Just how well are you telling your professional story?
Are you actively communicating who you are on your business website? Do your potential clients get a good sense of your background, your values, your commitment to service excellence or your friendliness and sense of humor? Are articles about you engaging and illuminating or vague and sales-focused? Does your résumé articulate what an asset you are or portray you as just another replaceable cog?
When I graduated with my undergraduate degree, it was the best of times and the worst of times. In California, we were experiencing rolling blackouts in the midst of the Enron Scandal. Businesses were nervous and reluctant to hire. Meanwhile in Nevada, Las Vegas was experiencing a ridiculous housing boom while the boundaries of its city continued to stretch west to Red Rock. Interstate 15 might as well have been paved with gold. I got on down the road to Sin City and found myself interviewing for a job in radio sales. Though the only thing I’d ever sold in life were Girl Scout cookies, I was determined to get the job.
The manager asked, “We don’t require prior sales experience but I still need to know why you think we should take a chance on you.”
I said, “No matter who you are in life, you’re always selling yourself. The way you look, dress and speak, your ideas, your feelings, everything is a sale. I’m selling myself to you right now.”
She replied, “You’re right about that.”
Then I added, “Look. I’ve got 25 cents in my purse and about two dollars in my bank account right now. I’m highly motivated.”
I got hired and began working the very next day.
In that moment, I realized how important it is in business to make a personal and sometimes vulnerable connection. Therefore, when I write bios and articles for my clients, I ask them to tell me their story and give me as much detail as possible. They may not think the minutiae of their life journeys are important (or that revealing things like failure or heartache are good) but that’s only because they are living it and familiarity (and/or supposed shame) can be blinding. But for anyone and everyone else, it’s these little tidbits of experience that really humanize a person and cultivates the desire to form a meaningful relationship with him or her.
When I write and revise résumés for my clients, I practice the same storytelling approach. Any old résumé can recount the duties and responsibilities of a job. It’s that special résumé, however, that articulates how a person’s performance of those duties proved to be an invaluable asset to their company. Therefore, I make sure to communicate the personal success of a client. Often my clients don’t even realize just how many valuable contributions they’ve made throughout their careers until we discuss their professional history together.
In all of these things, never discount telling the story of you. It could mean all the difference in your career success.
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