into your networking activities. Read: Tell Your Story: For Job, Promotion, Business Success.
Job-interview responses need to engage the listener, relate to the question asked, make an emotional connection, and be memorable. Facts and statistics are quickly forgotten. Developing short accomplishment stories — and other stories in response to typical interview questions — will not only help you be better prepared for your next job interview, but also make it easier for the interviewer to know, understand, and remember your career brand and major accomplishments.
Your first step is maximizing your understanding of the interview process and developing a list of commonly asked interview questions. Find these interview questions — and much more — in our Guide to Job Interviewing Resources and Tools.
Your second step involves incorporating your brand narrative into the stories you develop for your interview responses. Remember, while you do not want to memorize your interview responses, you DO want to have a story you can pull from your memory to use when responding to interview questions. Read: Creating Interview Stories.
Final Thoughts on How Storytelling Strengthens Your Job-Search
The human brain — since the beginning of time — has been hard-wired for stories and storytelling. Families pass important family history from one generation to another in the form of story. Story awakens something in our brains and emotions, and the job-seekers who use stories to showcase their career brand and accomplishments create strong connections with their listeners — and are the job-seekers who are remembered.
Finally, remember the basics of good career storytelling. Your stories should be short — a minute or two — and have a beginning, middle, and end. Each story must be engaging, with an emphasis on the result you achieved, the accomplishment you attained. Don’t get bogged down in details; if the interviewer has been hooked, s/he will ask follow-up questions that allow you to provide all the relevant information.
For more information, see also these sections of Quintessential Careers:
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
This article is part of Job Action Day 2014.