About this blog …

A Storied Career began curating and documenting the world of applied storytelling in May 2005, had its most active period between 2008 and 2010, and had its most recent post (before this one) in 2014. Read the full history. While I am undecided about ever posting in this blog again, I believe it is a worthy artifact of the world of applied storytelling during the period of active publication. The blog has MANY broken links, but a plug-in at least shows which links are broken, possibly reducing reader frustration. I hope to eventually fix many of these broken links, as well as re-publish my series of 100 Q+A interviews with story practitioners. Please contact me if you have questions or comments about the blog.

Crafting Your Career Brand Story in 14 Steps

Guest Post by Meg Guiseppi


“We can never get away from traditional oral narrative culture because we think in story; that’s how our brains are wired.”

– Katharine Hansen, PhD

Brand=StoryCapturing the attention of people assessing you through your resume, LinkedIn profile, and biography – typically rather dry, business-oriented content – can be a challenge.

Sure, you need to include all the right keywords representing your skill sets and areas of expertise . . . but that’s just to keep pace with your competitors.

How will you catapult your value and good-fit qualities above the crowd, in these often anemic personal marketing materials?

By using the time-honored tradition of storytelling.

If you’ve ever listened to a great storyteller, you know how connected it made you feel to the person and what’s being said.

In job search, storytelling works similarly. Building stories around your skill sets, accomplishments, and good-fit qualities helps attract people to you and differentiates the unique value you offer.

Storytelling helps you make an emotional connection with employers and generate chemistry for yourself as a candidate, compelling hiring decision-makers to want to learn more about you by asking for an interview.

Storytelling helps employers get a feel for the kind of person you are and how you make things happen and envision you contributing on the job.

First, before you can write your resume, LinkedIn profile, biography, and other job-search collaterals, you need to know who will be reading these materials, so your content will speak directly to that target audience.

Narrow your job search by targeting specific employers, researching their current challenges, and identifying how you can help them right now.

Then define your brand and promise of value to them so your content will resonate with the values, vision, attributes, passions, and driving strengths they’re looking for.

The C-A-Rs (Challenge – Actions – Results) method of job-search storytelling is a good way to start. You’ll showcase a few significant contributions you’ve made to past employers by describing in depth the Challenge you faced, what Actions you took, and what the Results were that benefitted the company.

But you can take storytelling a few steps further, beyond the metrics-driven accomplishments the C-A-R method is designed to elicit.

Here are some questions to prompt career brand stories around your personality and attributes. Use abbreviated versions in your resume, LinkedIn profile, and especially your biography – a vehicle tailor-made for storytelling – and rely on them as you network and interview:


1. What are you most passionate about doing – in your personal life and work life?

2. What differentiates you from others who do the same work – your competition in the job market? What combination of skills and personal attributes do you have to offer that no one else does?

3. What drove or inspired you to become involved in your field?

4. What are 2 or 3 defining moments for you as your career progressed? Events that shaped your career path, had the most impact on making you who you are today, and led you to add value to your employer organizations.

5. What 1 or 2 things are you most proud of accomplishing in your career?

6. Which of your personal attributes proved most beneficial in your career and why?

7. Describe a few times when you drew upon your best attributes and strengths to accomplish something that benefitted the organization you worked for.

8. How have adversity and challenges made you stronger and a more valuable worker, manager, or leader?

9. What aspects of your professional journey do you consider unique and why?

10. To what do you attribute your success as a manager or leader (if applicable)?

11. What are the two or three most important lessons you learned along the way that others could benefit from? How did you use those lessons in your career?

12. Do you have a code of ethics or set of beliefs that dictate the choices you make. Were there times when this code was challenged?

13. Talk about some of the people you’ve mentored. How did you help them? What were the circumstances? What impact did your guidance have on their career progression? How did your mentoring impact and benefit the company or organization?

14. Talk about a mentor of yours who helped shape your career or who most influenced you. How did they help you be a better contributor to your employers?

Final Thoughts on Creating Your Brand Story

Yes, it takes time to dig deep and do this work on crafting a great stories that showcase your career brand. But, if the content you create based on your stories resonates with your target employers and results in more job interviews for the jobs you want, isn’t it worth it?

For more information, see also these sections of Quintessential Careers:


JobActionDay.com: Job Action Day 2014

This article is part of Job Action Day 2014.



Meg Guiseppi

Meg Guiseppi, CERM, CMRW, CPBS, COIS, CSBA, CBAA, CPRW, CEIC, is CEO of ExecutiveCareerBrand.com and author of 23 Ways You Sabotage Your Executive Job Search and How Your Brand Will Help You Land, has been partnering with senior-level and c-suite executives for 20+ years to help them differentiate and strategically position their unique ROI for today’s executive job search, and Land a GREAT-FIT New Gig!™ The Personal Branding Expert at Job-Hunt.org, a leading Internet employment portal, Meg has been featured and quoted in Forbes, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal’s FINS, Inc.com, Fortune, CMO.com, PBS’ Next Avenue, and others.


Your LinkedIn Personal-Brand Story: 7 Steps to Crafting It

Guest Post by Rachel DiCaro Metscher

If you are not using LinkedIn to tell your personal brand story, you’re missing an opportunity to promote your expertise in front of colleagues and future employers.

Your LinkedIn profile should paint a picture beyond your resume of who you are and what you bring to the table. When I look at your LinkedIn profile, what three things do you want me to take away? Who are you professionally? Are you a B2B rockstar? Content Marketing Mastermind?

Whether you are a 20-year professional or just starting out, you should consider how to promote yourself through LinkedIn. With more than 300 million users, it is becoming harder on LinkedIn to stand out from the crowd. With storytelling in mind, here are my seven steps to tell your personal brand story on LinkedIn.

1. Create Dynamic Headlines

Much like storytelling, your personal brand story needs to make sense and persuade folks to read your profile. You can certainly use your current title; however, think about how someone potentially will search for you. Use keywords in your headline. For example, I highlight my broad range of marketing and communications skills, so my title is “Marketing Leader. Social Media Strategist. Communications and Public Relations. Speaker & Writer. Problem Solver.” Jot down your ideas in terms of these areas to highlight what you want to your brand to stand for.

2. Craft a Well-Rounded Summary

What areas or expertise do you want to highlight? Be Strategic. You can use your summary section from your resume, but be short and sweet. This section should be your online elevator pitch. The summary area is also a great place to post all your SlideShare presentations or other multimedia content that provides the social proof that you are a great asset.

Recently, LinkedIn made it easier to create the best keywords for your profile by allowing you to access your data archive. Viveka von Rosen, host to one of the largest Twitter chats about LinkedIn #LinkedInChat, wrote a blog post about how to use the export tool to improve organization’s marketing, but I believe you can also use it to improve the marketing of you.

3. Demonstrate Diversity in Your Experience

If you are the main character in your personal brand story, how will you support your central theme? For example, if I want to be known as a digital-marketing expert, how will I convey this information?

What do you want people to know? It’s more than listing your accomplishments and responsibilities. Think about how you would describe your coherent roles and how the roles relate to your overall goal or next career move. All your roles should have a purpose. LinkedIn job positions should show progression and that through the years you have deepened your knowledge in a specific area.

4. Sharpen Your Skills

Did you know that LinkedIn allows users to add up to 50 skills to their profiles? Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent LLC, mentioned in her Mashable interview that listing relevant skills helps candidates differentiate themselves from their competition, “Often LinkedIn profiles aren’t fully completed either because people are intimidated by the idea of writing a professional summary or aren’t skilled at effectively summarizing their experience. LinkedIn profiles should be viewed as a personal marketing brochure, and as such, they need to be concise, informative, and compelling.” Bottom line: Focus on your expertise, strengths, and skills to be more discoverable.

5. Spotlight your Thought Leadership

Earlier this year, LinkedIn opened up its publishing platform to all its members. This move allowed members to publish content to their profile and share it among their network. Amazing when you can share your ideas and thoughts, folks seek you out for advice and expertise. Huzzah! This is the secret that every PR professional knows works well to build authority: use your works such as presentations, speeches, and other informative content to get noticed.

5. Prove It with Projects

Highlight projects that show strong results. Rachel Gillett recently wrote about killer techniques to build an outstanding profile and shared that adding compelling projects to your profile can demonstrate experience relevant to your professional goals. This is great advice for seasoned professionals and students. The best part about projects is you can add contributors to projects, and your colleagues can share in the success both at work and online.

7. Support Your Awesomeness through Recommendations

Finished a successful project at work or school? Anyone with whom you have worked in the past should be on the short list to vouch for your talents. Adam Nash, president of Wealthfront, wrote on LinkedIn’s blog about the importance of recommendations, “In this economy, more than ever, people are realizing that the most important assets they have are the skills and experiences they have earned, and the trusted relationships they have formed. LinkedIn Recommendations bring liquidity and transparency to the reputation economy.”

Final Thoughts on Telling Your Brand Story on LinkedIn

Storytelling is about persuading and entertaining your audience. To cut through the noise, you need to differentiate yourself from others on LinkedIn – and telling your brand story helps.

JobActionDay.com: Job Action Day 2014

This article is part of Job Action Day 2014.

Social Media Strategist Rachel DiCaro Metscher

Rachel DiCaro Metscher is responsible for helping her clients create content that adds value, maximizes results, and contributes to the conversation as the director of content marketing at ICF International. A champion of clear and concise communications, she has worked for The Princeton Review, Fannie Mae, and other B2B software companies to build successful marketing programs. You can hear about her musings on PR, social media, content marketing on her blog, Metscher’s Musings. Rachel is a conference speaker and writer on social media and content marketing and has written for American Marketing Association Marketing News, Social Media Today, and MarketingProfs.

Develop Your Personal-Brand Story in 5 Easy Steps

Guest Post by Walter Akana

Perhaps the most important lesson of my life is this: there is a big difference between being alive and truly living … I started my career working my way up the corporate rungs … Yet, I was missing work and life balance. So, I transferred to Boulder… [and] joined the Colorado Mountain Club where I discovered my bliss! The moment I touched the rock I knew I would spend my life climbing.

I scaled 22,494 foot Ama Dablam, and then Everest as member of the Climb for Peace team in 2006.

… Life has also taught me everyone has their Everest, and can use the support of others to overcome challenges. So, … I founded Beyond Everest, to deliver inspiring programs to motivate individuals and teams to reach peak performance … [and] feel more fully alive! – Tonya (Riggs) Clement

personal brand story There is no shortage of advice on how to create your personal brand statement, including templates to follow. Yet, there is probably little real differentiation in approach. Worse, most advice does little to help you uncover and share what truly connects you and your audience. For that connection, you need to know and share your story. If you’re not certain what a story is, and how to uncover and convey it in a captivating way, read on.

Five Keys to Get You Started on Developing Your Story

1. Make a meaningful emotional connection by knowing for whom you’re telling your story.

Whatever your business, you’re likely focused on specific niche audience for whom you need to be relevant. So, consider who makes up your brand community and what connects you to them. Take into account their interests, aspirations, and cultural connections, and even the oddities you share that are the basis for emotional bonds. Today, real opportunity, according to Seth Godin, in We Are All Weird, “…is to support the weird, to sell to the weird and, if you wish, to become weird.” Your story needs to show that you “get it.”

2. Don’t rely on communications tools that are not designed to convey story.

Bios and resumes, traditionally used to substantiate your value, are rarely compelling, or memorable. Aside from the barrier posed by reverse chronology, they generally convey only accomplishments, often using business jargon. Because they can seem abstract and even boring, they almost guarantee a sense of sameness that keeps you from standing out. In developing your story, think “one upon a time.” Start with formative experiences that made you who you are, and qualify you to serve your community. Make sure, in documenting your career/life journey, to include the missteps and transitions that formed you.

[Editor’s note: See these articles that discuss how to deploy storytelling a resume: Every Resume Tells a Story, Storytelling on a Resume: A Recruiter’s Perspective, and Polish Your Resume Like a Pro: 7 Tips Any Job-Seeker Can Use.]

3. Tell a real story that draws in your audience, while making you authentic – and human.

Because something is about you doesn’t mean it’s your story. As Lisa Cron, author of Wired for Story, points out, “A story is how what happens affects someone who is trying to achieve what turns out to be a difficult goal, and how he or she changes as a result.” In your story, you are that someone, and where you are today is the result of having dealt with or overcome conflicts, doubts, turning points, and even flaws. So, your story needs to include examples of how you persevered in the face of uncertainty, adversity, or risk – and ideally examples that your audience will identify with. These make you human and authentic, and enhance your chances of establishing an emotional connection.

4. Make sure your story conveys a clear theme that shows what you stand for.

While events move your story forward, the true backbone of your story – what anchors the value that you bring to others – is your theme. Theme, according to Lisa Cron, “…defines what is possible and what isn’t in the world the story unfolds in.” So, dig beneath your experiences to uncover the values and beliefs that drive your vision for what is possible — and what you bring to your work. Your theme is your why, and it’s what fuels the difference you make for the people you serve.

5. Make your story something your audience owns.

Stories are not one-way self-promotion. So, keep “your” story focused on what’s essential to your audience. After all, cognitive research shows the reason people pay attention to stories is to learn vicariously through the experience of the people in them. If your audience learns from you, a real person, you become more memorable, and your audience becomes more interested in actually meeting, getting to know, and working with you!

Final Thoughts on Developing Your Brand Story

Your story is the ultimate differentiator — because it’s yours! Take the time to uncover and share it.

For more information, see also this section of Quintessential Careers:

JobActionDay.com: Job Action Day 2014


This article is part of Job Action Day 2014.

Walter Akana is a career and life strategist, who brings a unique blend of training and experience in coaching, personal branding, and online identity to guide mid-career professionals and executives who want to stand out from the crowd. Walter is a trusted resource for clients of Reach Communications and Right Management. His career advice has been featured on marketwatch.com, cnnmoney.com, and online.wsj.com. A social media early adopter, he and his advice have been referenced in Smart Networking, I’m on LinkedIn, Now What?, Find a Job Through Social Networking, The Twitter Job Search Guide, and Social Networking for Career Success. Find Walter at his WebsiteSuccess Reimagined.

How to Craft Stories for Job Interviews

Guest Post by Bill Burnett

Excerpted and adapted from: The Peak Interview, CreateSpace, 2013.

Stories provide the fabric into which you will weave relevant competencies and personal characteristics. It is far more credible to allow a competency to emerge in the narrative of a story than to make the claim of a competency. A story, in which you play the role of a perceptive team leader is far more credible than making the claim: “I’m a good team leader.”

In crafting these stories, follow the Made to Stick model created by Chip and Dan Heath: S.U.C.C.E.S (Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Story). I encourage you to get their book and read it. I think you will find it very helpful in creating great stories.

The juice in a story is its unexpectedness. You build that in with your opening. Unexpectedness is why we like jokes so much. We know something unexpected will happen at the end. That’s important for a well-crafted story (see Unexpectedness below).

Overall, keep it simple. You want to be both concrete and credible as you weave your competencies and characteristics into the narrative. If you are a gifted storyteller, you may be able to create emotions in your listeners.You don’t want to lose control of your own emotions. However, showing passion is a good thing.

Keep the story short. I find that a story is longer when I tell it than when I write it. Time yourself actually telling the story. Generally, unless the story is truly outstanding and you’re a great storyteller, keep it to less than two minutes if you can.

Your Starting Point: an Outline

You want to be able to tell this story from active memory. Some people need to write the entire narrative of a story to feel they will be able to tell it well in an interview. If you need to write down the entire story, do so. But start with an outline.

If you don’t need to write down the entire story, don’t. The story will come from your active memory. In other words, don’t memorize the text. But do start with an outline. The outline ensures your story contains the right elements needed for the job interview.

You may use a format like the following to outline the story:

  • Story Name
  • Problem or Opportunity
  • Players
  • Action
  • Result
  • Competencies
  • Characteristics
  • Unexpectedness

Character and Competencies

Below are the top six competencies and the top six characteristics, generally relevant to most job openings. During personal job search you may identify other competencies and characteristics that are more relevant for your particular job search. Stories can often thread several competencies and several characteristics simultaneously.

Competencies Character
Leadership Honest
Problem Solving Passionate
Teamwork Self-condident
Management Motivated
Communication Reliable
Customer Focused Efficient

In every case, story telling should use the active voice and avoid using the passive voice.

PASSIVE: “She was promoted by me on the spot.”
ACTIVE: “I promoted her on the spot.”


The hardest part of story telling is building in the “unexpectedness.” You want to arouse interest in the listener and create anticipation. A simple way to do that is to start by identifying where that unexpectedness may lay hidden. It could be with the people involved, the action, or the result. For example:

  • The people involved included an unusual character.
  • A surprising person made a key contribution.
  • The action taken was unusual.
  • A side-effect was unanticipated, but turned out to be important.
  • The result of the action was surprising.
  • Pursued one direction and ended up taking a different one.

Usually you would try to set up the anticipation within the first two sentences. In answer to the What’s your greatest weakness question, I start with: “I have a weakness for ice cream. I know it doesn’t sound like something that would impact my job, but it did.” The listener now wants to know how ice cream has this impact. The actual story doesn’t really answer the weakness question, but let’s face it, it’s a stupid question, nobody expects you to say, “When I drink, I gamble.”

You can build anticipation by starting with a phrase like: “You wouldn’t expect that by simply changing how you describe what you’re currently doing would have a $2 billion dollar impact on the bottom line, but that’s exactly what happened.” Or start with something like “We thought that we had the best-in-class method for handling risk, but we learned the truth from the most unlikely source…”

Final Thoughts on Crafting Interview Stories

Put in the effort to have about a dozen stories in your arsenal. You will probably only use four or five stories in the interview. But it helps to have several so you can pull out the right story for the right circumstance.

For more information, see also these sections of Quintessential Careers:

JobActionDay.com: Job Action Day 2014




This article is part of Job Action Day 2014.

Bill BurnettBill Burnett is author of The Peak Interview, which gives job-seekers the psychological techniques to be the person the hiring manager likes the most because that’s the person who gets the job. Today, Bill is working in Milwaukee as the Director of Global Cities Initiative, working on this Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase joint project to double exports. He has a wealth of international experience having lived in six countries outside the USA and worked with local teams in all sorts of cultural settings in more than 60 additional countries. At Diners Club International, Bill spent 10 years as Senior Vice President, Global Operation, and another 5 as Senior Vice President Strategic Initiatives. Bill also worked for the US Forest Service, Pittsburgh National Bank, Bank of America, Textron, and Citigroup. He is author of three books and numerous articles.


Storytelling to Ace the Job Interview

Guest Post by Russ Hovendick

Are you memorable?

You may be asking why this characteristic is important. Let’s step into the interviewer’s shoes for a minute. Yes, the employer has a need, but the hiring manager wants to make sure that the hire is a great fit for the organization. He or she even would love to hire a veteran. Well, I’m a veteran; why wouldn’t they hire me, you ask yourself. But, I would challenge you to ask yourself why the employer should hire you.

The interviewer has just interviewed 10 people prior to interviewing you. All the other candidates stated that they were dedicated, accountable, and hard workers. Suddenly, all candidates quickly became a blur. Now, in you walk, ready to declare that you, too, are dedicated, accountable, and a hard worker.

InterviewStoryDoes this scenario have a familiar ring? Unfortunately, this pattern is followed by the majority of military and civilian job-seekers, with very limited success.

What’s missing? Your story – the “You Factor” and, the very thing that will set you apart from your completion, if presented correctly.

The old adage that facts tell, but stories sell, is true in sales world, and it certainly holds true in interviewing world, too. Yes, your resume is impressive, but it’s only words, and only you can bring it to life by capturing your audience.

You may say that you have led a group of 30 soldiers. True, but just a fact. Now, let’s introduce the “You Factor.” This time you say:

I have the unique ability to capture the hearts of the people I am leading, instill in them the importance of the part they play in the overall success of our effort, and to engage them in a manner that creates within them a desire to reach goals they never thought possible.

Then you proceed to give a very quick narrative of a success that you attained through the people that you have led.

Powerful stuff, but it will take effort on your part to prepare so that you have your story on the tip of your tongue. For each additional point or characteristic that you want to demonstrate, use the same format, introducing a very short story, demonstrating success in each area you want to  cover.

Let me provide an example of a veteran that I worked with who at first claimed to not have a story to tell. He had been on 17 interviews and not one had produced a positive result. I suggested that he probably wasn’t connecting and that he needed to tell his story. He said that he really didn’t have a story and that he was just a grunt. I mentioned to him that everyone has a story and I that I was confident that he had one, too.

After probing, I found that as a teenager, he had lived on the streets and had numerous run-ins with authorities. Even though he was on the streets and had dropped out of school, he felt that he was better than his circumstances. While being pursued to join a gang, he chose to pursue an education instead and received his GED. He also started reading self-improvement books. To benefit himself further, he chose to join the military and raised himself to the rank of platoon sergeant. I asked what he was proudest of. He replied that he brought every one of his guys back from Iraq. Not letting his story end there, I asked what efforts he took to make this safe return happen. He said that he was tough on his guys and quizzed them constantly on preparedness issues and responses. I then asked him how his troops responded. He said that at first they thought he was a jerk – until they had a life-and-death incident.

One of the precautions he drilled them on so many times saved many lives. I then asked what they thought of him then. He started to cry and said they loved him; in fact his troops drilled these very same things into new members of his unit. He said that when he leads, he leads with every ounce of fiber within his soul, and people believe and follow.

Bingo! I was sold and so was the next employer that I had him interview with.

Final Thoughts on Sharing Your Success Stories

Sharing your story brings to life who you really are and makes you memorable in the eyes of your interviewer. Now you have separated yourself from your competition using the power of storytelling.

For more information, see also these sections of Quintessential Careers:

Russ HRuss Hovendick is president of Client Staffing Solutions, Inc., a national search and placement firm specializing in the food and beverage industry. He has been a national award-winner within the recruiting and placement industry. He is also founder of Directional Motivation, a Website providing no-cost materials to help people advance their careers, with a special section devoted to transitioning veterans seeking civilian employment. He has authored three books: Deployment to Employment, How to Interview, and How to Get a Raise. He is also a frequent guest on Radio and Television programs and has been quoted in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, GX Magazine, Military Times, Woman’s World Magazine, Reuters, NFIB, Career Builder, and Yahoo.

JobActionDay.com: Job Action Day 2014




This article is part of Job Action Day 2014.

Tell and Share Your Profile Story

Guest Post by Nancy J. Miller

Your career is the story of your personal life, education, training, and work. You choose what parts of your story to share. Your profile is the career story you want to share with colleagues, customers, clients, or friends.

A profile in the context we are discussing, according to Merriam Webster online, is “a representation of something in outline.” Your profile is a representation of you. It is the story you want to tell about yourself. Your profile puts you in charge of your story.

Your profile is an outline of you, your interests, and accomplishments. Creating your profile is fun and easy when you know what to say, you
know your audience, and you know where you want to share it.

Know What You Want to Say About Yourself

  • Make a list of accomplishments you are proud of and skills you want to use.
  • Create your career-success portfolio.
    • Find awards, thank-you notes, degrees, training certificates, publications, media coverage, etc. Your items may be the actual papers, copies, or lists.
    • Put your credentials in a binder to create your personal portfolio.
    • Take out anything that doesn’t fill you with delight.
    • Revisit your accomplishments list now that you have a picture of your career success story in front of you. (You can learn more about
      creating a portfolio full of your strengths and accomplishments in the book,
      Fire Up Your Profile For LifeWork Success.)
  • Write down examples of your values and interests. For example you might say, “I value the outdoors and have an interest in hiking and paddling.”

One of the best ways to connect with someone is by telling them your interests and see what you have in common or what they find fascinating about you. For example I asked someone who connected with me on Linkedin what her interests were. She said one of her interests was canoeing with the alligators. She helps women over 55 with their careers, and she is very adventurous. She is someone I watch on Linkedin because we share career interests and both love the water.

Write Your Profile Story

  • Include your strengths, values, interests, and experience.
  • Prioritize your story ensuring you are stating the most important and interesting aspects first.
  • Write your story.

Once you have written out your profile you have the information you need to share when you network, write a letter of introduction, resume, or social-media profile. You will share different parts of your profile with different audiences. Get to know your audience, and you will know what gets  their attention.

Share Your Profile

  • Social media
  • Networking
  • Resume
  • Letter of introduction/Cover letter
  • Website “About” page
  • Personal business plan

Your profile is an effective marketing tool for your business or job search. Using social media to build relationships takes time and planning, but there is no financial cost and there are many rewards.

Test Your Profile on Social Media

  • You choose your purpose, your audience, and what you want to say.
  • You can test drive your profile on social media on various platforms: a profile on LinkedIn, an album on Pinterest, pictures on Instagram, and much more.
  • You can try out your story in different ways until you get the response you want from the audience you want to hear from.
  • Use social media, preferably with a career professional to assist you, as a tutor for creating a powerful profile. It is fun to share, switch things
    around, add and subtract information, and see what responses you get.

You gain confidence when you share your story on social media. You can now write a headline on LinkedIn that is your one liner to use when networking or describing your work. Try out various descriptions. You can adjust your Linkedin settings so that you choose whether or not you share each of your changes with your connections.

Once you test and approve your profile, choose which parts to use for creating your Website “About” page (you now know how to say who you are), resume (you will already have a list of most important skills and experience), your cover letter (you thought about your interests and know what is unique about you), personal business-plan summary (you know who you are and what you have to offer your customer or client).

Outcomes from Having a Fired Up Profile

You will be preparing to:

  • Say who you are and what you do.
  • Widen your network of friends and colleagues.
  • Get new ideas for business and projects.
  • Broaden your global perspective.
  • Grab opportunities to sell products/services.
  • Connect with people to collaborate with, hire for projects, and find jobs.
  • Find ways to do good for people and/or the environment.

Final Thoughts on Your Profile as Your Story

Many have told your story for you including parents, teachers, employers, and possibly even media. You might be very pleased with the coverage of you by others, but when you know how to tell your story your way, you not only gain confidence, you also highlight the picture of you that you want your audience to see. You will be amazed at the results when you learn to create and use your fired up profile.

Finally, if you need additional help, go to Fire Up Your Profile.

For more information, see also these sections of Quintessential Careers:

This article is part of Job Action Day 2014.

Nancy Miller is a LifeWork Creativity Coach at Creative LifeWork Design. She is author of the book, Fire Up Your Profile For LifeWork Success. Her new book, Vegetable Kids in the Garden will be out later in 2014. With a master’s degree in counseling with a career specialization, Nancy uses a holistic, practical approach to coaching entrepreneurs, professionals, and writers to create business and career success in harmony with their values. Contact Nancy at success(at)nancyjmiller.solutions, connect with her on Linkedin, and visit her website.

To Energize Job Search, Ditch Those Outdated, Unfounded, and Easily Rewritten Stories You Tell Yourself

Guest post by Wendy Terwelp

“Who are we but the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and believe?”

– Scott Turow, Ordinary Heroes.

In fact, we sell ourselves on these stories, even when they are not true, are outdated, unfounded, and easily rewritten. And these negative stories can be tremendously detrimental to our careers.

What Do These Stories Sound Like?

I’m too… busy, overqualified, under-qualified, old, young, fat, thin, angry, shy, depressed, ashamed I lost my job…

I can’t because… it’s not the right time, I’m not ready, I won’t know anyone, my childhood was terrible, I have health issues, I can’t afford it, I’m a CEO and I don’t want to ask for help…

They… won’t let me, won’t reimburse me, said I couldn’t, said so, said it’s not in the budget, said I’m too…

Do any of these phrases resonate with you?

Take a closer look at what’s impeding your progress. How real are these stories you’re selling yourself? Are they still relevant? What is the real truth? Break them down and kick these stories you’ve sold yourself to the curb.

Uncover the Truth About Your Story

One executive told me she couldn’t get advanced training because “they won’t let me.”

“What’s the real truth?” I asked her. “They won’t let me” was not the truth because I knew others at her company had earned advanced degrees.

“I don’t have the time, and they won’t reimburse me,” she said.

“How badly do you want it?” This particular training would benefit my client’s ultimate career goal and add leverage toward a promotion.

She thought about things for a while and said, “You’re right. I really do want it. I guess I can make the time, and I can write off the training on my taxes, so I’m really not out that much.”

Bottom-line, my client made the choice to earn the designation and, through our coaching, landed a promotion with a salary bump.

Our Stories, and How We Believe in Them, Can Hold Us Back or Drive us Forward

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

An engineer was downsized after 20+ years. It was devastating and he was angry about the situation. Additionally, relatives told him he was too old and shouldn’t have his expectations too high about getting another management job at his age.

Through our coaching work, he decided it was best to move forward, leaving anger and resentment behind. He was less concerned than his relatives about his age, and the action step he took was to see less of those relatives while in career-search mode. His new attitude and proactive approach enabled him to dive in and learn new ways to search for a new gig. He learned social media and made many connections on LinkedIn; he picked up the phone and revived his network; and he landed several interviews. As a result, he could choose which offer to accept. He chose a company and role that was not only a higher-level position and salary than before, but also with a global company that offered more opportunities.

Good News: We can Rewrite Our Stories

Despite what has happened to us in our past, we are still here.

In How to Rewire Your Brain for Success, author Geoffrey James wrote, “Rather than video playback, human memory is more like video editing. When you remember something, you are recreating, changing, and re-memorizing. The memory is subject to change every time you remember it.”

That means you can edit your bad memories and strengthen your good memories. You can rewrite your stories.

Two ways to start building your new stories: keep a success journal or Me File. Start tracking your hits – both personal and professional. Track what you are thankful and grateful for each day. Some days it might be as simple as, “I’m thankful I woke up today.” Other days it might be, “Wow! I am so grateful I got a standing ovation after my presentation today!” Identify and document at least one hit/success and one grateful/thankful-for item each day.

Final Thoughts on Creating Your (New) Story

Work on creating your new story, a story that reflects how you wish to be perceived. I’m working on my latest edition. I look forward to hearing about yours.

Wendy© 2014 Wendy Terwelp, author, speaker, executive coach. Wendy Terwelp is president of Opportunity Knocks, and author of Rock Your Network®.  She was named one of Quintessential Careers’ Top 15 Career Masterminds and her Infoline, “Jumpstart Your Job Search and Get Hired Faster” was included in the Association for Talent Development’s  2014 ASTD Best on Career Development anthology. Follow her on Twitter @wendyterwelp.

JobActionDay.com: Job Action Day 2014

This article is part of Job Action Day 2014.

Strengthen Your Job Search through Storytelling

Guest Post by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

Want to push your job-search techniques to a higher level – even if only passively looking for a new job? Use the power of storytelling to frame your accomplishments, sharpen your career brand, enhance your LinkedIn profile, enrich your resume, refine your networking, and improve your job-interview responses.

Developing a powerful – and uniform – narrative that interweaves throughout all your job-search tools will help you produce a consistent and compelling message to prospective employers.

Why is story so powerful? Because people remember stories. We don’t remember a series of facts or accomplishments, but when they are included in a story, we remember the core of the story – the theme of the story.

Your main goal, then, is to decide on the theme of your story. Your theme should come from your accomplishments, so start your storytelling process there.

Develop a list of your major career accomplishments – and find the main theme, the main narrative of your story. Your theme will be unique to your
experiences, but here are some examples:

  • The revenue-enhancer
  • The cost-saver
  • The brilliant strategist
  • The inspiring leader
  • The team player
  • The consistent performer

How Story Can Enhance Your Job-Hunting


We have hammered this point in other articles on our site, but the KEY starting point for building a successful job-search starts with fully understanding and articulating your accomplishments. Accomplishments vary by job, of course, and can range from something as simple as having a 100 percent safety record to masterminding the turnaround of a floundering organization.

Your first step is identifying your accomplishments. Use our Accomplishments Worksheet.

Your second step is turning these accomplishments into compelling stories. Read: 3 Steps to Storytelling Success in Your Job Search. Then, see some examples in this article about accomplishment stories. For additional help with accomplishments, go to our Career-Job-Work Accomplishments Resources for Enhancing Next Job Search, Promotion.

Career Brand

What can you offer a prospective employer? That’s your career brand. Your career brand is a promise of quality/expertise that you deliver – and will deliver to a prospective employer. Your career brand should help set you apart from other job-seekers.

Your first step is to learn more about career branding. Use this article: Career Branding Basics: What, How, Why. A Primer for Job-Seekers.

Your second step is developing a story that encompasses your career brand. Learn more in this article: What’s Your Career Brand Story?

LinkedIn Profile

Not all job-seekers need a LinkedIn account, but certainly all professionals should have one. LinkedIn has become a powerful job-seeker tool for uncovering information, building a network of contacts, and for learning of job opportunities. Many recruiters use LinkedIn as a tool for scouting potential.

Your first step is learning more about why you should not only develop a LinkedIn profile, but why you should immerse yourself into your LinkedIn profile. Start with this article: 5 Tips for Using LinkedIn During Your Job Search.

Your second step is developing a compelling narrative for your LinkedIn profile. Learn more in this article: Seven Steps to Tell Your Personal Brand Story on LinkedIn.


As your most important job-search tool, your resume has to share a consistent narrative with your other job-hunting tools while telling a story compelling enough to convince a hiring manager to schedule an interview with you.

Your first step: If you need help starting or revising your resume, start here with our large collection of Resume Resources and Tools for Job-Seekers, including our article, How to Write a Great Resume: A Short Guide for Job-Seekers.

Your second step – once your resume includes all your key accomplishments – is to storify it. Read: Every Resume Tells a Story and Storytelling in Your Resume: Why and How.


Story plays several roles with networking – from having a memorable story that network contacts can use to recommend you for jobs to having an engaging Elevator Speech Story for when meeting new networking contacts.

Your first step, especially if new to networking, is to review the power of networking in job-search. Start with one or more of these career networking articles.

Your second step is incorporating story into your networking activities. Read: Tell Your Story: For Job, Promotion, Business Success.

Interview Responses

Job-interview responses need to engage the listener, relate to the question asked, make an emotional connection, and be memorable. Facts and statistics are quickly forgotten. Developing short accomplishment stories – and other stories in response to typical interview questions – will not only help you be better prepared for your next job interview, but also make it easier for the interviewer to know, understand, and remember your career brand and major accomplishments.

Your first step is maximizing your understanding of the interview process and developing a list of commonly asked interview questions. Find these interview questions – and much more – in our Guide to Job Interviewing Resources and Tools.

Your second step involves incorporating your brand narrative into the stories you develop for your interview responses. Remember, while you do not want to memorize your interview responses, you DO want to have a story you can pull from your memory to use when responding to interview  questions. Read: Creating Interview Stories.

Final Thoughts on How Storytelling Strengthens Your Job-Search

The human brain – since the beginning of time – has been hard-wired for stories and storytelling. Families pass important family history from one generation to another in the form of story. Story awakens something in our brains and emotions, and the job-seekers who use stories to showcase their career brand and accomplishments create strong connections with their listeners – and are the job-seekers who are remembered.

Finally, remember the basics of good career storytelling. Your stories should be short – a minute or two – and have a beginning, middle, and end. Each story must be engaging, with an emphasis on the result you achieved, the accomplishment you attained. Don’t get bogged down in details; if the interviewer has been hooked, s/he will ask follow-up questions that allow you to provide all the relevant information.

QuintCareers.com Founder Dr. Randall HansenDr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

JobActionDay.com: Job Action Day 2014

This article is part of Job Action Day 2014.

Achieve Storytelling Success in Your Job Search through These 3 Steps

Guest Post by Laura Labovich

The best storytellers have one thing in common: they rarely wing it. And, once you have learned the formula for a great speed-networking pitch (in just three easy steps), you won’t have to wing it, either.

Let’s take a look at the three steps that can make your networking pitch stand out with stories of your most successful moments.

Step 1: Uncover Your “Greatest Hits”

Many people struggle to identify their accomplishments because they see those peaks as “just part of their job.” To get your ideas flowing, you have to banish those thoughts. All bets are off, and all answers are good ones. To sell yourself and (perhaps more importantly) encourage someone to continue speaking with you in the first place, you must first formulate a list of career “greatest hits” (think 80’s mixed tape!) and how you saved the day, solved the problem or served the client in your current or previous jobs.

The Five O’Clock Club generated the ridiculously effective The Seven Stories Exercise (pdf) to rev up your accomplishment engine and get you to pinpoint your successes with ease.

Start by writing down your top seven most satisfying experiences. (In this case, they should be mostly professional.) Each of these accomplishments should meet the following criteria:

  • You were happy when you did it;
  • You thought you did it well (so, it wasn’t a fluke);
  • You experienced a sense of accomplishment.

Here are some examples:

  • Digitized the entire patient history in my office
  • Redesigned the quarterly newsletter to include member interviews
  • Navigated through Italy without a translator

Step 2: Challenge -> Action -> Result (CAR)

After you’ve written down your accomplishments, it’s time to format them in a way that breathes some life into the story. What was the challenge? What action did you take? What was the result?

Here are some examples.

Challenge: Oversaw 70 upgrades across all departments after epic system shutdown shaved two weeks off allotted time

Action: Called for all hands on deck, delegated responsibilities and implemented planned course of action

Result: Accurately completed upgrade in a third of the time originally scheduled

Challenge: Raise test results by 10 percent to maintain school funding

Action: Developed school-wide initiative to incentivize tutoring for both teachers and students

Result: Reached average increases of 15 percent with 6th grade topping at 24 percent. Maintained funding and raised the standard for years to come.

Challenge: Remodel outdated communications system at traditional company with minimal budget

Action: Researched most efficient channels with free applications and best results

Result: Increased email subscription by 15 percent and social-media followers 150 percent in under three months

Step 3: Create your pitch

Now it’s time to craft a winning Speed Networking Pitch. Use this formula below to take the guess-work out of yours so you can begin using it quicker!

 “As a [job title], I work with [share target audience] to [share a problem you solve]. And here’s the proof [tell a specific story].”

Here are some guidelines to help you stay on track, intrigue your audience and nail your speed networking pitch.

    • Keep it simple. Don’t say in 20 words what you can say in one. You have about 30 seconds to get your point across. Each word you choose to say takes up valuable real estate in your listeners’ minds. (Don’t make them want to go freshen their drink!)
    • Drop the jargon. Everyone knows the corporate buzzwords – “holistic,” “facilitate,” “move forward!” This, however, is
      not the time to use them. People want to hear an authentic overview of your expertise, not a keyword-heavy speech that feels
      scripted and confusing.
    • It’s in the present. This story depicts what you continuously do, not what you’ve previously done!
  • Make it about the client. Rather than talking about your accomplishments, design your stories to highlight how you made things better FOR YOUR CLIENT. This last piece is the key. It’s not about you. This client focus (or employer focus) is what makes this pitch exercise different from the others you’ll find. The best way to distinguish yourself is to showcase proven results of your work and how the business benefited.

Here are some examples.

[As a Public-Relations Specialist] I work with [serious product developers who have been in business for five years or more] who are looking to [fine-tune and/or rev up their public-relations engine and start landing some media coverage on national scale]. [Recently, I helped my client land a 1/2 page feature in the Washingtonian Magazine and, as a result, he is now in discussions with X company to sell the app for $1.3M].

[As a project manager at a credit union] I work with [a team of financial and technical experts] to [develop and rigorously test new products and services]. [Last month, my team launched a hugely anticipated line of corporate banking, which has already led to a 23 percent increase in business and billable accounts.]

I work with [small to medium-sized non-profits who specialize in women and children] who need help [blending photography, graphics, and text to attract demographics and prompting consumers to use their service. [Recently, I collaborated with the Coalition for Women and Children to rebrand their marketing collateral, which doubled traffic at their table at the Taste of Bethesda last weekend – unique booth visitors grew from 350 to 700 in two days!]

And, just for fun, here’s my own:

As a [Job Search Coach], I work with [job seekers who are struggling in their search, sending out resumes and/or not getting interviews] and I [teach them a proven job search methodology that enables them to stop spinning their wheels, and shave months off their job  search]. Just last week, I helped a job-seeker [return to the workforce after a near fatal car accident and a 12-year hiatus. She’s so empowered and excited to start her new life].

Final Thoughts on Storytelling Success and Networking

After you’ve decided which accomplishments you want to demonstrate, diversify your arsenal to create an unstoppable repertoire of stories. It’s important to have a few on hand so you can tailor them to suit your audience.

And last but not least, practice! If it makes you feel uncomfortable to say it, don’t! And if you wouldn’t use a word in real life, it sure as heck does not belong in your pitch. Natural, authentic storytelling is what we’re after here. Now, it’s your turn.

Laura M. Labovich is a former Disney recruiter, award-winning resume writer and Chief Executive Officer of The Career Strategy Group, an outplacement firm that provides a powerful methodology that empowers job seekers to LAND A JOB FASTER! Laura’s contagious enthusiasm and proven strategy have garnered attention such national news outlets such as The Washington Post, Fox News, NBC, USA Today, Sirius XM, and more. Laura is the co-author of 100 Conversations for Career Success (LearningExpress, 2012), a FORBES 2013 top career book selection. She is also the author of a robust online job search course called HIRED! (Pearson, 2014).

JobActionDay.com: Job Action Day 2014

This article is part of Job Action Day 2014.