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How to Tell Your Compelling Career Story

How to Tell Your Compelling Career Story

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By Kristen Carter, M.Ed., GCDF 
Contributor, Career Services

I love telling a good story. What I love more than telling a good story is getting a positive reaction from my listener. Knowing my audience is captivated by my story causes me to become more excited, which typically involves a change in my volume and hand gestures.

Stories are a part of everyday life. We share narratives with our coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends on a daily basis. So, what’s any different than sharing your career story? You are the author of your story, and you must convey enthusiasm surrounding each of your career moves, whether this is on your resume, in an interview or at a networking event.

Keep in mind that a hiring manager is hearing your story for the first time, so you must weave together your accomplishments, skills, and experiences so he or she is aware of how you ended up where you are. Do not assume a hiring manager can piece together your career progression by reading a few lines on a resume. Implement these five easy tips to capture your audience’s attention.

  1. Go beyond the facts. No one wants to listen to you spout off your day-to-day responsibilities. Showcase your accomplishments. It’s easy to be modest, but don’t downplay your contributions. Tell your story about the change you implemented, the projects you spearheaded or the processes you launched.
  2. Use details. Details make all the difference in a good story. Incorporating metrics will help you paint a detailed story.
  3. Demonstrate how your story benefits them. Your narrative must showcase how the skills you carried out in your previous roles fit the needs of your listener.
  4. Don’t exaggerate. While it’s easy to exaggerate when sharing a quick story with friends, you will want to steer clear of embellishing on your skill set or career accomplishments.
  5. Practice makes perfect. Crafting a message requires preparation. Rehearse your story and tweak it for the various audiences you want to share it with.

Now, some stories are not as easy to convey on a resume, but are worth telling in a cover letter or in an interview.

  • Did you start as an intern or in an entry-level role and get promoted after 6 months due to your excellent work ethic/contributions?
  • Was a job role created for your unique skill set?
  • Were you working full-time while also pursuing your degree as a full-time student?

Remember, anyone can tell a story. But only you can share your story. And a good story can ultimately lead to a job offer.

[Related article: You Have to Tell Your Career Story Fast]

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