The Power of Story in the Resume and Job Interview


Last week I took a class at Waterloo Wellington Community Futures. I take a lot of business development / professional development courses at this fabulous small business help centre. And located in Elora, Ontario. a delightfully charming town, it's doubly the pleasure as I can sneak in some shopping.

Last week's class was on how to speak about one's business not in a dry, technical (and oh-so-boring) way, but in a way that will engage a listener. I learned a great deal. And I could see the benefits of the approach to the job hunter.

Here's the kernel of what I learned: identify a story that epitomizes what you do, and use this story to create intrigue and interest.

For me, it's not about outlining to you what a strategic resume is and isn't, with technical details like grammar, content and context, and so on. It's about sharing an example of how it has worked. Here's one of the stories I crafted as an in-class assignment.

A few months ago, it was the beginning of the summer as I recall, I worked with a fellow, a Senior Vice President who had spent most of his career in the brewery sector. His original resume still held a "Career Objective," which is pretty much passe these days, and his "Professional Experience" was composed in long, dense paragraph form. And I mean long - one position was almost an entire page.

To put this issue in perspective, I recently had a CFO client engage me to condense his resume after a recruiter had one look at long, dense text and declined to review him as a candidate. Absolutly true!

Back to the beer guy. I recreated his resume, modernizing the appearance, categorizing the information, introducing snappy bullets, and just making it far more readable. And off he went to conduct his job hunt.

Last week he sent me a message on LinkedIn. "Oh, by the way," he wrote, "I landed my dream job. I am now leading the largest brewery in the Carribbean."

I live vicariously through my clients!

(I need to share that he gave me permission to use that much detail, as I usually don't.)

And that story, so much more interesting than a technical explanation of "what" I do, demonstrates what belongs in every job hunters' toolbox: stories. Stories about every one of the skills you use in your work and how it has impacted colleagues, clients, decision-making, productivity, performance, and profits.

I challenge each of you to use this approach. And if you need help, New Leaf Resumes is at your service.