How C-A-R Storytelling Gives Executive Resume Branding Zing

by Meg Guiseppi on August 13, 2012

Granted, a resume is a very confining career marketing document.

It needs to be concise and to-the-point . . . no arbitrary information included, to keep it to a reasonable length.

It’s purpose, whether in the form of an actual resume or adjusted to be an online profile, is to market you to gain interviews with your target employers.

On the other hand, in order to brand yourself in your resume, you need to differentiate the value you offer your target employers over your competition. That requires infusing some personality into the content.

After all, if you’re job searching effectively, you’re getting your resume in front of human eyeballs, not just applicant tracking systems that scan and dump your resume into a database. An interesting read is more likely to be read.

That’s a tall order.

How do you get some zing into your resume? Storytelling.

A storytelling device resume writers have been using for decades is the C-A-Rs approach, or Challenge – Actions – Results, also known by other acronyms such as S-T-A-Rs (Situation – Tasks – Actions – Results).

I have my executive clients choose 4-5 (or more) standout contributions they’ve made to companies, in terms of business value, within the past 10-15 years.

Using the C-A-Rs method, I ask them to keep their brand and value proposition in mind, while working on the following exercise:

1. What was the specific CHALLENGE (or Situation) facing the company and/or your team? Were you/the company facing particularly difficult odds with this situation? What were the stakes?

2. What specific ACTION(s) did you take to meet the challenge and improve things (whatever the goal was or whatever needed turning around)?

3. What were the long and short term RESULT(s) that positively impacted the company? Did you meet the goal, improve things, and/or turn around the situation? How long did it take to see the results? Monetize the results and/or use metrics whenever possible – NUMBERS TALK!

I ask them to tell the story in depth, step-by-step, and not to worry that they’re compiling too much information – their efforts digging deep are well spent. After detailing the entire story, we go back, consolidate, and hone the information to create concise value-driven stories.

A tip – When writing each short (2 to 3 lines) story, lead with the big result . . . meaning numbers. Here’s an example for a CEO Consultant – Business Process and Profitability Improvement:

Salvaged 65% of over-budget, behind-schedule million-dollar Financial System IT project for $280M utility company. Banked on efforts already invested, redefined the approach, mapped out a new path, renewed confidence, and unified everyone toward the same path of success.

Developing C-A-Rs stories offers many benefits:

Reminds you of key contributions you’ve made and how your strengths have benefitted employers. This is the confidence-booster you need as you move into the sometimes daunting new world of executive job search.

Helps you become accustomed to articulating your value in interviews and when networking. Have you ever been interviewed by an inept communicator? Someone who either hasn’t prepared, just doesn’t know what questions to ask to get the information that will help them assess you, or is so busy talking she never asks you any questions? Interjecting your tight, well-rehearsed stories makes her job easier.

In interviewing, helps you deal with behavioral-based questions – “Tell me about a time when you . . .” and any questions directed at your weaknesses. Prepare a success story that tells how you dealt with a weakness and came through for your company.

Generates chemistry and deeper interest in your candidacy better than merely stating the WOW end results of your contributions.

Helps people see how you leverage your skills and strengths to make things happen, and makes it easier for employers to picture you in action, making things happen for their organization.

Transforms into a Critical Leadership Initiatives Summary, a stand-alone career document showcasing top contributions. See one I created for a CEO – Global Operations Management.

Take the time to create and rehearse several career success stories. Having them at-the-ready, to communicate what sets you apart, can be the deciding factor in landing your next great gig.

Related posts:

Executive Resume Writers’ Best Kept Secret

Top 10 Executive Resume Branding Tips

Is the Executive Resume Dead or Dying?

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