Storytelling Your Way to a Job

Let’s be honest…law is not the most thrilling occupation. Most of it, in fact, is rather hum-drum. Unless you prosecute or defend axe-murderers, you are not likely to enthrall fellow cocktail party attendees with riveting tales of your profession. Nonetheless, we all have our stories and anecdotes. Where they come into play as valuable assets is during job hunting.

The Critical Importance of Storytelling
Two of the most important steps you can take in your quest for new legal or law-related employment are to:
differentiate yourself from your competitors; and
make yourself memorable to the key people who can move your career along—prospective employers, contacts, and references.

You can accomplish both aims by becoming a storyteller. This may sound foolish or frivolous, but it is very serious and is a key to getting noticed.

Why Tell Stories?
If you don’t think what people do for a living is dull, take a few job descriptions home with you from your human resources office and try to concentrate and stay awake while reading them. Then, next morning, see if you remember anything about what you read the night before.

This is what the overwhelming majority of resumes read like. And why having to read them is considered an ordeal by virtually every employer. In other words, they are leaden, boring, tedious, uninteresting, dry, and lackluster. Overlay that with being trite, hackneyed, commonplace and overused, and you have a formula for coming across just like everyone else in addition to being eminently forgettable.

In the miraculous event that such a resume actually garners you a job interview, at which you explain yourself in much the same way, and by the time you walk out the door, you will likely leave nary a footprint in the room.

In contrast, if your resume and interview are rife with anecdotes and stories about how you handled yourself in specific situations, you immediately become (1) much more interesting than your job competitors, and (2) are likely to imprint yourself and your capabilities on a prospective employer when the bulk resume review ends and then again when you walk out of the interview room. You will have made yourself memorable.

Who Needs to Hear Your Stories?
Employers, obviously.
But the listener universe does not end there. It must also include your references. By waxing anecdotal with them, you are providing them the necessary meat to flesh out who you are and what you can do when they are contacted by prospective employers.
Finally, your networking contacts also need to hear your stories of professional prowess and accomplishments. Having those in their stables will make any intermediation they undertake with either would-be employers or additional contacts much more compelling, while also providing them with the information necessary to understand who you are and guide you in the right direction.

Up Next: Storytelling Part 2, How to Tell Your Story