Are you telling your best story?September 2022
People love to tell stories. They especially love to tell stories about, well, themselves. Makes sense. We are, after all, experts on our lives and have all of the source material within our noggin. This is good news for people looking for a job — as long as you’re telling the best story about yourself, that is.
Molecular biologist John Medina offers insight into why some candidates are chosen over others in his book, “Brain Rules.” The key: emotion. As Medina has stated, “The brain remembers the emotional component of an experience better than any other aspect.”
Harvard Business Review put it this way:
“Recruiters may think they make decisions based purely on logic, but their feelings play just as large of a role. It’s human nature. Emotions drive how connected we feel to other people, and those connections lead us to perceive someone in either a positive or negative light. The quickest way to land on the ‘positive’ side of that equation is simple: Tell a good story on your resume, in your cover letter, and during your interview. With the right narrative, you can make anyone you want feel great — about you.”
Here are four tips for telling the right story about yourself and getting noticed:
Keep your audience in mind: Yes, the story is about you. But it’s more about getting the audience — the hirer, in this case — to become captivated and interested in what makes you tick and how you will fit in at the office. The Harvard Business Review suggests doing some research so you know what’s important to them. Check out their LinkedIn profile, visit the company website, read a corporate report, and/or chat with mutual contacts to get a good feel of what the recruiters are looking for so you know what to include in your story.
“And remember, recruiters are looking for more than a list of skills and experiences. They want to hire a candidate who possesses both the technical skills the position requires and soft skills — also known as people skills: authenticity, strong communication, mindfulness, inclusivity, and the ability to bring new perspectives to a team. Resist the temptation to pepper your resume and cover letters with jargony keywords, and instead, be thoughtful about the words you use to convey your voice and tone.”
In other words, show them you’re a real human and not a cookie-cutter applicant.
Have a theme and promote it: Your theme or “big idea,” as some call it, should center around things you’ve done that will translate to this new company. You can show them how you’ve grown your social media presence, how you’ve turned ideas into a successful blog or website, that your marketing concepts helped expand a department’s output by a certain amount, and so forth. If you’re lacking job experience, you certainly have experience elsewhere: internships, school projects, your personal life if relative. This can help influence the recruiter’s memories of you.
Context counts: This is the “why” that pushes the narrative forward. The context gives people a reason to hear the whole story and to see how it ends. Don’t make the common mistake of leading with the resolution. Show them why you did something and made it work, don’t just tell them that it happened. Your cover letter and interview, however, it’s your chance to expand, let your personality shine, and set yourself apart from all the other candidates. You do this through context. Whether you’re just starting or have years of experience, context is typically established through three things: setting, characters and conflict.
Be the hero: End your story with the resolution after impressing with the details about the way. You’ve given people a reason to care what happened and to be invested in the outcome, so now show them how it all came together. Don’t be intimidated by this process. We’re all storytellers. Just keep yours focused on what matters to the position you’re applying for and, if you’ve done your research, to the recruiters and hirers. Help them make their jobs easier by letting them know why they should hire you.
Thanks for reading this, and please let us know if you need help with the storytelling process. Until next month, remember this quote from Medina: “Dopamine greatly aids memory and information processing. It creates a sticky note that reads, ‘Remember this.’”