Your professional story is made up of a carefully curated set of personal and professional stories you use to tell people about your professional goals and accomplishments. It’s the story of you. A professional story augments your resume or CV. It offers the person who reads your LinkedIn profile or your CV/resume a glimpse of the person behind the titles and qualifications. This is how you stand out from the crowd and get hired faster.
If you’re ready to work on your professional story now, check out the Professional Story Formula, my 7-week online course that will teach you how to find, craft, and tell your professional story.
Let’s look in detail at some of the ways you can use your professional story during the job hunting process to get hired faster.
A networking experience doesn’t have to be a dry experience centered around looking for a business connection. In fact, in the long run you’re better off making a personal connection with people you meet and those connections are formed by finding shared values, perspectives, and experiences.
When you use your professional story at a networking event, you don’t go armed with a pitch. Instead, you carry with you your story library, a curated set of personal and professional stories you’ve chosen to tell. With those options, you can pick and choose which story to tell when the opportunity arises.
Perhaps you tell a travel story that includes the fact that you’re a quick language learner or a great problem solver. Maybe you talk about an experience you had at work that touched your heart and demonstrates your ability to communicate well with your colleagues or others.
The particular advantage of working with a professional story is that you won’t have to bend the conversation to your purposes so you can deliver a pitch. Instead, you can go with the flow and work with the topics and questions that may arise. Who knows, maybe you’ll find out they’re looking to hire someone just like you!
Social Media: LinkedIn
These days, it’s important to have a LinkedIn headline that grabs readers’ attention and gives them an idea of both what you can do and what kind of person you are. That’s a lot to accomplish in 120 characters.
If you’ve worked on your professional story, though, you’ll have articulated an audacious goal that will stop readers in their tracks. I’ve worked with people who developed goals like, “I want the Dutch train system to run 100% on time” or “I want to make sure cancer treatment is not more painful than the disease.”
These are attention-getting goals and along with some material from your stories, perhaps a previous experience or a future plan about how you will accomplish your goal, you’ve got 120 characters that tell the reader right away whether you’re a good match for them or not.
When you take this approach for your headline, then the reader can check your profile to see how your experience lines up with your mission. In other words, you grab their attention first and show them your qualifications second. You put yourself out in front of your certifications.
Resumes or CVs and cover letters work the other way around. Organizations that are hiring will look at the CV or resume first and only read the cover letters if applicants meet the minimum requirements. In that situation, your cover letter is where you show them the kind of person you are.
Write a cover letter assuming that you are one of a pool of applicants who are equally well-qualified for the job. Tell your future employer what makes you a wonderful person to spend 8 hours a day with.
If you’ve prepared your professional story, you have already selected a number of stories that are not included in your resume or CV that demonstrate that you have the skills and experiences that will make you an excellent hire.
Think of volunteer or travel or personal experiences that demonstrate your soft skills like communication or problem-solving. You can use the cover letter to demonstrate that you have additional skills that your resume or CV may not cover. You can use it to show them what your values are and how you practice those values in your life.
Interviews are intimidating. You sit in a room or on a video chat with people you don’t know very well and you all try to figure out whether or not you’d enjoy working together for the foreseeable future.
You can walk into that conversation armed with well-practiced answers to typical interview questions or you can walk into the room with a story library, a set of stories that you have chosen because they show your skills, experiences, and values.
When you tell stories instead of answering questions with set answers, you give your interviewer many opportunities to connect with you on a personal level. Maybe they also have a brother or sister or children. Perhaps they went on vacation to the same place. Maybe they had a flat tire recently as well.
Whatever your story is, by using it as a framework for answering the question, you give the interviewer more insight to you and the kind of person you are. Assuming that everyone who they interview is more or less equally qualified, the key is to hire someone who they’ll enjoy working with.
Your Professional Story Helps You Get Hired Faster
Working on your professional story is the key to getting hired faster. You’ll have the right stories to tell and a clearer idea of what you want to do and how to articulate it.
Professional story work is transformative work because it isn’t just about how you present yourself, it’s about taking a close look at your own goals and dreams and then figuring out what you want to tell people about who you are, where you’ve come from, and where you’re going.
Stories are constructions. You create the narratives using the raw material of all the things you have done in your life. Working on your professional story will leave you with a story that you are proud to tell and eager to share.
Are you ready to work on your professional story and get hired faster? Join my free 60-minute online masterclass: The 4 Fundamental Truths About Professional Stories on Thursday, 15 October 2020 at 20:00 CET (Amsterdam Time). Registration is open now.