The art of executive storytelling

by Directioneering

As career consultants, we coach our outplacement candidates on how to effectively tell their career story. An important job search skill is the ability to relate a career journey in a compelling and exciting manner and make a potential employer take notice – the art of storytelling.

When we first meet with candidates, we ask them to walk through their resumes so we can understand their professional experiences and the trajectory of their careers.

What we normally hear is a list of companies where they worked. It usually sounds something like “From 2000 – 2006 I worked at ABC Company. Then, I was recruited to work for XYZ Organisation, and I was there from 2006 – 2010. Next, I went to MNO Group from 2010 – 2014, where I was made redundant. Now I am meeting with you.” Talking about employment history like this is fairly dry, and can end up sounding like a series of professional obituaries – “I worked here and that job died. Then, I went there and that job died. Next, I went to another company. Now that job died as well.”

There is an art to executive storytelling. When done right, it becomes an exciting narrative that engrosses the listener. A career story is the story of a career journey. It’s the story of career decisions, experiences and the lessons learned from both the successes and failures. It’s about the managers who saw something and mentored and groomed someone for bigger and better things.

In short, the compelling part of employment history is the narrative. One might have worked for a certain company from 2006 – 2010. However, the story that should be shared includes the experiences in that space. It’s a series of vignettes that explains one’s professional and personal evolution, how one grew and became the professional of today.

This is a story full of excitement, intrigue, big successes and some very important learning experiences — sometimes known as failure. The story is meaningful because it explains how a person developed a unique combination of skills and  perspectives, and what makes them a more interesting job applicant than their peers.

In truth, the past is a small part of the story. The bigger story is where the candidate is going and how they plan to bring value to their next employer. The past provides credibility and makes a candidate’s claims more convincing because they have a strong track record to back it up. But what makes the story compelling is what they can do for the next employer to help grow the business.

This article was originally published by Career Partners International. Directioneering is a member of the CPI network. Visit their website here