Telling Stories: Resumes and Interviews

If life were a party, what would you bring?
January 4, 2017
Listening To Your Gut
May 25, 2018

Most resumes fall short. The resume needs to be more than just a summary of where you worked and what you did. It has to convey why you’re good! In the bullet points below each job, highlight what you did that was exceptional.

  • Did you win any awards or receive any recognition?
  • Promotions?
  • How did you compare to others in your role?
  • Did you take on any assignments beyond your job?

In other words, what makes you stand out. If possible, quantify the revenues your efforts generated or the expenses saved. In highlighting your achievements, it will be clear what your responsibilities are, so including general information that could be lifted from the job posting you originally applied to is usually unnecessary.

The structure for achievement statements is: Situation, Action, Result. Using quick one or two line stories that effectively illustrate your accomplishment. Define the situation by explaining what was going on or the problem you inherited. (Example: “Assumed responsibility for an under-performing team…”). Next, share the specific actions you took to resolve the problem or situation. (“… and by conducting weekly one-on-ones and personally growing the company’s relationship with the major stakeholders…”). Last, provide a specific or quantifiable result. (“… the team was able to exceed its revenue goal for three consecutive quarters.”).

During the interview, you want to expand upon these achievements to tell brief stories of your successes. Ideally, you should have around five of these stories prepared for anticipated interview questions. They can work for most types of interview questions, but are suited best for behavioral interview questions. These are the questions that often begin, Tell me about a time when you… The theory behind these questions is that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, so you’re being asked to provide examples of how you’ve responded to situations that you would likely encounter in the new job.

With stories of your most relevant accomplishments prepared, you’ll be ready to speak confidently about your career achievements and leave those interviewing you with a clear picture of the many things that you have to contribute to their organization.