I have yet to meet a client who doesn't have at least one fascinating story to tell. Whether it's the Administrative Assistant who pulled her boss's ass out of the fire through some exceptional behind-the-scenes public relations work, or the Operations Executive who orchestrated a pre-dawn helicopter evacuation of his expat employees, it's the stories that make each of my clients one of a kind. And it's the stories that energize my days and keep me passionate about my work.
Finding Your Career Story is Like Canoe-tripping. Here's why...
Uncovering the stories isn't always easy however, and it can be a mind-altering experience for clients who are not used to talking about or even thinking much about themselves. I liken it the third day phenomenon of canoe tripping. Anybody who has gone wilderness canoing with a group of strangers will know exactly what I mean.
On the first day, we are all on our best behaviour, our conversations are polite, the topics of discussion all fact based and superficial. By day three, all pretences are gone, and each of us has been revealed for who we are, in all our glorious colour and complexity. We will each have had at least one FGE**, perhaps involving a misjudged river rock, a portage from hell, a close encounter with wildlife, or a dispute with a canoe partner (typical conversation: Go left... Left.... NO OTHER LEFT!!!).
FACT: Everyone has at least one FGE!
These FGEs are character building. They cause us to confront our foibles and take ownership of our strengths. They create the emotional space for self examination and questioning. Why am I here? Where am I going? Who do I want to be with? What do I want next? A five day canoe trip can do more for a couple's relationship than six months of marriage counselling.
A kind of quietude descends at the end of the third day as each tripper sits in introspection. Any traces of the rat race have been shed, and when eyes connect there is a glow of authenticity that comes with self-awakening and a new sense of self assurance. It is usually around the campfire on the third day that the good stories come out, the ones that will ultimately transform a group of strangers into life-long friends and trusted allies.
Personal Authenticity = A Memorable Career Story
My goal as a Resume Strategist is to fast-track this process of self discovery, and I love it. I love getting people to open up about themselves and reach a place of personal authenticity from which truly unique and distinctive career stories can emerge. I love asking the probing questions that create aha moments. I love working with my clients to find exactly the right words to tell their stories. Any good marketing professional will tell you that stories sell. Ask any recruiter about a memorable candidate, and chances are that it will be some element of their story that stands out.
I sometimes read career columns advising people that they shouldn't pay for a professional resume writer, but do it themselves with the help of a reverse chronology formula or template.
Resume strategy isn't just laying out a reverse chronology of your career path. It's about telling a clear, succinct story about who you are and why you are the perfect solution to some company's problem. It stirs interest and invites connection. It creates the opening for an interview, and lays the groundwork for you to be able to expand on your talents, strengths and insights.
A recent client summed it up well after landing an interview with his new resume. Karen, I know we got it right. This is the first time that I didn't spend the whole interview defending my resume. We jumped straight into my story - what I can do, what I can offer, how I will fit. It didn't even feel like an interview.