Somebody asked me “what do you do if all your stories are boring in comparison with other people’s stories?”
Often the stories we think are boring are interesting to other people because it gives a new perspective. Some ways to make your career stories more interesting are to:
- find the universal in the mundane
- think about what you learned from doing the simplest of tasks
- think about the story and look to add descriptive detail that the listener can imagine
If you had a boring job stamping envelopes, think about the thickness of the ink, the color of the stamp, the sounds in the room. That makes it more interesting.
Here’s an example:
On a resume: stamped envelopes
Revised resume statement: Improved the way envelopes were stamped at the office by redesigning the space. Stacked envelopes into even piles and stuck stamps quickly in groups of 10. Resulted in less mail being returned due to incorrect stamp placement.
In an interview: I stamped envelopes.
Revised story in an interview: I always work to improve things, even if they are small. For example, a lot of mail used to get returned to the office because the stamps were not in the correct place. I changed the way mass mailings were sent out by creating fanned envelope piles. I would stick on the stamp by doing a rolling motion with a my thumb…everyone thought it was magic. It was done faster and we had zero returned mail. These micro changes affect the whole business.
Questions to ask about your stories
Look at the stories you want to tell a potential hiring person and ask:
- What is universal about this story?
- How can I make the story about the lesson I learned instead of focusing just on what I did?
- What detail can I give that lets them imagine the work being done?
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