Building Your Career Part 3 - Tell Your Story
29 July 2016
Everyone has a story to tell. Have you asked yourself what yours is?
You might not think that you have one, but you do. This narrative of your life is a powerful thing. If you don’t tell it, then people might assume they know what it is.
Your story is important. It will give:
- people insight into your personality and motivations.
- you something to interpret to help make future decisions.
This type of reflection may help you to be more comfortable with who you are. You will often find meaning in it.
You should tell your story when finding a new job. But when I say this to people, they are often concerned. They believe that this is too personal and are terrified of giving away too much information. Sometimes, there is a fear of being judged for something that has happened in the past. And people don’t like even thinking about their story or talking about themselves!
But there are benefits to be realised - so how should you tell your story?
1. Give away enough information – but not too much. Keep your boundaries. A general rule of thumb with this for me is if you wouldn’t be comfortable telling it to a stranger, don’t include it in your story. As a junior recruiter, a client I worked with would always ask potential hires a very unfair interview question – “What is your biggest secret?”. He rejected those that told him because that was too much information to give away.
2. Keep your message positive. Ok, bad stuff happens to us all. Bad things have happened to me. But when I discuss them in a professional situation, I talk about I turned them round into (eventual) outcomes. This will help a potential employer understand how you will deal with obstacles.
3. Framing is essential. Make sure that what you include in your story is relevant to the job that you are applying for – keep it simple and concrete. There is no point in going off at a tangent. Put yourself in your potential employers shoes and think about what they will look for.
4. Don’t be afraid of using emotion. This is a fundamental part of advertising, and telling your story is your big campaign! Emotion is at the core of who we all are and the decisions that we make. Employers do not want robots, so displaying your feeling will appeal to their feelings.
5. Tell the truth. This goes without saying. When interviewing, people have not been completely honest about what they tell me. It happens a lot and is easy to spot. Do not make it difficult or awkward for you or your potential employer.
6. Be coherent and logical. Make the reasoning behind your decision clear and ensure that the journey that takes place between each of your milestones makes sense. Draw the route and do not be frightened of summarising in a slightly different way if it feels right.
And finally remember – your story doesn’t have to be just a CV. A CV is dull and inorganic at times. It might not be the best medium. It can be photos, graphic, video, music – sometimes, the more exciting it is, the better!
Written By Billy McDiarmid