Common Characteristics of Stories that Get People Hired

Count A. Harrison Barnes among career gurus who support storytelling in the job search. Harrison, founder and CEO of, the parent company of more than 100 job search websites, employment services, recruiting firms, online employment news magazines and student loan companies, characterizes the stories of those who get hired in his article, Use Personal Stories to Connect with an Employer and Get a Job:

There are some common characteristics of stories that get people hired, which I want to share with you so you can understand the entire process. The best stories typically revolve around the employee being very motivated to do a good job and continually wanting to improve in his or her employment. The person is generally portrayed as someone who works hard, has a positive attitude, is loyal, and, due to forces entirely outside his or her control, can no longer grow in his or her position or company. When the story is developed correctly, each job move is shown as part of this quest for continual self-improvement. A well-written story will also detail the candidate’s daily life. It will mention his or her family and friends, so that the prospective employer can come to identify with the candidate as a person.

storyworker.jpg Barnes handily summarizes his full article:

  • When an employer hires you, he or she is making a purchase of sorts.
  • The more information the employer has about you, the more (positive) stories that they can associate with you after your interview.
  • Stories create a connection.
  • You should portray yourself as someone who works hard, has a positive attitude, is loyal, and, due to forces entirely outside your control, can no longer grow in your current position or company.

[Thanks to Wendy Terwelp for alerting me to Barnes’s article.]

A Storied Career

A Storied Career explores intersections/synthesis among various forms of
Applied Storytelling:
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A Storied Career's scope is intended to appeal to folks fascinated by all sorts of traditional and postmodern uses of storytelling. Read more ...
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Dr. Kathy Hansen

Kathy Hansen, PhD, is a leading proponent of deploying storytelling for career advancement. She is an author and instructor, in addition to being a career guru. More...


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The following are sections of A Storied Career where I maintain regularly updated running lists of various items of interest to followers of storytelling:


Links below are to Q&A interviews with story practitioners.

The pages below relate to learning from my PhD program focusing on a specific storytelling seminar in 2005. These are not updated but still may be of interest:

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