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Development focus: Telling your story to get hired

Your career is a story. To get hired by the best companies, you need to know how to tell it. You must sell yourself, both as a professional and as an individual, so people believe in you.

It is not easy at all. Like every story, you need to know the beginning, plot, twist and happily-ever-after.

Your story is what draws interviewers towards you and encourages them to believe in why you will be a success. Hiring is not just rational; it is an emotive decision for managers who typically use language like “I believed in them” or ”felt they would fit in”. Belief and trust are not transferred by a test results, they are emotive reactions to the authenticity of how you present yourself.

Many professional people accidently shroud their true strengths behind corporate language or technical jargon at interviews and fail to get the job.

It is very important to try and craft your story. For simplicity, try considering these elements before a job interview:

1: Know the commercial value of your work

Are you clear about how success or failure in your job would affect the bottom line of an employer or shape their success as a company? Are you clear what effect your endeavours have to those further up the chain?

If you know the commercial value of your work – you know how your story relates to the employer and that is very powerful.

2: Why do you care about success?

Professional jobs require hard graft. Sometimes it is very hard indeed. If success in a certain job truly matters to you, be prepared to say why. Small nuggets of honesty will put your interviewers at ease and hold your narrative together.

Simple details like “I’m desperate to get on the housing ladder – it is crucial I exceed expectations and achieve my bonuses” or “Success in a European project is vital because my husband is Italian and eventually we would like to live and work there”.

Your interviewer will remember small personal details, the more honest the better. 

3: Why success matters – professionally

Most corporate employers want to hire people with ambition. It is unfortunately difficult to express the right balance between being eager to progress and being prepared to “do your time”. 

To get the right balance, be clear about how success in the job would develop you professionally – where would it have taken you and changed your prospects? Could success help shape your professional destiny in some, small way? Be positive, be excited.

4: Explain your journey – where’s the drama?

Condensing your professional history, past lessons and successes into a 10-minute explanation is very difficult. Ninety per cent of your past will be explained your CV – at interview you need to give new information which adds richness and personality to your story.  If there is a crux to your journey – be sure to point it out. For example: “It was project Y which first showed by how fun multinational projects are and took me in this direction.”

5: Know your USPs

None of us are excellent at everything. The things you are really good at need to be made crystal clear at interview and directly related to the new job in question.

Considering your own unique selling points can feel strange – after all, you are a person not a commodity but it’s a necessary evil. Don’t make more than three points otherwise their strength is diluted.  

In a competitive job market, being able to tell your story to employers in a short space of time is crucial. Simply by writing notes on the five areas in this article, you should feel better prepared for interviews and clearer about your potential value.

Olivier Vidal is managing director of Go.Show.Do.




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