Using stories to get a job or promotion

How can we use stories to get a job or a promotion? Getting a job is a highly competitive business and there is lots of advice about how to get it.  Well here’s some more!  Start telling tales to get that job!

We remember stories so use them to be memorable in your career development. What is the story of your career? Can you tell at least seven different stories about your career? If not you are not trying hard enough.
Here are 7 essential plots you can use effectively in career development ( adapted from Pryor & Bright, 2008, Intl Jnl of educational and vocational guidance).

get a job with story plots

1. Rags to riches
This is a story about going from nothing to being enriched. You can tell a story about going from no experience to being highly experienced in your field. Or a story of building product sales from nothing to greatness or building a business from scratch or getting into college from humble beginnings.
The story highlights opportunity awareness, resilience, optimism, learning from others, persistence and that you are a winner. These are great qualities to convey in landing a job!

2. Overcoming the monster
This differs from the above in that it is a story about dealing with a particular challenge or threat. It could be overcoming some set back back or dealing with a major impediment on your life. Preferably keep the demons work related or to do with things beyond your control. Ie this is generally not the time to go Hollywood and share stories of your addiction and how you beat it!!
The story highlights your resilience, commitment to learning and improvement, tenacity and ability.  They’ll want to interview for that job just to hear more about these stories!
3. Voyage and return
This is a story of learning. Maybe you set out on a project, discovered new things about the product or how to sell it or even about qualities you didn’t know you had until you displayed them on the journey. The story focuses on how you have become a changed person on your return from the venture a wiser more capable person. I demonstrates life long learning self improvement, wisdom, strategy, insight, openness to experience. Most jobs require continual learning and improvement – these stories will tick those boxes!
4. The quest
This is a story about personal determination to see through to completion a project or journey that was important to you. For instance your quest to ensure all staff complied with safe work practices or your quest to eliminate waste at work etc. The story highlights values and determination.  The job winner is often the most determined candidate!
5. Comedy. Here the story is about you being under a misapprehension while others could see your folly. It starts out with an example of your wrong headedness but concludes with you seeing the light and ‘alls well that ends well”! The story allows you to demonstrate a weakness and how you became aware of it and remedied it. A good one for that cliche job interview question what are your weakneses?
6. Tragedy. Here you tell of a decision made that seemed great at the time but gradually descended into a dire situation. Ie expanding business too quickly, introducing terrible marketing scheme etc. It might seem odd to include this as a story to help your career, but there are two ways you can use it. First you tell the story about another person or company to demonstrate your analytic skill in identifying wrong steps. Or you use it about yourself and the follow up immediately with a rags to riches, voyage and return or rebirth story.
7. Rebirth. Finally this is a before and after story. In this story you fall under the influence of a malign power and ‘go to sleep’ or tread water for a while. Eventually you are woken up – classically by a third party hero figure like a mentor who puts you back on track but now refreshed and better than ever a new you for new times.

Now try writing each of the 7 stories and see what a powerful set of career marketing tools you will have. Why not share some with us on a comment to this post?

If I have time I might post some concrete examples (send a comment requesting it).

Anyhow this is written on my iPhone in hairdresser’s chair getting made slightly less ugly for my keynote next week in Vancouver bccda. Can’t wait!

2 thoughts on “Using stories to get a job or promotion

  1. Roberta

    Great idea. I’m very interested in using stories in bsusiness as they are easy to remeber. JOb interviews are a natural extension…

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