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Building career success stories

Why storytelling is essential to finding your next job

by Roxanne Ravenel JobSearchCoach  |  1833 views  |  0 comments  |      Rate this now! 

Hiring and training a new employee represents a great expense for an employer. Yet each new hire represents a risk. The hiring process isn’t an exact science. A candidate that looks good on paper won't necessarily fit into the current company culture. A job candidate that is charming and likable may not have the skills and experience to back up his or her claims. So, how can employers best gauge what type of employee you will be?

Many employers have turned to the use of behavioral interview questions to help them determine the viability of a potential employee. Rather than basing such an important decision on questions about what you would do, most employers prefer to know what you have done in similar situations in the past. This information is acquired through a series of behavioral interview questions.

Behavioral interviewing is based on the premise that your past performance and behavior is a good indication of how you will perform and behave in the future. Makes sense, right? We do the same thing in our daily lives. If we learn that a restaurant has a history of failing health inspections, we stop eating there. If we learn that a particular automobile has a history of poor performance or mechanical failure, we wisely opt for another make or model.

This is one of the reasons it is so important to build a reliable job history. It is about far more than the amount of time that we spend in a position. What kind of work reputation have we been building in our career? What job experience do we have under our belts? And what have we learned from the mistakes that we’ve made along the way? By taking the time to draft Career Success Stories, we are better prepared to deal with tough questions that will be posed during the interview process.

The Career Success Story has three basic parts:

Challenge: Describe the situation you faced.

Action: What steps did you take to solve the problem or get results?

Result: What was the end situation? (Use quantifiable figures when appropriate.)

Here is an example of a Career Success Story with quantifiable results:

Challenge: A large percentage of job candidates went through our recruitment process only to turn down the job offer due to pay or potential work schedules.

Action: I adapted the suggested telephone screening dialogue to more fully educate job candidates about pay and work schedules.

Result: The number of job offers that resulted in hiring increased by 35 percent.  My fellow recruiters followed suit with similar results.

Now that you understand the components of the Career Success Story it is time to begin building yours. Create separate Career Success Stories for each skill or competency. For instance, if a job ad stresses that Company X is looking for a "Team player with phenomenal customer service skills and a track record of success in sales," at the very least you should go prepared with Career Success Stories that demonstrate your past successes in teamwork, customer service, and sales.

About the Author

Roxanne Ravenel is a Job Search Coach, the author of The Savvy Jobseeker's Guide & Workbook: Five Steps to a Simply Successful Job Search and the host of The Savvy Jobseeker. She teaches job seekers to become improve their resumes, strengthen their interviewing skills, and implement a customized self-marketing plan. Visit SavvyJobseeker.com to learn more. Copyright © 2008 Roxanne Ravenel

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