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Monday, March 07, 2005

Once upon a time...

Turn your life into short narrative tales of achievement -- and no one will dream of filing that job application in the trash

Sometimes, I think I missed my calling -- that I should have been a man born in the Middle Ages. True, the medical care was abysmal and life was a lot shorter, but I would have liked to have been a troubadour, traveling and telling stories. Singing, networking, and gossiping, with free room and board in every town -- what's not to like?

Modern civilization desperately needs stories. You can see it in the way we gather around the TV to watch the most inane tale. Everyone at the watercooler has to know about the kid whose tree house was condemned by the zoning board.

COMPELLING SELL.

We can all tell stories reasonably well -- even spouses who recount the same ones over and over. We don't generally think of storytelling as a workplace activity. But it is. And it's essential. Often, the most successful salespeople are those who can tell a compelling story that resonates with the customer. In internal selling -- pitching an idea or a budget, for instance -- telling a story is likewise critical. A brilliant friend of mine came up with a thank-you present for the sponsors at her organization's industry trade show. She sent each a color photo of its booth signage with happy attendees milling around, plus a page of testimonials her staff had gathered: "I'd never heard of XYZ Industries before but, after visiting its booth, I'm curious to know more!"

REAL-LIFE DRAMA.

The testimonial page for each sponsor also included an anecdote or two -- people asking about the origin of the company's name or commenting that they'd heard it was a great place to work. The obligatory pile of business cards gathered at a show is good, but it doesn't tell a story. My friend's package did. The human need for stories should be a vital clue to job-hunters, whose résumés often have as much dramatic punch as the back of a cereal box. Your résumé is your marketing brochure, folks.It has to tell your story.

What is your story? Some possibilities might be:

• A scientifically inclined student attends Hofstra University, goes on to learn computer programming and create innovative products, then switches to product marketing and leads a groundbreaking campaign.
• A high school track star shows an aptitude for math at Texas A&M, becomes a successful journeyman consultant for Deloitte, realizes he'd rather be working in artificial intelligence, joins two AI startups (one that tanked, one that didn't), and is up for his next opportunity.
• A homecoming queen from Little Rock excels at Dartmouth College, becomes a waitress/ski bum in Aspen, takes her master's in journalism in Colorado, and plays competitive rugby. Her résumé is short, but don't you want to know more?

READ: Multi-Story Résumé, Higher Profile

Comments: Post a Comment

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