Why Tell Stories?
Once upon a time stories were told in person to a captivated audience. Stories were shared and passed down orally and committed to memory by cultures all over the world.
But, why? Perhaps, because, apart from simple entertainment, stories are the best way to teach, persuade and understand ourselves.
In short, stories are great connectors. In a Psychology Today article Joshua Gowin PhD writes:
“When you listen to stories and understand them, you experience the exact same brain pattern as the person telling the story.” Tweet: When you listen to stories and understand them, you experience the exact same brain pattern as the person telling the story. #MyUSPMonday @Angel_HR_UK http://goo.gl/bfc3wR
He goes on to say:
“For as long as you’ve got your audience’s attention, they are in your mind. When you hear a good story, you develop empathy with the teller because you experience the events for yourself.”
Stories Make an Impression
What has this got to do with your career?
Well, in a sea of interviewees or networkers, often with similar qualifications and work experiences, you’ve got to make an impression. Fast.
We’ve written before on the power of personal brands READ MORE HERE and as Ian Rowden, former Chief Marketing Officer of the Virgin Group once said:
“The best brands are built on great stories.”
We’re not talking X Factor style sob story here. Career-generating stories are carefully curated to connect with your ideal employer. Tweet: Career-generating stories are carefully curated to connect with your ideal employer. #MyUSPMonday @Angel_HR_UK http://goo.gl/bfc3wR
You must be someone and something a potential employer cares about and wants to buy into. So, you need to:
Showcase your value and think beyond the nuts and bolts of the job description and person specification and create a meaningful bond. Tweet: Showcase your value and think beyond the nuts and bolts of the job description and person specification and create a meaningful bond. #MyUSPMonday @Angel_HR_UK http://goo.gl/bfc3wR
Telling a Career-Generating Story
• How to create a story which will get the attention you really want?
Hone your story. Think short and sweet. Elevator pitch is a common term, and we’ve talked about this before in relation to personal statements READ MORE HERE on CVs.
Your elevator pitch positions you as a solution to an employer’s problem – ie, a vacant role – so should include:
Your USP – how you’ll be of benefit
An aspiration or aim – ie, why you want this role
Fast – in 30 seconds or less
• Really nail your WHY. Leadership Expert Simon Sinek says:
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” Tweet: People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe. #MyUSPMonday @Angel_HR_UK http://goo.gl/bfc3wR
So know why you want to be a head chef. Why you want to inspire kids to eat healthily. Or, why you want to create intricate pastries fit for a queen.
Simon’s site has more on getting to the nub of your why or watch his hit TED talk here.
• Get good at storytelling. Unfortunately telling your story is the only way to get good at it, according to the Society of Storytellers. So, after trying it on your nearest and dearest get out there and tell it.
After all, a well told story is a great way to get a conversation going – just remember to tweak it to your audience.
Yes, you might know what you want to say, but it’s vital to take the audience into account first. What will draw them out? What will they relate to?
Turn your audience off and you’ve lost an opportunity. But, get it right and you could have made that all important connection.
Any particular issues or insights on storytelling for career progression? Need help with your job search? Let us know!
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