By Marie Zimenoff
Career Thought Leaders & Resume Writing Academy
Everyone remembers a story more than they remember facts. Imaging studies show us that storytelling activates more areas of the brain than facts alone. Stories help us identify with the person, make the parallels, get in their shoes, and most importantly, feel that emotion. You can use stories to market your career services and help your clients weave their stories into the interview. Their story can also be included in their resume and LinkedIn profiles where people want to connect. Stories build that connection.
You have probably used Challenge, Action, Result (CAR) or Situation, Task, Action, Result (STAR) stories with clients. The structure for the story helps them tell the story in a memorable way. Here are four different types of stories that can deepen the connections made in marketing or career communications.
The first type of the story is about how someone discovered their purpose or what they wanted to do. Sometimes they discover where they came into the position in that specific job. There might be an origin story for how they got into their work or what was going on when they started at that job. When did you discover your path? What got you started in this type of work or to focus on working with the type of clients you work with? How did you become fascinated with the type of work you do?
What was going on when you started that role? Even if your client would say, “It’s just an administrative job.” Ask them what was going on. What was the context? Context creates the story. Usually, there is some juiciness here because there is some mess to clean up when we start a new job.
The second type of story is Draw — the passion, the motivation, or what draws that person. This is the WHY. Why do they do what they do now? Every person has why. Job seekers at all levels have some connection to what they do, although their “why” might come in several different forms. It could be why they started in that role, why they are in that industry, or why they stay. Their connection to the specific type of work cannot be too self-serving (i.e., “I wanted to work close to my house”). We use this story in cover letters to connect to the company. We can find the passion story to add to the context, add to the story and show us who they are and why they are so passionate about what they do.
DifferentiateThe third type of story differentiates us from other people that do the same types of work we do. These are the stories that we are the most comfortable telling because we are used to telling them. However, to truly differentiate and connect with our reader, we have to discover and connect with the painful emotion righted by the actions in the story.
Make sure you communicate the pain. What is it that makes a client call you? What are those pains that they are feeling? What are the challenges? For a job seeker, what keeps that hiring manager up at night? What happens if the person in that role doesn’t perform? Get a few words, just a hint of this emotion, into the resume to differentiate yourself and your clients with the emotion tied into the story. Tying into the pain shows that you know what is going on right now in the industry. As a resume writer, it helps you overcome the challenge of knowing any specific industry. Prospects might say, “I want someone that knows my industry,” but you can demonstrate that a resume writer's expertise is asking the right questions to uncover the pain and tell the story with context and emotion.
You know the right questions to ask to uncover pain points and share examples of when the candidate came as close as possible to solving that same pain point. As a resume or LinkedIn profile writer, you know how to craft the story to connect with the reader’s pain, show the candidate’s triumph, and align the lesson with the value it will bring for hiring managers. You dip into emotion to connect to employer fears while maintaining a positive, professional voice appropriate for career communication.
The fourth type of story activates the reader. How do you drive someone to action? Creating action starts with a clear focus. Who is your audience? We do not want someone reading the About on our website and saying, “Oh, that's great.” We want them to do something. These stories connect the dots between who we are and what we do, and why someone would call us. We want these stories in our marketing and in our career communications for clients.In the resume, your client might say they hit 100% of their quota every quarter. It is specific and quantifiable, but it cannot tell who that person is, and it does not bring up any real emotion because there was no challenge.
What are the employer’s pains and your client's best points to show that they can meet those pains? They do not all have to speak to one pain point, but to speak to those most common pain points and powerfully hit them over and over again. When we do that, it becomes evident that this is the person we need to hire. They have done it before, achieved the results, and understand the problems. Here they are showing those results over and over again.
Call to Action
The other piece of the drive is a call to action. We want to have a call to action in every single post that we make as career services providers. If you are posting on LinkedIn, writing a blog, or writing the bio on your website, you need a call to action. That call to action does not have to be pushy! This is one of the mistakes people make because they think every call to action has to be pushy, so they do not do it. The call to action outlines the next step. At the end of every profile, include a call to action. If they are leaders, the call to action might be, “We're hiring. Join my team.” If you are a fellow cycling fishing aficionado, it might be, “I'd love to connect and talk bike parts.” Think about what makes sense for your client in any situation.
Even job seekers who are currently employed can use this type of call to action and put their contact information at the end of their LinkedIn profile About section. People reading it now have their contact information even if they are not going to click and connect. If the profile shares engaging Discovery, Draw, Differentiate, and Drive stories along with a clear call to action, readers want to connect and now they know how.
Looking for resources, examples, and feedback to take your storytelling to the next level? Become an Academy Certified Career Storyteller today!
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