Telling Compelling Stories

Regardless of where you are in your career – looking to achieve the next level, from tactician to strategic decision maker; or as a senior professional trying to show that you can provide value to an organization – you need to tell a story that demonstrates your value.

If you’re relying on old stories, you won’t be successful in achieving your goal. If you’re a technical professional that wants to rise to management, and you are telling stories of your technical expertise, you’re not showing how you can exercise leadership. If you’re a senior level professional that relies on stories that emphasize 15 to 20 years experience, you’re telling potential employers that you’re too old, too experienced, too expensive.

Your story needs to convey your value. Stories that speak to responsibilities don’t show accomplishments; stories that begin with 20 plus years experience, don’t demonstrate current value.

So how does one tell a story that conveys value? This is one of the most difficult challenges for people seeking new positions. What we do well, we do intuitively. We don’t think about it. We come into a situation, size up the challenge and act. While we’re often relying on past experience in our actions, we’re also influencing outcomes, that is, creating value.

Your story needs to show how you have influenced positive outcomes; how you’ve improved the situation. This is not reflected in technical competence or in past responsibilities. It’s reflected in accomplishments.

Tell your story in a way that can be heard by the potential employer.

First, it needs to be relevant to their situation. If you’re telling a story that’s not relevant, you’re not conveying value.

Second, your story needs to be concise. Briefly outline the challenge; describe your actions to resolve the challenge and conclude with results – the impacts of your actions. Sometimes, these results are expressed quantitatively – revenues generated, cost savings, increased sales. Other times they’re qualitative results. Regardless, make sure you convey their significance.

So can you tell stories that reveal accomplishments; that show how you’ve influenced positive outcomes; that demonstrate value? Can you tell them briefly and succinctly?

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