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The Importance of Your Story During Your Job Search

The Importance Of Your Story During Your Job Search

If you are looking for work, you should never look on your own. You should use the power of your network to help you find the position you are seeking. And in order for them to help you, they need to know your goals and your story.

Your network consists of your trusted family members, trusted friends, trusted colleagues, prospective employers, and your professors and instructors. These are the individuals who will help spread the word about you.

Your network doesn’t need to be large; it just needs to include those who believe in you and are aware of what you are trying to accomplish. They need to know your goals by understanding why you are looking for work and what kind of work you are seeking. For example, you might be looking for a part-time job to help pay the bills while you’re still in school; or you might be looking for a full-time job that reflects your major or principal course of study.

Your network also needs to know your story. They need to have a short narrative in place that will allow them to easily explain how you add value to an organization and why you should be hired.

To build your story, break it down into three simple steps:

Step 1: Introduce yourself and explain your current situation

In this step, you want to get to the heart of the matter about your current situation. Or, putting it differently, you need to explain what you are doing at this point in your life. Let’s say you’re studying to be an automotive technician and are about to receive your Certificate of Achievement. You might say the following:

“My name is _________ and I’m about to graduate from the Automotive Technology program at XYZ College in [city, state]. It’s one of the strongest programs in the nation, with great training from instructors who are ASE Master Technicians. I’ll receive my Certificate of Achievement in [month/year].”

In this example, you are being very clear about where you are studying (name of college), what you’re studying (Automotive Technology), what the program is like (outstanding) and when you’ll receive your Certificate of Achievement (or other degree). And that’s it: simple, to the point, and easily articulated by you and your network.

Step 2: Describe what you would like to do ideally

In this step, you’re giving a little bit of background as to what drove you to follow this path (as an automotive technician) and where – ideally – you would like to work as auto tech. You might say:

“Throughout my life, I’ve always been great at doing anything mechanically with my hands. That’s why I want to be an auto technician. I’ve interned at several Dealerships and really enjoyed the environments and the training they offer. I’d like to find a position at a Dealership in the southern California area.”

In this example you are explaining what drove you to want to be an auto tech (“I’ve always been great at doing anything mechanically with my hands”) and you’ve been specific about where you would like to work (at a Dealership in Southern California).

Step 3: Describe your “inner core”

In this step, you’re describing some of the principles and other qualities that shed light on what it would be like work with you.  You “inner core” doesn’t have to be complicated; just think of it as the source that drives you to work hard and care about what you do. For example, you might say:

“I’m a hard working person with a great attitude, and I really care about the work that I do.”

Then, with these 3 steps in place, your full story would look like this:

“My name is _________ and I’m about to graduate from the Automotive Technology program at XYZ College in [city, state]. It’s one of the strongest programs in the nation, with great training from instructors who are ASE Master Technicians. I’ll receive my Certificate of Achievement in [month/year].

“Throughout my life, I’ve always been great at doing anything mechanically with my hands. That’s why I want to be an auto technician. I’ve interned at several Dealerships and really enjoyed the environments and the training they offer. I’d like to find a position at a Dealership in the southern California area.”

“I’m a hard working person with a great attitude, and I really care about the work that I do.”

By taking the time to piece together your story, you are putting yourself in a position of strength during your job search. Why? Because job seekers have to market themselves. And what is marketing? It’s the act of telling stories and having those stories spread.*

By thinking of yourself as a storyteller and sharing your story with your network (and with anyone who interviews you), you will be adding clarity to your purpose.

And by having your story in hand, you will boost your own self confidence. You will be confident when answering such questions as, “Why should we hire you?” or “How will you add value to our organization?” And you’ll be able to easily respond to such statements as “Tell me about yourself.”

It will take time to piece together the 3 steps of your story, but it will be worth it. Don’t try and come up with a perfect narrative; rather, pull together the 3 steps and then practice telling them to those you trust. Hear yourself tell your story out loud (or at least to yourself) and rest assured that the more you practice, the more confident you will become.

This, in turn, will increase your chances of finding the work you are seeking.

*This is a paraphrase of Seth Godin’s definition of marketing in his outstanding book, “Tribes.”