Storytelling for Career Success
How changing the narratives you tell yourself can help you take control of your professional path
One of the key lessons I learned is that nearly all of us underestimate the control we have over our careers. At times, nearly everyone feels stuck in the middle—even CEOs, who perceive they must answer to investors, their board, regulators, the media, and others in the face of employees pushing back and often not performing as expected.
I’d like to suggest that the first step towards taking greater control of your future is to pay more attention to the stories you tell yourself.
In case you are wondering, “What stories?,” let’s start at the beginning.
You have a stream of stories running through your head, and they reveal your beliefs, perceptions, self-perceptions, and biases. Some of these stories are so ingrained that you don’t even realize they exist, and you won’t notice them unless you take the time to step away from daily distractions and look inside your own mind.
For example, you may profess to be both confident and capable, while deep inside you may think you are good, but not as good as your rival for that next big promotion. Or maybe you believe that your boss consistently seeks to undermine you.
The idea is that you pick a prompt and run with it, unleashing your imagination for a few moments, or longer. Our goal isn’t to convince you to be positive or confident or imaginative or creative, although those are all possible results. Instead, we simply want you to experiment a bit and gain some insight regarding what’s spinning around in your head.
Possibility, itself, is a value.
Is it among your values to tell yourself stories that bring out your best, and that do the same for others? Or do you all but ignore the programming that runs in your head, not really paying attention to whether it discourages you, frustrates others, or generally causes you to miss opportunities?
The possibility of achievement, success, abundance, and improvement surrounds you, but none of these may be obvious. In fact, many may be disguised as “problems” or “intractable roadblocks.”
I can’t prove this—yet—but my perception is that the people who accomplish the most are consistently telling themselves stories rich with positive possibilities. When times get tough and obstacles loom large, their instinct is to pump up the volume on these stories until they surmount the challenges that confront them.
Two professionals, armed with similar skills and faced with similar challenges, can produce dramatically different results. Many argue this is the product of different levels of effort or grit. But if you peer beneath the surface, I suspect you’ll discover that the stories you tell yourself largely determine whether you have grit, tenacity, or the power to persevere.
Stories have power, and nowhere do they have greater power than when you play them inside your head. Choose wisely.
And its proven Job-Seeker Story telling that really work
Job-seekers need to know how to develop stories about skills, abilities, expertise, personal traits and characteristics, values, and accomplishments. Stories of various lengths and containing varying amounts of detail for each element of your job search
- RESUME : Short bullet-point version for your resume. Because a resume needs to attract attention quickly, it’s a good idea to tell each story so that the result comes first
- COVER LETTER: More detailed paragraph version for your cover letters. If you are highlighting the same accomplishment in both documents, vary your language and the way you frame the story:
- INTERVIEW : Add more detailed version, composed in a conversational style, for job interviews
There are three components that make up a good career story — regardless of the story you’re trying to tell to your hiring manager .
Characters. Every story features at least one character, and this character will be the key to relating your audience back to the story. This component is the bridge between you, the storyteller, and your iring manager. What ever you have mentioned in your resume in short bullet points, you should highligh the same accomplismnet to frame your story
Conflict. The conflict is the lesson of how the character overcomes a challenge. Conflict in your story elicits emotions and connects with your hiring manager through relatable experiences. When telling career story, the power lies in what you’re conveying.
Resolution. Every good story has a closing. Your career story’s resolution should wrap up the story, provide context around the characters and conflict(s), and leave your hiring manager with a call-to-action.