Friday, February 22, 2013

Job Seekers: What’s your STORY? - Part I

 By Mary Salvino, Career Coach

When hiring managers are looking to fill a position, they go through a series of steps to find the best candidate to fill the position.  The search for the best candidate begins with a well-written job description that attracts large numbers suitable candidates that will then be culled according to a pre-determined set of skills and abilities.  Once the pool of candidates has been reduced to a manageable size, the top candidates will be invited for an interview. 

If you are one of those candidates who have been invited to participate in the interview process, you can assume that all of the other candidates who will be participating in the interview phase of the competition are just as qualified to fill the position as you.  Now, your challenge becomes how to demonstrate that you are a ‘better’ cultural fit for the company. 

One of the many ways that you can demonstrate that you are a better cultural fit than the candidates is through the effective use of storytelling.

A ‘story’ is a powerful medium for sharing and/or interpreting experiences.  A story can be a very effective tool in the interview process insofar as it gives listeners the opportunity to become engaged to the both the story and the storyteller. Well-presented stories help the storyteller express thoughts in a manner that is easily received by those who are listening to the story, i.e. hiring managers.  Good stories are universal insofar as they bridge cultural, linguistic and age-related divides; they will draw listeners in and force them to feel and connect to the storyteller. 

Good stories have a beginning, middle, and an end.  Noteworthy stories are persuasive and they ‘program’ listeners to accept what comes next and ultimately ‘bond/connect’ the listener to both the story and the storyteller.   A ‘story’ is:
Short – Brief and to the point
Thoughtful – Allows time for reflection; lesson learned
Organized – Has a beginning, middle and end
Relatable – Demonstrates how the experience relates to the job
Yarn* – By definition, a series of events ‘spun’ to create emotional connections between the storyteller and the listener

Stories under-gird information the storyteller wants to share and once the storyteller has mastered the art, that skill can then be used to help influence others.  In the case of looking for a new job, telling a good story can be the glue that helps the candidate stick out in the minds of hiring managers long after the interview has taken place. 

 “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

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