Storytelling As A Successful Strategy in Your Job Search

We all know that in a job search you need to get the decision-maker’s attention.  You just can’t blend into the group of all the others who are looking for work.  You need to stand above the maddening crowd and provide the impression that you are just the right candidate for the opening.  Karen Siwak, a blogger at Resume Confidential believes the best way to get noticed is to tell your unique story.  Your life experiences are different from others and by relaying them in your networking and interviews, you will indeed standout and hopefully get the nod.

Karen believes that “good marketing is good storytelling.  And a job search is all about good marketing.  But if you wait for the interview to tell your stories, you may be missing an important opportunity to distinguish yourself from the crowd.  Stories, when told in the right way, to the right audience, can be a terrific resume differentiator, the key to standing out in a pool of qualified candidates.”

The one of many advantages an experienced job seeker has over his youthful competition is that they have lived life and they have numerous stories to tell.  Of course they don’t want to come off as grandpa rocking on the front porch (interesting illustration isn’t it?) but they do however want to impress those who are making decisions on their future employment that they have been around the block more than once and they can describe in detail what they have learned from their successes and failures. 

The new employer will not have to invest in any on-the-job training because though the new hire may not have any experience with the employer’s particular company, they certainly can take their experiences to their new place of employment and produce results almost immediately.  In this economy where every successful company/association needs to be in front of the change curve rather than reacting to conditions, bringing on board a more experienced staffer may not be the worst idea an employer has ever had.

Though it is difficult to be as descriptive as you would like in a page or two resume, it is important that you present results in bullet points.  I know there is no I in team but this is not the time to be modest.  Be truthful and take as much credit and responsibility as the truth will allow.  Don’t embellish and certainly don’t lie since untruths will eventually come back to destroy your credibility but make sure that you present all your succeses in short and profound bullets of positive results.

Where much story telling can take place is in your Cover Letter and the verbiage you use in your e-mails.  Because a Cover Letter provides more opportunity to show your true colors it is suggested that you take the opportunity to provide a life experience that might be relevant to the potential employer.  A success story that can get the attention of the decision-maker will certainly get you beyond phase one of the search.  A well written and descriptive Cover Letter and e-mail will make you stand out and above the rest of those candidates and may force the search committee to think twice before advancing someone else and not you.

We have all been at receptions and business meetings where one person blends into the other.  There was no differentiation amongst those who spent time with you.  For those who get a response of a hundred or so resumes for one posted job, it is our responsibility to make their job easier and move our resume to the top of the pile.  Giving a story that is appropriate and relevant to the employer is certainly one way to achieve success.

If you are applying for a position with a food or wine company/association make sure you tell the story about the time you met Julia Child and/or Robert Mondavi and how that happenstance changed your life and provided you a reason to succeed.  Talk about how you built the bottom-line from nothing to something and when you departed you left the company/association in a much better condition than you originally found it.  Of course any story you tell must be true and must be relevant to the search committee.  In this case it was true for me and I would be more than happy to provide greater detail over a glass of wine someday.

Your brand is unique to you and an important element of your marketing plan.  Make sure you are using all your talents to get that job.  It doesn’t matter if you are not the most creative of writers in the world.  You are describing yourself and your achievements.  No one can do a better job of that than you.  Use it to your benefit and who knows, it might be just the right tonic for success.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words and 65 blogs on the topics of job search and career transition.  He can be contacted at:

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