Job searching is hard whether you’re looking for your first role, career progression, or switching to a new industry. You apply to many jobs only to receive silence or the automatic “we’re moving forward with other candidates” message. Maybe you’re getting interviews but are finding it difficult to make a strong impression. You’re putting in the effort yet still not getting desired results—aka hired! Here’s where stories come in. At MCE, we believe in the power of art to inspire and make a change. Every job seeker has a unique story, and it doesn’t begin or end with a job application or interview. Read on to find out how to support your job search with storytelling.
Taking it back to basics
Remember in school how you learned about the 5Ws and H? You know, who, what, when, where, why, and how. Believe it or not, this format is very much relevant today. Think about the last time someone told you a story. If they only included the who, you would still have questions. The same thing applies to your career story and your job search. You need to incorporate as many of these elements in as many places as possible. Let’s explore the following:
- Who are you?
- What types of roles are you seeking?
- Why these roles?
- How and where do I best position myself?
- When should I engage?
Job Search Storytelling 101
Don’t worry if you are not a professional writer. There are many editing tools and blogs to help you polish. For now, let’s focus on your content. To define your who, think about yourself. What are the qualities that make you a unique and valuable individual in the workplace? Next, let your self-clarity inform what roles you pursue and lead with why, in your cover letter and any other outreach to prospective employers. Why are you motivated to follow this path? The reasons vary but may include things like honing your craft, career progression, and more.
The steps listed above can be considered your strategy. Now comes the time for action! The following questions to ask are how do I best position myself and where? For the how, consider your application materials such as resume, cover letter, online portfolio, and social media. Be sure to focus on achievements and highlights here. When you’re reading a story, would you rather have a list of things (tasks) or a story of how the lead character made a difference? While the list can add context, we’d bet you’d rather read about the impact. Social media can be an excellent place to promote your career journey and story while building and staying in touch with your network. Remember, your goal is to tell your story and be consistent with it!
Job searching is not an exact science. The truth is that many talented people are vying for opportunities. Not moving forward in a hiring process is not an indicator of what you have to offer. What’s most important, however, is presenting and owning your story. And remember, part of that story is your resilience and willingness to persevere. You will connect with the opportunity meant for you!