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Storytelling Strategies to Advance Your Career

As I shared in my blog a couple of weeks back, both believing and owning your story will increase your confidence, authentic leadership, and presence, both of which are key to your long-term happiness and career success.

I did receive some follow-up requests inquiring about how to create a compelling story—inspiring me to write about today's topic: "How to use storytelling to advance your career."

The effectiveness of mastering storytelling for personal purposes is no secret. This is exceptionally true in an interview setting. When you successfully convey your story in an interview, you can effectively communicate your key skills, talents, and experiences. In doing so, you are more likely to be perceived as the best candidate for the job. It goes beyond the interview, and you can still apply the concept for presentations to a personal pitch.

What Makes a Good Story?

Well, if you enjoy movies or historical-fiction (or any fiction) as much as I do, you probably already know this, but the basics are:

  1. Beginning- Normal.

  2. Middle- Event that changes everything.

  3. End- Results after the change.

For a story to be fully-fledged, we need:

  1. A character or character: Someone the audience can connect with.

  2. An emotion: A familiar common and relatable emotion.

  3. The big moment: A specific point in time where the main changing event happened.

  4. Details: Describing the moment in a way that is relevant to the audience.

How to craft an authentic, compelling story about yourself when you think you don't have a good story to tell?

Well, start by asking yourself some open-ended questions that will help you dig some of these stories; below are some examples as a starting point:

  • What was your proudest moment?

  • When did you know the sacrifice or work was worth it?

  • What was your most embarrassing moment?

  • When has someone said that you could not accomplish something?

  • What is the hardest thing you've ever done or accomplish?

  • When was a moment you had to prove to be resourceful to thrive?

  • What was your first accomplishment or ___?

Once you have narrowed down the answers to questions like these, you'll realize that you have a lot of good stuff to create a good story.

Next, depending on the scenario, I like to recommend getting the story within the STAR framework, a storytelling technique widely used to answer behavioral questions in interviews:

  • Situation (Beginning)

  • Task (Beginning)

  • Action (Middle)

  • Result (End)

Let see how this works out in real-world in an interview setting with the quintessential question:

"Tell me about yourself?"

Let me tell you a brief story (no pun intended.)

Before working with me, a client of mine was having issues landing the next level role and could not pass beyond the first round of interviews. When I ask her this question, the answer that I got what something along the lines of

  • I'm a Senior Marketing Manager, with x years of experience. I've been at my actual company for x years… and the rambling went on and on.

The answers she was giving were not memorable and did not help her rise above the competition. Together, we worked to craft a response incorporating the STAR approach and came out something like this:

  • I'm a Sr. Marketing Manager with X years of experience in __, ___, __. I have a passion for working cross-functionally with many teams to achieve the organization's financial targets and a knack for not giving up easily. As interesting fact about me…

Using the "interesting fact" as a segway, she went to tell a quick story using the STAR method that illustrated her grit and the values her diverse background had instilled in her. She was able to showcase her experience as a first-generation professional growing up in an all-white suburb as a Value Add, appealing to the feeling of the "underdog." As a result, she connected with her interviewer, showcasing her skills, and ultimately landed the role that she was looking for.

How storytelling techniques help renew the bond of common humanity.

Storytelling works because, for millennia, we transferred our knowledge via storytelling, so we are wired to be compelled to listen to a good story.

But first, let us acknowledge that for many of us, women and BIPOC professionals, telling our story is hard. Many of us grew up under the false assumption that we did not have an account worth telling. This assumption was and still is reinforced by certain segments of the majority; thus, we feel shame, stay quiet, and give away our power.

Before you decide to go ahead and put these techniques to work, you need to alter this mindset. Let go of the false assumptions and beliefs that your story does not count, or is not worth sharing, because it does.

Today more than at any other point in time, we ought to use storytelling to share our stories to build trust and encourage a renewed sense of shared humanity amongst us to stop taking sides and coming together as one.

Let go of your Assumptions.

I know from my own personal experience that letting go of limiting beliefs, and self-imposed assumptions is no easy feat. It has taken me years to find my voice and finally speak my truth.

Now, I'm making it my personal mission to use my skills, knowledge, and experience to help you not only to find your voice but own it and use it to lead your career and life in a way that is authentic and meaningful to you.

Ready to get started? Then contact me HERE to learn more about how I can help you get rid of assumptions and limiting beliefs and nailing your story!


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