How Your Life Story Can Amp Up Your Job Search

Want to be more confident in your job interviews? Write a story. That’s right, a one-page, true story can get you hired.

Your Life Story Can Get You HiredWhat should the story be about?

A time in your life when you accomplished something. Maybe you ran a marathon, or taught your child how to swim, or wrote a brilliant essay, or mesmerized audiences with a starring role on stage.

It doesn’t matter if the accomplishment was large or small as long as it was important to you.

In the story:

  • Explain how you came to take on this challenge, why it was difficult or easy to start, what obstacles you faced along the way, how you dealt with them, and how you felt after you’d succeeded.

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  • List all the “jobs” you did to achieve that goal. Were you a teacher, an athlete, a negotiator, a reporter, a fundraiser, a guide? Did you enter data or calculate results? Did you create, inspire or design?
  • Make note of every single skill you used – including “getting along with people,” or “being surefooted” or “knowing how to get a laugh.”
  • Think about how you felt afterward. The joy, satisfaction, pride, confidence – is that the way you’d like to feel at least once a day for the rest of your life?

See how easy that was? Now do that six more times.

This is called the Seven Stories exercise, and it’s extremely helpful to job hunters and career changers.

If you’ve had a non-corporate job like homemaking or being a silversmith or running a surf shop, these stories can help you translate what you did, learned, taught and experienced into terms that will impress prospective employers.

Why is it helpful to list your favorite skills?

  1. This exercise reinforces your confidence, and instead of apologizing for a lack of experience, you can speak with pride about the things you’ve done that make you a loyal employee, or detail-oriented, or clear-headed in tense situations.
  2. It gives you a larger vocabulary with which to describe yourself. Instead of saying generalized things in a job interview like “I learn fast” or “I’m really good with people,” you’ll describe yourself through your experiences. Telling a prospective employer, “I once had to wrangle 20 five-year-olds on a field trip to the aquarium, and loved every minute” is a lot more interesting (and more convincing) than saying “I’m good with kids.”
  3. You discover outstanding qualities you never realized you had – like how many times you’ve easily assumed leadership positions or how much fun you have with tasks involving math or skiing or working with frogs. So often we tell ourselves what we’re supposed to be good at and never acknowledge the skills we use consistently because we love using them.
  4. You’ll start loving your resume. As you list the duties you’ve performed in past jobs or volunteer situations or schoolwork, you’ll begin to pepper the job descriptions with words that describe doing what you love. You “painted” or “researched” or “managed” or “sang” or “tended” or “explored.” Your resume and cover letter become an accurate reflection of what you’ve loved about each job instead of what you endured.

Write those other six stories. And if you need more information on how to make your dream jobs come true, along with bonus forms to help you discover more about your marketable skills, buy the How Did You Get That Job ebook today.

About Susan Dansby

Susan Dansby has received four Emmy® Awards and two Writers Guild Awards for her work on the soap opera, AS THE WORLD TURNS. She is the author of HOW DID YOU GET THAT JOB? MY DREAM JOBS AND HOW THEY CAME TRUE.
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