How you tell your story—is the story

In job interviews or in everyday conversation, do you freeze up when you start to talk about your yourself? Do you have a hard time figuring out what to tell and what to leave out? What about the things you did that didn’t really turn out exactly as you’d planned? And most important in job interviews, how do you talk about jobs that you absolutely hated?

The good news is that as the storyteller, you have the ability to craft your story. This isn’t to say that you should lie or in any way misrepresent yourself. Don’t. It will come back to bite you. But if you had a job that you absolutely hated, the one thing that you CAN say is what you learned from it. Whatever it was about it that you didn’t like, it more than likely made you wiser than when you started. Give it a positive spin--going negative in a job interview is a big turn off for employers. Think about it, would YOU want to be around someone who complains all the time?

Focus on talking about what you really love and are passionate about. This is the same advice I give to my workshop attendees. When you speak from a place of passion, your audience picks up on that and you rise above the other interviewees.  Being able to communicate your desire and showing a willingness to learn more and build on what you already know is a great place to start.

The one thing that I cannot recommend highly enough, is to spend a decent chunk of time looking at and writing out your personal history. Yes, it’s jobs that you’ve had, and school you’ve attended--but don’t forget to think about the things that you do that you might regularly gloss over--hobbies, family history, hometown and travel. These are important elements that reveal who you are and what makes you unique.

Once you’ve written down your personal history, and included all of the things you’ve done and are good at (paid or not), think about a way to tell your story that emphasizes your strengths that will give a brief history of what brought you to where you are today.

Practice telling the story out loud. This is where people often drop the ball. Converting your thoughts into language is a process that takes practice. Yes, it feels a bit ridiculous, but don't skip this important step. Time yourself. Have a five-minute version ready. Then, a two and a one-minute version. Obviously, you can’t tell everything, but you can hand pick the important elements that are relevant and that brought you to where you are today.

How you tell your story--after you’ve respected the contents enough to commit it to paper, stripped away the inessential, and polished it with enough rehearsal to let the natural passion shine through—IS the story.

William Smartt

99 Madison Ave, Suite 623, New York, NY 10016