The Power of Story

October 5, 2009

JP Headshot1We all like stories, right? Remember how much we enjoyed a story before bedtime? Not much has changed as we got older.

Trying to describe what we do to someone who asks often strikes fear into many. Those that that have cute, trite descriptions often sound canned and a bit insincere.
Sometimes the best answer is to tell a story.
Rather than “I’m a Six-Sigma project manager specializing in enterprise system implementations”, try giving an example of how a company you worked for directly benefitted from your leadership.
“CBA International reduced their expenses by 15% (or increased employee retention/increased market share or some quantifiable benefit) because the project I led came in on time and under budget (or some other fact you can tell about.) The person listening now knows not only what you do but also has a concrete example, or story, to associate with you. This will more often than not lead to a question like “How did you do that?” Then you can add another 30-90 seconds to elaborate on your story, personalizing it.

What’s happening here is you are not focusing on you. Rather you are talking about the benefit the company or person you worked with realized as a result of your actions. Also, simply giving your job description may not lead to further conversation, but a story of what you did usually will.
What stories might you use in a job search or interview that will help you stand out from the others?