What is it that makes a CV, application or interview performance stand out and have real impact? It could be the story.
Telling stories is a powerful way to communicate. It allows the author to reveal something unique about themselves; evokes emotion and is something other people can relate to. Story telling is an ancient tradition and is still popular today.
Applied to job hunting, the story is often the magic that links together what the employer wants with what the candidate has done to date, bringing them together with interesting and distinctive examples.
Try storytelling for yourself
Are there any threads running through your life which will strike a chord with an employer?
- For example, have you taken apart electronic equipment from an early age, built your own PC, and set up a network for your housemates? Even if your degree is geography rather than computer science, many IT consultancy firms would find your background very interesting.
Can you illustrate your skills with examples beyond your degree?
- A few degree-based examples are fine, but everyone else on your course could give the same examples.
In your work or social life, what have you done which had a specific end result? Was it quantifiable?
- For example, “I raised £600 for charity as a team of 5 by organising an end-of-term ball, negotiating £200 of sponsorship from a local pizza take-away”.
Have you had any unusual or distinctive jobs, or had to take on extra responsibility?
- Have you spent a summer working in a completely new environment, either location or type of workplace?
- Working in a family business, such as a local take-away or on a farm, could give you real commercial awareness and resourcefulness from an early age.
- A summer picking fruit at local fruit farm could turn into a short-term business as a supplier to all your friends and family.
What has been your proudest achievement within a job so far?
- For example, you might have worked in a call-centre, but what about the call you took where you had to deal with a crisis – which got you an “employee of the month” award?
Why do you want to be a [lion tamer?]
- What has been your journey of discovery as to why you are interested in doing a particular job or pursuing a particular dream? Who have you encountered along the way to inspire you and shape your thoughts?
How have your international experiences shaped you?
- Whether you are an international student or have spent time abroad, stories of your global experiences and cultural encounters can provide an interesting illustration of your ability to see others’ perspectives on life.
What makes a good story?
- It is simple and concise, told from your own perspective
- It has meaning for you and is told with confidence and enthusiasm
- It includes a dilemma or experience that the audience can relate to and that captures their interest
- It often has an element of uniqueness or strangeness about it
- It finishes well – with a happy ending, a learning point or with hope for the future
The Art and Power of Storytelling in Workplace Communitiest Put together by The National Managers’ Community (Canada), this resource takes a closer look at our love of storytelling.
By Amanda Conway