Storytelling can change the world. Since the onset of communication, humans have influenced, educated, and entertained each other with powerful stories.

Recruiters and hiring managers are no different.

As a professional on the hunt for a new position, it’s your job to tell your career story in a succinct, powerful way. Your branding materials – i.e., resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and portfolio – should get your point across and make the reviewer want to reach out for more information.

This can be a challenge, especially if you’re strapped for time or are unsure of how to create a story that will impact others.

Here are some tips to make it happen.

Keep it Simple

Too many times, I see job seekers build elaborate, multi-page resumes seemingly chock full of every achievement, project, and task they’ve ever been involved in. This can actually be counterproductive to the goals they are trying to achieve.

Think about the best stories you’ve read or heard. They capture and hold your attention, likely in brief spurts. We’re all distracted with family life and daily responsibilities. And yes, we can pull off a Netflix binge or read an entire book in one day every once in a while. But stories need to be overwhelmingly quick and to the point to move us.

The same holds true for recruiters and hiring managers. For each job announcement they post online, they are receiving hundreds of applications. They’re also in meetings with executive teams to learn about critical hiring needs. They’re also keeping up with all of the necessary documentation needed to organize their hiring processes.

In short, they’re busy.

One of the best ways to break through their businesses is to hit them with a well-crafted story.

Keep it Going

One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is scurrying at the last minute to apply for open roles. They’ll have a bad day at work – we’ve all been there – and find a job announcement that looks interesting. And even though their resume hasn’t been updated in a few years, they’ll add a few quick details and apply for the job.

This lack of effort isn’t likely to pay off when many competing job seekers are taking their search much more seriously.

Your goal as a job candidate should be updating your resume at least a couple times per year. Keep a running list of achievements and positive performance reviews. Update your resume every time you get a promotion or are added to a special project.

Write down the key details of your achievements so you can share them in story form when it comes time to interview for new roles.

Applying for new positions is hard enough. Applying for new positions without updated, accurate personal marketing materials is near impossible.

Keep it Personal

I remember when I interviewed for a job as communications specialist for the Regional Office of Education in Marion back in 2008. At the time, I was working at The Southern Illinoisan, my first job out of college. Looking for a change, I wrote a personal, detailed cover letter to include with my application for the ROE.

My soon-to-be boss told me the cover letter was a main factor in them calling me for the interview. We hit it off and I spent five great years with an amazing team.

The point is, don’t be afraid to tell your story. Get personal in your cover letter. Use first-person, conversational copy in your LinkedIn summary. Concentrate on three or four signature achievements for each job when building your resume’s experience section.

The job market is insanely competitive. Storytelling wins.

Joe Szynkowski is the happy founder and owner of The UpWrite Group, a small local firm that has offered corporate communications, personal branding, public relations, and ghostwriting services since 2008. Email Joe@TheUpWriteGroup.com for more information.

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