Career Advice

Use These Storytelling Principles to Land Your Dream Job

Co workers talking together at office space

A good story will make us feel, compel us to act and help make ideas stick. The value and buzzwordy-ness of “Storytelling” is nothing new to the business world. In fact, telling stories is the most fundamental, and oldest, method of communication, dating back thousands of years to the times of cavemen and hieroglyphics!

When carving out a career your love, you can (and should!) use storytelling to help set you apart. If you want to stand out, especially in the crowded employment market, start building and sharing a story that excites prospective employers with these principles:

Focus on Your Resume

While your skills and projects you’ve worked on are obviously important, they are only one piece of the puzzle. They differentiate you, but only to a certain degree. When designing your resume, consider the niche, or specialization that you’d want to highlight, and create your position around that, says Arielle Shnaidman, Brand Story Coach.

Each bullet point on your resume should reflect your niche, contribute to your story and relate back to why you would be successful in the specific job you’re applying to.

Define Your Position

One thing people often overlook is how to be clear on what exactly they do. When building out your narrative, Shnaidman suggests having a clearly defined answer to the following questions:

  1. What you do?
  2. Who you do it for?
  3. What value you provide?

Once you’ve distilled your answers, you can create a clear and concise position statement, that can help guide the creation of your resume/LinkedIn, and focus during conversations and interviews. Create focus on where your niche fits within the market, and have confidence when discussing your own skill set and value!

Get Clear on the Why

Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” has gained lots of attention around the idea that leaders and organizations need to understand their “Why” — their greater purpose — in order to succeed. This frame of thought should also be applied when crafting your personal story and narrative as well.

When writing and speaking to your work experience, you must be able to clearly articulate your exact purpose. Ask yourself “Why am I doing this kind of work?” Once you have your overarching answer, take that even further, and keep asking “Why”, suggests Shnaidman.

For example, I might ask myself:

Q: “Why do I blog for Glassdoor?”

A: “I like educating people on ways to be more successful at work”

I can take that a step further and ask:

Q: “Why do you like educating people about the workplace?”

A: “Well, figuring out your career is a challenge, and I like being able to help people”

Keep digging through each layer of your “Why”, until you get to the true core. If you can have this answer cleared up in your writing and in the interview process, it will help breathe life into your story and narrative.

Quit Trying to Fit the Mold

Rather than forgetting parts of your life and experiences that don’t quite “fit” a certain mold, use these experiences to reframe your narrative, and create the building blocks for your story. “If you’re constantly in the process of trying to be like everyone else, you’ll forget what makes you unique. Rather than drowning in a sea of sameness, lean into your past experiences that have made you who you are!” says Shnaidman.

Remember, “It’s good to be better, but it’s better to be different,” says Sally Hogshead

Show Up Online (Consistently)

You can’t just show up online when it’s time to find a new job. Like networking, showing up online needs to be a continuous practice. You need to always be present, online and offline, to help show people who you are.

Showing up online does not mean you need to stress about pumping out 800-word blog posts every day. Rather, slowly build your presence by sharing articles, thoughts, quotes or anything that resonates with you, says Shnaidman.

When you share stories relating to your work, it shows that you’re a human. For example, you might say something like “Hey! Today we launched a product, and here were the hiccups we experienced, but here were the awesome results!” When you share honest stories relating to your life, it demonstrates your values to people around you. If people can assess what you’re really about beyond just facts on paper, they are more likely to work with you and want you on their team, says Shnaidman. Simple things like sharing an update on LinkedIn, or retweeting an industry thought leader help people connect with you.

The human brain is wired to connect with narratives, so if you want to increase your chances of standing out from the crowd, show up authentically, get clear on your story and watch your success grow!

Stacy is a professional development specialist who helps employees and leaders grow and build new skills through innovative programs. She is passionate about creating opportunities for people to advance in their career while improving their organization’s retention rate and output. She loves sharing insights on workplace development, career building, and networking for success. Stacy also holds an MA in Educational Technology. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or at www.stacypollack.com.