The purpose of both your resume and LinkedIn profile is to market the potential value you offer, gain interviews and advance your job search. Storytelling plays a part here.
Your value to your target employers is, of course, measured by various things. They include the qualifications, skills and areas of expertise you possess . . . that is, your hard skills.
But the unique value you offer goes well beyond hard skills.
Employers want to get a feel for what kind of person you are. They want to get some idea of your leadership style and how you get things done . . . what you’ll be like to work with.
And they want to know if you’ll fit into their company culture.
You want to brand yourself in your job search marketing communications − LinkedIn profile, resume, biography, etc.
You need to differentiate your potential value over your competition. That requires infusing some personality into the content.
After all, if you’re job searching effectively, you’re networking purposefully and getting your resume in front of human eyeballs.
You’re doing more than responding to job postings that land your resume in Applicant Tracking Systems.
And you’ve written robust, SEO-driven LinkedIn profile content that draws search engines to it, but also appeals to and attracts humans.
With the content for your LinkedIn profile, and any other online profile, it’s all about balancing personal branding with personal SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Content that is an interesting read is more likely to be read.
Checking off all those boxes is a tall order.
Especially with a resume, which can be a very confining document.
It needs to be concise and to-the-point − no arbitrary information included − to keep it to a reasonable length.
Fortunately, a LinkedIn profile is not so confining. Much more content can, and should, be pumped into your profile than your resume will allow, making LinkedIn an ideal place for storytelling.
The idea is to weave together your hard and softer skills in short points that drive home the benefits you’ve brought employers in the past.
Storytelling helps you do that, and people relate and connect better with people through storytelling.
Storytelling is not just for your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Although this article focuses on storytelling for your resume and LinkedIn profile, storytelling comes into play throughout the job search process.
You’ll need to develop and have at-the-ready several relevant career stories for networking and job interviews.
They should be different ones than you used in your written materials, so it’s wise to develop, say, 10-15 stories for each role and/or employer.
And these verbal career stories will naturally be longer than your written ones, although it’s best to keep them to the point and not overly long.
How Storytelling Makes Your Executive Resume and LinkedIn Profile Dazzle
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).
Choose standout contributions you’ve made to past companies, in terms of business value, that will resonate with future employers.
How the Challenge – Actions – Results storytelling method works
Using the C-A-Rs method, keep your brand and value proposition to your target employers in mind, while working on the following exercise:
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?
What specific ACTION(s) did you take to meet the challenge and improve things (whatever the goal was or whatever needed turning around)?
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!
Tell the story in depth, step-by-step, and don’t worry that you may be compiling a lot of information – your efforts digging deep will be well spent.
After detailing the entire story, go back, consolidate, and hone the information to create concise value-driven stories.
A tip – When writing each short (2 to 3 lines) story for your resume or LinkedIn profile, lead with the big result . . . meaning numbers whenever possible. 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.
Some benefits C-A-Rs storytelling offers
Prompts your memory.
It reminds you of key contributions you’ve made and how your strengths have benefited employers. This is the confidence-booster you need as you move into the sometimes daunting world of today’s executive job search.
Prepares you for networking and job interviews.
It 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, or just doesn’t know what questions to ask to get the information that will help them assess you?
Or maybe they’re so busy talking they never ask you any questions. Interjecting your tight, well-rehearsed stories makes their job easier.
Makes an impact at interviews.
In interviews, it 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. [More below about storytelling when networking and in job interviews.]
Elevates your candidacy.
It generates chemistry and deeper interest in your candidacy, better than merely stating the end results of your contributions.
Puts you in a positive light.
It 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.
Provides diverse, relevant content.
Because you’ll be developing several C-A-Rs stories, you’ll have enough to use different ones in your resume than your LinkedIn profile, and a few different ones for your cover letters.
Adds to your job search portfolio.
It can be transformed 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.
Your roadmap for strong storytelling when networking and in job interviews
Although this article focuses on storytelling for your written job search materials, storytelling plays a big role when you’re networking and in job interviews.
When you’re developing these verbal stories, they’ll be more colloquial in nature than the ones you’ve used in your written materials. And they will be longer than those you’ve used in your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Leadership communications strategist Judith Humphrey offered a road map for good storytelling:
Don’t turn a short story into a long and winding verbal road that loses your audience.
Engage the listener’s emotions
Captivate your audience from the get-go and they’ll be with you all the way.
Make a point
The best point is one that is inspiring and uplifting.
Let it flow
The simplest way of thinking about flow is to build your story chronologically: with a past, present, and future.
Tell it well
Speak with enthusiasm, but don’t overdo your emotions. You want your audience to emote or laugh or get excited. If you do all those things, they won’t.
End with action
The end is action that embodies the moral of the story—the lesson learned.