Are you a good storyteller?
It’s actually quite a useful skill for furthering your career.
This quote by sales authority Jeffrey Gitomer puts the reason why in a nutshell:
“Facts & figures are forgotten, stories are retold.”
While the numbers from your accomplishments are impressive (and necessary to demonstrate that you can get things done), they aren’t necessarily all that exciting. What is exciting, however, is the story behind the accomplishment. What did you do to get from point A to point B? What obstacles did you overcome? What did you learn? How has this experience made you better at what you do?
Getting at how your achievements came to happen and why your particular skills set was necessary for bringing them about shows the value you possess and allows folks to get a sneak peek at what you could do for them — if they are smart enough to hire you.
This can come into play in a few different places during your job hunt:
On your cover letter. This is a great place to put one or two short stories. Interspersed among the required components such as the name of the position you are applying for, who referred you (if applicable), your contact information, and an indication of interest in the job, you can make your cover letter pop with one or two well-crafted stories that specifically target the needs that were outlined in the position description. Brevity is key, however — a multi-page cover letter typically is not received well.
On your résumé. You don’t need to simply list that you saved the company X dollars or you increased your students’ performance on a standardized test by Y points. Either under each position you have held or as a stand-alone section on your résumé, you can have stories and accomplishments listed together. This is a particularly effective technique to showcase your talents if you don’t have as much experience in your field due to the fact that you are a younger job seeker or you changed careers only a few years ago.
In an interview. You want to engage your interviewers — what better way to do this than to paint a vivid picture of your successes? Conversations in real time call for stories. Identify anecdotes that provide good examples to interview questions that you are likely to be asked, such as how you go the extra mile in your work. Again, you want to keep it brief, so go over what you are going to say in order to keep out details that don’t add anything to the conversation.
At a networking event. Opportunities present themselves anywhere at any time. You want to be sure that you are prepared with a few good stories in the event that you meet someone who works at a company you’ve been dying to break into (or is closely linked to someone at said company).
As with any any strategy you are implementing on your job hunt, moderation is key. Be sure that how you can be of service to the company is what receives the majority of your attention, even with the stories you tell.
Bottom line: numbers, in and of themselves, won’t make decision-makers remember you. The story you attach to those numbers will.
What career stories do you have to tell?
Image: my children listening to a storyteller at Bookworm Gardens in Sheboygan, WI
Does this article resonate with you? Let’s work together for you and your career!