There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love – once you’ve heard their story.” Mary Lou Kownacki, Author
Storytelling was taught in school. When asked to write stories as second-graders, we remember having to answer the traditional questions: who, what, where, when, why and how. As a tribute to our second-grade teachers, here is an outline of the story I’m about to share with you.
What: Your experiences
Where: This post
Why: To help you share your story with your target audience and employment market
How: Shaping a better career story
Stories are a goldmine of information and often help us to learn about one another. Here is a little story about me that I hope will provide value to you, the job seeker, in crafting a well-polished story that will help garner you the very job you seek.
After graduating university, I had the opportunity to work at a high-end retail sports store. Every Wednesday evening, after store-hours the employer would host a product knowledge (PK) evening where veteran staff would inform newer staff about the features and benefits of merchandise in the store. The owner would host these PK evenings as a way of ensuring his staff was well informed about the product, the customer, and how to sell the product to the customer. The evenings were designed around these pillars:
- Know the products and understand the value of the products
- Understood the wants and needs of each buyer
- Translate the product’s value to the want or need of the buyer
In order to sell any product to a customer we needed to:
- Have an excellent understanding of the needs of the customer
- Identify what was driving their purchase (what motivates them to buy something?)
- Match their needs to the right product
Sounds simple enough, right? You’d be surprised how many times a lack of understanding on either side would prevent a sale from happening. Fast forward 20 years and I can tell you I apply these same business principles today in the work I do as a career professional working with six-figure executives. I help them to:
- Understand their market needs (who is their target market, and what does this target market want/need – known and unknown to the market).
- Value and articulate what skills, talents, and abilities they have to offer their target market.
- Match No. 1 with No. 2 in a meaningful way that is easy to understand.
Before you can tell a great story, you have to understand the pieces of a great story. Below is a simple exercise to help you focus on the value you have to offer employers.
After completing the exercise, review it, and see if you can find a running theme within the words/phrases on the page. Once you have found it, it may fit into a sentence like this:
- “I have been a (teacher, helper, leader, writer, …) all my life.”
- “Throughout my life, I have always, enjoyed (working with my hands, researching projects, writing policy, creating and innovating…).”
When you re-discover the things that bring you joy and are able to put words to them, you will enjoy and gain clarity in the following ways:
- Awareness of self – the foundation of self-confidence (needed when promoting yourself in a job search)
- Understanding of the value you have to offer others
- Attentiveness to resources and connections already available within your network
- Appropriate language and terminology to use for your skills, abilities, talents and strengths
- Ability to articulate your value to others.
Call it serendipity, happenstance or an action plan, this new awareness and understanding will create the momentum you need to move forward in today’s job market. Storytelling, much like other forms of communication, is a practised and learned art.
- Clarify what you have to offer.
- Focus on what the employer needs from you.
- Propose value to the employer by matching your offering to their needs.
This article was written by Maureen McCann and published in “Tell Stories, Get Hired” by Daisy Wright. It is published here with permission.
Related Categories: Career Clarity, Job Search, Resumes & ATS
About The Author
Maureen McCann is an award-winning career coach, master resume writer, and master certified interview, employment, and career strategist whose clients include C-level executives, managers, and professionals in all industries including the Canadian banking, oil and gas, healthcare, IT, and government sectors.