7 Simple Storytelling Tips for Career Success
by Leah Curney, on Feb 20, 2019 6:56:09 PM
Storytelling supports success in all aspects of the job market – from writing dynamic resumes and acing your interviews to crafting cover letters that stand out from the crowd.
Today more than ever, storytelling plays a pivotal role in how we distinguish ourselves and make our mark in the world. In fact, social media “Stories” are rapidly growing in popularity, with more than 1 billion users hooked on the format. Since online communications are an increasingly prominent part of our personal and professional lives, the ability to tell a powerful story that cuts through the noise (whether six pages or six seconds) has never been more important. As Shane Snow, bestselling author and co-founder of Contently, points out on LinkedIn, “Those who tell the stories rule the world.”
At Story2, we get this. We designed the Moments Method® so everyone has access to tools for telling a great story. And we're happy to share what we know with you!
To leverage the power of Moments Method® storytelling in your job applications, internships, fellowships, and more, use these seven simple tips to set you up for career success:
1. Clear the Clutter.
We live in a fast-paced world that provides almost constant sensory input. So, before you sit down to write a cover letter or send out a resume, take a quiet moment just for you: REFRESH. Clear your mind of doubts and criticisms. Let go of what happened yesterday or concerns about tomorrow. Invite them to leave the room.
Taking these few seconds to refresh yourself is scientifically proven to unleash your creativity!
2. Build a Bridge.
A key component of the Story2 Moments Method® is building a bridge between your past experience and your future success. Use specific moments, not general summaries, from your history to demonstrate what an asset you would be to a particular company or organization. And if your previous experience doesn’t quite match the job qualifications, don’t worry! You can still create valuable connections between what you have done and what the new situation requires. For example: “My financial experience includes managing my sorority’s $500,000 budget and running 15 profitable social events.”
3. Know Your Audience.
When entering the job market, it’s important to do thorough research; get to know the company you are applying to and the person you’ll be meeting with before sending them anything. When you make it to the interview stage, ask what is important to them and explain how you will help the company and your supervisor achieve their goals. How do you know their goals? Research. Look at their website, LinkedIn, social media, and articles discussing the company. Dig deep. This way, when you are in the interview you will be able to be specific and create a clear connection between your skills and how they will benefit the company in ways they value.
4. Be Honest and Authentic.
The best story you can tell is one based in truth: your own personal truth. Outlining what you are honestly good at will be much more successful than pretending you are something that you are not. It’s easier too! As Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Also, don’t be afraid to speak or write in your own unique voice. As we teach in the Story2 Moments Method®, overly formal or generic language and writerly flourishes put distance between you and your reader. Using your own authentic voice and unique perspective, however, creates the kind of human-to-human connection that produces successful outcomes. Tell the story only you can tell.
5. Make Connections through Moments.
Which is more compelling – a vague overview of your history, or a specific, vividly-described moment that brings your experience to life? In your cover letters and interviews, use moments that show how you will succeed on the job. For example, “I trained and led 25 trainers each year in Rutgers’ Outdoor Action Program.” How was your leadership tested in that real-world experience? What is one moment that demonstrates how you can be counted on to show initiative and take the lead?
6. Make sure your details are S.M.A.R.T.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific Measurable Actions with Results over Time and is an acronym used to create effective, achievable goals. It’s also a great way to show prospective employers how you will help them achieve their goals. Remember, the person hiring you is responsible for results, so be sure that your resume includes not only what you did, but the positive outcomes you produced. Note the difference between, “I did a lot of computer support for my department” and “I cataloged an entire medieval manuscript and critical apparatus and created a website in XML to make it accessible to others.”
7. Write Out Loud as Only You Can!
On a planet of 7.5 billion people, there is only one you. You have unique, one-of-a-kind stories to tell, so whether you are writing an email or an essay, prepping for a presentation or an important interview, let each interaction be a unique performance, starring YOU. Combine the research you’ve done with specific moments from your past experience to create professional connections that are powerful, enduring, and uniquely your own.