Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling to Get Jobs and Propel Your Career is available for Kindle.


Find it here for $9.60.

The companion Tell Me MORE About Yourself: A Workbook to Develop Better Job-Search Communication through Storytelling is also available as a Kindle edition for $2.99, same price as the PDF version.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

Companion Workbook Is Here!

I have met my self-imposed deadline to complete Tell Me MORE About Yourself: A Workbook to Develop Better Job-Search Communication through Storytelling by today. (The plan was to offer it by the end of summer; I settled for the first day of fall.)


You can check out the table of contents here: TellMeMoreContents.pdf

I’m selling the workbook for the low, low, low, low price of $2.99 (!!!) through Google Checkout. Here’s the link.

The workbook is intended as a companion to my 2009 book, Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling to Get Jobs and Propel Your Career. It is both an update and extension of that book.

In the time since Tell Me About Yourself was published, I’ve learned an enormous amount and gained many new ideas and insights (most of them reported here in this blog) about using story in job search and career from colleagues in the storytelling, career, and marketing sectors. This workbook offers a way to expand on the ideas and concepts of Tell Me About Yourself.

The workbook also provides a way for users to implement the ideas and concepts in a practical, hands-on way. Since Tell Me About Yourself was published, readers have asked such questions as:

  • How do you tell a good story in the job search?
  • How do you find your stories?
  • How can my stories have the most impact?

Thus, this workbook is intended as the nitty-gritty how-to that goes beyond the concepts and examples in Tell Me About Yourself.

Do you need to have read Tell Me About Yourself to benefit from the workbook? I would recommend it so you understand the principles and benefits of storytelling in the job search. But you don’t necessarily have to buy a copy. A free earlier edition is online. Anytime I refer users to Tell Me About Yourself in the workbook, I give the page numbers from the print edition and the Web address of the online edition.

The workbook follows some of the content of Tell Me About Yourself closely, especially in story development, resumes, cover letters, and interviewing. I felt the content of Tell Me About Yourself was largely sufficient in explaining story concepts in areas such as networking, personal branding, portfolios, and workplace storytelling; thus, the workbook touches on them only briefly or not at all.

The workbook also adds a new content area that was not in Tell Me About Yourself at all. The entire first chapter is devoted to using story to help users determine a career path.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

This post is intended to illuminate Exercise 4.A.2 in Tell Me MORE About Yourself: A Workbook to Develop Better Job-Search Communication through Storytelling by providing examples of telling SAR/CAR/PAR stories backwards:

[Result] Ensured revenue flow that met payroll needs [Action] by initiating new distribution plan and advertiser incentives after Hurricane Katrina wiped out newspaper’s distribution channels.

[Result] Spearheaded retail chain’s most successful charity fundraising event — more money than had ever been raised by any store in the chain — [Action]by challenging staff to develop high-profile idea to help the community [Situation]after corporate office criticized store’s weak response to company commitment to giving back.

[Result] Cut turnover in half [Action]by conducting aggressive research, designing a system to track projects, and implementing leadership program to challenge workers [Situation]after lack of company growth resulted in huge turnover problem in technical staff.

[Result] Cut receiving time from two or three days to less than six hours from the time the truck hit the dock [Action] by completely overhauling stockroom organization [Situation] when holiday season resulted in double shipments and demanded a new process.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

How do you convince employers that you possess the skills required to perform a job you want — especially if you are changing careers and have not yet demonstrated your skills in your targeted career?

By telling stories about how you’ve effectively use those skills in other contexts. This article tells you why and how to do so.

For years, we’ve touted the idea of portraying skills as transferable on resumes, cover letters, and other job-search communications. In our article What Do Employers Really Want? Top Skills and Values Employers Seek from Job-Seekers, we present numerous resume bullet points eloquently describing skills (Example: “Flexible team player who thrives in environments requiring ability to effectively prioritize and juggle multiple concurrent projects.”) But even when a job-seeker uses articulate bullet points like these, he or she needs to support them with real evidence of having performed those skills in the past.

Meaningless lists of their transferable skills in job-search communications, in fact, are a major peeve of columnist Liz Ryan, who complains in an article on, that “people are not actually ambulatory sets of disembodied, abstract skills. Describing ourselves as packages of skills is about the worst way imaginable to get a hiring manager excited about us.”

Ryan protests that hiring managers have no reason to trust job-seekers when they say they possess certain transferable skills. A hiring manager’s concept of a given skill could be very different from that of the candidate claiming to possess that skill. The hiring manager has no way of know how a claimed skill will manifest itself in diverse situations. Perhaps worst of all, lists of transferable skills lack context.

The solution is to tell stories that put transferable skills in context and describe how the job-seeker deployed them. “We need powerful stories to convey our power, battle-tested and concrete, to the person who’s reading our resume,” Ryan says. Further:

Stories, in contrast to skills listings, are loaded with context. We’ll tell the reader about that business dragon we slew (a cost overrun in Production, or a drop-off in attendance at our teleseminars) with plenty of detail about the situation we faced as we brought that dragon down. That’s when our job-search pitch has power! … Trumpeting our fabulousness sans context, proof or relevance is a waste of time. Use your stories, instead, to make it clear how you’ve made a difference for your employers in the past.

And, author Alexandra Levit emphasizes that “the more drastic your reinvention, the more persuasive your story must be.”

Identifying Skills to Highlight in Your Stories
Here’s how to tell stories that demonstrate the skills that employers seek in the type of job and industry you’re targeting:

  • Identify a dozen or so Internet job postings that typify the kind of job you seek.
  • List keywords that describe the skills required for these jobs. See a list of skills and characteristics that employers typically seek.
  • Now, highlight all the skills keywords the job postings have in common and make a list of these frequently appearing skills. Another technique is to copy the text from one or more job postings you want to target and then create a “tag cloud,” using a tool such as TagCrowd or Wordle. The skills words that appear the largest in the tag cloud are the ones that should get the most emphasis in your skills stories. To see an illustration of this technique, check out this post on our Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tops Blog.
  • For each skill listed, compose a story that illustrates how you have successfully demonstrated that skill or characteristic in your career — or even in your personal life.
  • Be sure to compose stories that come from a variety of aspects of your life and career; don’t focus on just one job or extracurricular activity, for example. Draw your stories from fairly recent experience. Employers what to know what you’ve done lately that could benefit their organization.

Story-framing Devices with Examples
Keeping in mind that a successful story must be true and told in context, consider these ideas for story-framing so your collection of stories comes from various perspectives:

  • A time in your life when this skill was tested.
    Example: I solve problems every day in my job, but one recent example I had that truly tested my problem-solving skills involved a woman who called me to question why we refunded part of her premium to her. She’s a new policy-holder who was quoted $2,900 for an annual premium and paid that amount, but in the computer, her annual premium was about $2,500, so we refunded her the difference. My first hunch was she received a discount for paying in full, but when I calculated the discount percent, it was not adding up. After about two or three iterations of trying various combinations of discounts, I still was unable to figure out why the quote and actual premium were different and figured I was not looking for the right root cause. I decided to manually price her policy from the ground up, and during the process I happened to notice her birthday on her application was written ambiguously and could have been interpreted as 1925 or 1928. I calculated quotes for both ages and realized the reason for the difference. I honored the lower rate since the payment transactions were fully completed.
  • A time when you failed to live up to this skill and decided never to let it happen again.
    Example: My leadership skills were called into question by my first evaluation as a district manager. I was rated much lower than I had ever been rated. I realized that, after having been promoted into a new position, I needed to learn a lot more. Determined to never again get a low rating, I learned as much as I possibly could by taking seminars, attending training, and reading books and articles; this quest for knowledge became the driving force behind my attaining the high rating I achieved for this year.
  • A turning point in your development of this skill/characteristic.
    Example: As an undergrad, I took a course on argument and advocacy and learned a very important concept called Tooling Modeling, which is a logical way of thinking with three parts: claim, grounds, and warrant. The claim is your point; the grounds consists of your proof, evidence, or backing; and your warrant is your logical leap that connects the two. The theory is naturally a little more complicated than that, but this way of thinking has been my bible for rational thought and was the single most valuable lesson I learned in college. I use this way of thinking when I am presented with problems that require decisions. I structure a rational, logical argument for each likely outcome. I can therefore see where weaknesses exist, either in the grounds or the warrant. I conduct a bump-and-compare between arguments to see which are the strongest, and I go with the most durable argument. I also take a practical approach to decision making in that I try to find out best outcome for the least price or cost.
  • An example from your personal life (as opposed to career) of deploying this skill.
    Example: I realized I had solid problem-solving skills during my freshmen year after I went to the soup kitchen in Parkersburg to serve food to the less fortunate. I felt that I needed to do something more, so I had an idea that when everybody moved out of the dorms at the end of a semester, instead of throwing nonperishable food away, students could put it in a box, and I would take it to the local food bank so it could feed the poor. I ended up gathering about six carloads of canned and dry food that would have been thrown away.
  • Patterns that have emerged in your development of this skill.
    Example: I have learned that my role is to do work that makes a difference in people’s lives. For the first 20 years, I worked in television news, believing in the people’s right to know. For the past six years, I’ve been in education, helping teachers and their students. My ultimate goal is to be head of a department.
  • A strength or vulnerability from your past that led to developing this skill.
    Example: I have always had a fascination for how machines work, and whenever my family and I went on vacation, I would always try and get the window-seat on the plane, if only to watch the flaps and air-brakes in action during takeoff and landing. As I continued my education, I felt a compulsion to use my degree in a people-oriented profession. So, while I love machines, I’d like to contribute my engineering skills in a company that affects peoples’ lives positively. I just like helping people.

More Story-framing Devices

  • A movie/story/book/event that exemplifies this skill for you.
  • A person/event in your life that taught you the importance of this skill.
  • A story of using this skill in overcoming one or more obstacles.
  • A Cinderella story of having been an underdog who used this skill to emerge triumphant.
  • A hero story in which you used this skill to do something unexpected to save the day.
  • A humorous and probably self-deprecating way you’ve used this skill.
  • A story about tasks and job functions related to this skill.
  • A timeline of how you developed and sharpened this skill.
  • Results you’ve achieved through using this skill.
  • Lessons you’ve learned while developing and using this skill.
  • Ways you’ve applied this skill in diverse situations.
  • A time when you felt passionate and alive in your work (and the skill that made the feeling possible).
  • One or more stories that you find yourself repeatedly telling about your work (identify the recurring skill[s] in these stories).
  • If you could tell just one story to explain what you do in your work, what would it be, and what skill would it involve)?
  • (Thanks to story luminaries Annette Simmons, David Lorenzo, Steve Denning, and Cathryn Wellner for suggesting some of these frameworks.)

See more examples of skills stories in our sidebar, Stories that Illustrate Skills.

Final Thoughts
Consider, too, the needs of your audience as you choose stories to develop. In All Marketers Are Liars, Seth Godin advises that the worldview in the stories you tell must match the worldview of your audience ­— in this case, employers. Godin writes about story topics that always succeed with consumers. If we think of employers as consumers of the skills and experience that job-seekers offer, we can apply some of the same topics to story development: shortcuts you’ve taken to make work more efficient, ways you’ve generated revenue, how you’ve made the workplace safer, and even how you’ve made work more fun. Think creatively about the skills stories you tell.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

The most recent serialization of Tell Me About Yourself is now complete.

TellMeCoverCorrect.jpg You can read the new, improved edition of Tell Me About Yourself by buying the book.

You can read the first edition of Tell Me About Yourself on this blog, as follows (Follow each chapter sequentially through the dates after the opening entries for each chapter):

Introduction: Why Use Story in the Job Search?

CHAPTER 1: Telling Stories about Change

CHAPTER 2: The Quintessential You Story

CHAPTER 3: How to Develop Career-Propelling Stories

CHAPTER 4: Networking as Storytelling

CHAPTER 5: Resumes that Tell a Story

CHAPTER 6: Cover Letters That Tell a Story

CHAPTER 7: Portfolios that Tell a Story

CHAPTER 8: Interviews That Tell a Story

CHAPTER 9: Personal Branding as Storytelling

CHAPTER 10: Propel Your Career Through On-the-Job Storytelling




You can read the first edition, page by page, here.


You can read it through the Facebook fan page for the book.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

By the end of this summer, I will publish a workbook companion to my book Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling to Get Jobs and Propel Your Career. I plan to self-publish the volume and charge a nominal fee, tentatively $2.99.

TellMeMORE.jpg In the time since Tell Me About Yourself came out in 2009, I’ve collected so much material I wish I had known to include or that I’d love to include in a new edition. The book has sold respectably, but I suspect not well enough for the publisher to be interested in a new edition.

And beyond new material, I want to specifically create a workbook that will help folks develop communication skills — through story — that they can apply to job search, career development, and the workplace. My plan is to fill the workbook with hands-on exercises.

I envision that business-communication and career-development teachers will find the workbook useful with their students, and coaches with their clients. Individuals, of course, will also benefit.

Anyone who read Tell Me About Yourself and wants to delve deeper into applying story to the job search, as well as gain more how-to interactive experience, should get a lot out of the workbook, but folks will not have needed to read Tell Me About Yourself to use the workbook.

Please email me if you’d like to be notified of the availability of Tell Me MORE About Yourself: A Workbook to Develop Better Job-Search Communication through Storytelling.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

Rachel Brozenske of coaching firm Allison Partners recently reviewed Tell Me About Yourself.

Here’s an excerpt:

Whether or not your next interview begins when someone asks you these famous words, you’ll be well-served by Hansen’s approach to storytelling and the abundant examples she provides demonstrating how stories can help you with networking requests, resumes, cover letters, interviews, performance reviews, and more. Less a book for reading cover-to-cover and more a resource to work your way through, this guide explains why stories unlock doors and shows how to convert a list of experience and accomplishments into compelling narratives. It takes some effort, but I’ve seen this approach work for many, many clients.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

My new friend, Tim Tyrell-Smith of Tim’s Strategy has posted a review of Tell Me About Yourself and will gave away copies to selected commenters. Tims-Sidebar-Image.jpg Here’s an excerpt:
Kathy has an awesome book on storytelling called “Tell Me about Yourself: Storytelling To Get Jobs And Propel Your Career”. So I’ll tell you about Kathy’s book. Then I’ll tell you how you can win one of three copies she gave me. … If you are someone who freezes or cringes when asked a big, open-ended question like “tell me about yourself”, this book will be like a warm bath on a cold winter’s night. Kathy’s writing style is very comfortable. As you might guess from a storyteller. … Kathy’s book also provides many great samples to help you turn your experiences into engaging stories.
So if you’d like a chance to win a copy of Kathy’s book, here’s how to enter to win: leave a comment on this post. How? Share a story that you like to tell or a success in using a story to find a job or propel your career. You can also ask a question and I’ll see if I can get Kathy to answer a few.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

I don’t know how this recording sounds because I can’t bear listening to myself, but you might like to listen to this interview I did with Nan Russell of Work Matters on storytelling in the job search.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

Hansen, Katharine (2009)
Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling to Get Jobs and Propel Your Career
Indianapolis, IN: JIST Works
ISBN: 978-1-59357-6707

NancyMiller.jpg Book Review by Nancy J. Miller

The title of this book caught my attention because the response to the question, “Tell me about yourself” is what employers want to know whether or not they ask the specific question. The employer wants to know who you are and what you add to their business. The author’s use of story telling as the basis of understanding the question behind the question is very perceptive. When asked to tell about yourself, or tell your story, you need to know exactly what stories to tell and how to tell them.

Story telling is an art that needs to be practiced to be effective. The author uses examples, case stories, and job search tools to present various methods for practicing story telling. By writing your story before you walk into an interview or evaluation, you will know what experiences inspired you and which ones left you less than happy. You can avoid discussing less than positive events and focus on stories that make you shine. The author clearly explains the need to write and understand your stories before the interview to build confidence, clarify important themes, and highlight your strengths. The book includes a wealth of information and resources for developing a resume, cover letter, interview strategies, and propelling your career.

Five things I learned:

  1. Your story makes you unique and gives the interviewer something to like about you.
  2. Storytelling builds trust because it provides an emotional investment and uses the right brain.
  3. Telling a story to demonstrate a skill or experience may not work for every type of interview, but it always helps to write out your story and practice saying it out loud.
  4. If you don’t have a good story for the job you are applying for, then it may not be the best fit for you.
  5. Stories provide a picture of the information and form the basis of how we think, organize, and remember what was said.

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to enhance their career, transition to a new career, develop effective job search skills, or assist clients in developing career management strategies.

Nancy J. Miller is a Credentialed Career Manager and LifeWork Coach with a Master’s degree in Career Counseling. For the past 10 years Nancy has been working with businesses, professionals, people in crisis and transition as well as students giving workshops, counseling, and coaching. She developed the “LifeWork Success Plan™” and “Color Your Style™” presentations to facilitate self-awareness, healthy lifestyle and career planning. Nancy is the director and founder of The Center for LifeWork Design. She can be reached at

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

My goal in this book has been to examine career stories to discover how they can apply to individuals’ efforts to enter organizations and to interact with these organizations in a fruitful way upon gaining entry.

Through detailed descriptions and many sample stories, I hope you’ve discovered the promise of incorporating tales of career accomplishment, especially your successful interaction with organizational change, into powerful communication that influences hiring managers. The evidence is clear that storytelling then propels your career by also enabling you to promote yourself, lead and communicate change, and interact successfully with change in your new workplace.

I hope you’ve begun to compose stories about yourself as you’ve read the book. Now is the time to take charge of your story and let your career story unfold.

I invite readers to contact me to share stories and ask questions about storytelling and careers. E-mail me. Please also visit the parent blog of this blog, A Storied Career, and the Career Storytelling section of Quintessential Careers.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

Brown, D. W. (2002). Organization Smarts. New York: AMACOM.

Callahan, S. (2006, April 30). How to use stories to size up a situation

Callahan, S., Rixon, A, & Schenk, M. (2005, December). Avoiding change management failure using business narrative

Clark, E. (2004. June 22). Storytelling for leaders (free registration at MarketingProfs site required).

Denning, S. (2001). The Springboard. Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Denning, S. (2004). Squirrel Inc.: A Fable of Leadership through Storytelling. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Denning, S. (2005). The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Denning, S. (2007). The Secret Language of Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Gargiulo, T. L. (2002). Making Stories: A Practical Guide for Organizational Leaders and Human Resource Specialists. Westport, CT: Quorum.

Gargiulo, T. L. (2005). The Strategic Use of Stories in Organizational Communication and Learning. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.

Gargiulo, T. L. (2006, January). Tell us a story<. American Executive

Gargiulo, T. L. (2006). Stories at Work. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Goman, C. K. (2005, Aug.). 12 questions for change communicators. Link&Learn eNewsletter

Goman, C. K. (2006, Jan. 9). What’s changed about change management? Communtelligence newsletter

Johnson, S. (2002). Who Moved My Cheese? New York: Putnam.

Kahan, S. (2004). Every professional has stories to tell.

Kotter, J. (2006, April 12). The Power of Stories. Forbes.

Maguire, J. (1998). The Power of Personal Storytelling. New York: Tarcher/Putnam.

McKay, H. (1998, June). Using story as strategy: Interview with David Barry, Ph.D.

Neuhauser, P. C. (1993). Corporate Legends & Lore: The Power of Storytelling as a Management Tool. Austin, TX: PCN Associates.

Peck, D. (2004, Aug. 23). Changing your story

Pink, D. (2006). A whole new mind: Why right-brainers will rule the future. New York: Riverhead Books.

Quintessential Careers: Real World Section. New graduates tell stories of the change from being a college student to being a worker and describe positives and negatives of their first jobs.

Richards, D. (2004). The Art of Winning Commitment: 10 Ways Leaders Can Engage Minds, Hearts, and Spirits. New York: Amacom.

Silverman, Lori. (2006). Wake Me When the Data Is Over. (2006). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Simmons, A. (2006). The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion through Storytelling. Cambridge. MA: Basic Books.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

I’ll end this chapter with my own story of how change has affected my career:

Most of the organizations of which I’ve been a working member have grappled with change. The magazine publishing firm where I held my first corporate job was threatened with a movement to unionize workers. To show its benevolence, presumably in the hope that employees would shun the union effort, the company initiated the rather peculiar practice of delivering a piece of fruit to workers every afternoon. After the company began firing those who were most vocal about unionizing, the fruit no longer tasted as sweet. I then worked as an editor at a startup magazine, where the constant struggle to stay afloat was the catalyst for organizational change. Eventually the owners lost the struggle and sold the magazine. The new owners moved it to another city, leaving the staff without jobs. Next stop was an ad agency, where winning and losing accounts drove constant change.
I then joined the staff of the independent newspaper that served a large university community. There, a new batch of student staffers arrived with each academic year, and elections of top editors regularly changed the face of newsroom management. From there I joined another newspaper in a highly competitive metropolitan market. The newsroom was constantly abuzz over the ambitious plans of our chief rival paper and how these plans prodded change at our paper. Suddenly, the competitor bought our paper with plans to merge it with its own newspaper. I moved on to the executive editorship of a group of weekly papers and soon learned that the first thing the publisher wanted me to do was fire the two highest paid editors.
Leaving publishing to try public relations, I worked at a controversial reproductive-health organization that opened a new clinic, fought for continued government funding, and initiated testing for HIV and AIDS during my tenure. Next I became the speechwriter to an elected official, a position in which partisan politics spurred change. Nearly the last stop was a private university. Budget crises, enrollment challenges, and the drive for accreditation propelled change.
Overlapping my most recent jobs within organizations has been my effort to help people enter organizations, especially through written and spoken communication. As I have looked back at all the changing organizations I’ve been part of, I have to ask myself what I’ve learned. What have I discovered about driving, communicating, and coping with change that could help others? What could I have done differently to capitalize on organizational change? In what ways was I successful and proactive in encountering organizational change? What can my story and the telling of it communicate? How might I use my story to advance my career and guide others in employing story to advance their careers?
I then think about the career-management communication tools I have helped job-seekers prepare for a number of years. This book has been the realization of my contention that storytelling should be part of networking, resumes, cover letters, job interviews, portfolios, and personal branding. These story elements can influence hiring managers. Most important, continued storytelling helps advance your career once you are on the job.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

I used to not handle change very well. I’m a very routine person. Everything had to be routine for me. The second something got thrown off, it threw off my routine. At the theme park where I work, I was moved to a completely different location with a different environment. I was at a stadium location, with a 14-member staff and a very controlled, outlined, and specific setting. Then I was shifted over to the park’s rides area with a staff of 100 people. Everything was always changing. The volume was higher, and there were more people to deal with. I was forced to really have to change. I didn’t know how to change and hoped to just assimilate. That change really did throw off my whole routine. When management finally sat me down to explain that I had to change, they broke it down into a process that I was able to understand. I could mentally build the steps in the process - build a picture to make the adjustment. Otherwise, I would’ve never really adjusted. I probably wouldn’t even still be there if I hadn’t. All the changing roles I’ve had have helped me develop a different perspective on dealing with the change. And now you can change me on a whim at work. I can make the adjustment quickly and move forward without having to sit down and analyze how the change fits into my routine.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

The current serialization of Tell Me About Yourself is almost complete. Just discovered these reviews on Amazon and thought I would share them:

Review by Steve Krizman for Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling to Get Jobs and Propel Your Career

In her book, Tell Me About Yourself, Katharine Hansen provides actionable advice for incorporating storytelling in cover letters, resumes, job interviews, and conversations with the boss. As someone who is on the hiring end of the equation, I can vouch for the effectiveness of strategic storytelling (see my posts, What I look for in resumes and What I look for in cover letters).

Katharine, who writes my favorite blog on applied storytelling, interviewed job-seekers and studied reams of resumes while earning her doctorate. She supplies step-by-step story construction tips and illustrates her points with actual resumes and cover letters gathered in her research.

She clearly did an exhaustive literature search to gather a wide range of expert opinion on the subject. My only criticism is that Katharine could have synthesized the academic literature a bit more and taken a few risks by providing her own opinion.

Katharine puts the issue well for all of us, whether we are in the job market or are building our careers where we are: We should carefully nurture our own personal brand. And we know the best brands are those that evoke intrigue and emotion through the story that they tell.

Review by Miriam Salpeter for Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling to Get Jobs and Propel Your Career

“So, tell me about yourself?”

Is that not the most obvious interview question? The one that every job-seeker should anticipate and prepare to answer? Unfortunately, it may seem so obvious, many don’t spend the time they should focusing on how to answer it.

In fact, most aspects of the job search rely on being able to tell your own story:

Networking (the all important elevator pitch)

Your resume — connecting your accomplishments with the employer’s needs

Cover letter — another opportunity to sell your skills to a targeted employer

Portfolios — online opportunities to connect with people

Interviews — sealing the deal

On the job — to connect and advance

I highly recommend that job seekers take a look at Katharine Hansen’s … book, Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling to Get Jobs and Propel Your Career.

Her book is organized into several sections:

Part I — Career-propelling story basics

Part II — Using storytelling in your job search

Part III — Continuous storytelling

Katharine explains how stories can help you get a job by demonstrating your personality, helping to make you memorable and establishing trust. People who know how to tell good stories can communicate their value proposition, which is key for job seekers and careerists.

This book helps you with every aspect of telling your story — from figuring out what the story should be through tips for how to recall stories stored in your brain! (For example, give your stories names.) It is full of samples of stories and many, many ideas that are critically useful for job seekers and all professionals.

If you’re engaged in a job search — or maybe you should be — don’t miss this great resource!

Review by Tax Writer for Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling to Get Jobs and Propel Your Career

This book was surprisingly fun to read, mainly because it’s full of true employee stories, which are always interesting. I think the book would have been more appropriately titled if it had something — anything — in the title about interviewing. Really, this book is about how to interview successfully and make yourself really memorable.

The book also has numerous examples of successful resumes, cover letters, bios, and other correspondence to help “sell” yourself to a prospective employer.

Here’s my take:

  1. The book is an excellent book on interviewing, and also how prospective employees should present/introduce themselves to employers
  2. The book is more suited to people who are trying to obtain a management, supervisory, or white-collar job. The author already assumes that you know the basics, (like, don’t show up in jeans and flip-flops). She assumes that you have some skills and education, so this isn’t a book for someone trying to get a job waiting tables. It’s geared towards working professionals.
  3. The book’s best points are the cover letter tips and examples, as well as the story examples, of which there are many. She also goes over how to handle a termination with dignity so you don’t burn any bridges.

Overall, I think this is an excellent guide, especially for the price, which is quite reasonable for the material provided and the page count. I felt that the title was a poor choice, and maybe even a little misleading, but I don’t feel that’s enough of a reason to give this book less than 5 stars, considering the quality of the material.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

Much of human resources requires influencing others to make changes. An excellent example is the way in which I’ve persuaded managers and supervisors to conduct annual performance evaluations, which wasn’t the case when I was hired. I talked with supervisors and managers regarding the value of this responsibility, convened a task force, and designed an evaluation tool for the staff that has consistent criteria, is tied to the organizational goals and values, and is easy to use. I provided training and led conversations with the executive committee to foster support company-wide. The result is that all continuing employees and many temporary employees have received annual performance appraisals for several years.

To bring attention to the growing social problems in my region during a time of high unemployment, I proposed that we do what many of the participants in my temporary employment program were doing to deal with the stress, which was to have a party. A number of other service groups participated, and with our combined effort we had a daylong celebration that included a parade and activities and entertainment throughout the day at a civic park. A union group organized a parade, and another built the staging locations in the park. Through the media, I put out requests for donations to make the party work, and I received a donation of two tons of potatoes, which we used to make potato soup. Other organizations, such as church groups, began joining in, and soon we had a large group of volunteers, and the party served more than 7,000 people. It was a success in that it drew attention to the plight of the residents and acknowledged the “elephant in the room” known as unemployment and economic hardships while it gave us a well-needed reason to blow off steam.

During a time of change in our company, we had various situations where processes/ways of thinking needed to be changed. I had five managers reporting to me. During a meeting, I laid out what the company was trying to accomplish and then asked for opinions/feedback from each of them. During this meeting I also described the goal so the staff could understand the whole picture. They had questions/concerns, but once we talked through them, they were able to understand our challenge and came on board with the direction we were going in.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

Mistakes and failures comprise, of course, just one kind of organizational change, but the concept of people, whether executives or anyone else in the organization, including you, telling stories to cope with the stress of change, is the same concept.

Guided by a storytelling activity in a group setting designed by Darl Kolb of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, long-time employees of an organization about to undergo change shared stories of previous changes with less-senior employees. All the workers subsequently expressed lower than expected levels of anxiety and apprehension and less resistance to change. The looming change didn’t seem as radical when compared with those changes described by some of the old-timers.

Research shows that stories help workers make sense of change and undergo a shift in their own understanding of the need for change, how the change will happen, and what the future will look like once the change is accomplished. The process of reviewing the organization’s old stories and creating new ones helps organization members learn to adapt to change.

Smart organization members who understand David Fleming’s assertion in an article on using narrative for leadership that “a thriving organization sees its mission as an ever-emerging story with all the necessary twists and turns” will tell stories like the following to make sense of change and learn to cope and adapt:

On a project I was working on, I needed the help of an analyst in evaluating a work process I was trying to change. The analyst could not understand why incoming pieces of mail in my work area were not being scanned as electronic documents, which is standard practice across the organization. He assumed I hadn’t had proper training and was mismanaging the process, but in actuality, the process was new and foreign for the satellite office I was working in. In an email to the analyst, I described the background and rationale for why the processes were different, explaining that priorities, resources, management style, and availability of resources were very different in the satellite offices. The way I wrote the email had to be non-offensive, neutral, and objective because the analyst had responded to me in a dismissive manner. Ultimately, I convinced the analyst that I needed more of his attention and dedication to address the work process.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

In July 2006, Business Week published a cover story on company mistakes and failures in which author Jena McGregor listed sharing personal stories of failure as a best practice in dealing with mistakes. “If employees hear leaders discussing their own failures,” McGregor writes, “they’ll be more comfortable talking about their own.” The cover story features several sidebars in which executives describe their favorite mistakes. Mistakes and failures can, of course, be a great source of learning when future changes roll around, as in this example story:

Two years after I came to the company, we instilled a process in which we started to become a 24/7, 365-day-a-year work organization, supporting the company’s software worldwide. We had four global centers, three in the U.S. and one in Europe. The idea was to move the work according to time zones. When East Coast business hours were over, the work was moved to the Midwest center, and so on. The process didn’t work well. Things were not getting done because the volumes were growing. When the work was moved over, someone new would have would pick it up and learn the issue from scratch, causing a delay in solving the problem. Our backlog of issues went above 10,000, and we became literally a reactive call center that just greased the squeaky wheels. We went back to something a little more in line with what customers needed where we owned all of our work. But now we’ve started a whole new globalization initiative, and all of a sudden the process seems to very closely mimic the time-zone-related process that totally blew up. But I knew that I had to somehow sell the initiative to my team because without any kind of buy-in, it would fail from the start. So it has been very de-motivating for me, and I had a lot of struggles with it because I knew that my workload for my engineers would dramatically increase, and of course that would de-motivate them. I knew I would start having attrition. Team members would say, “What the heck? I’m leaving. This is crap.” So as a manager, I had to be very flexible to this change. But I did it. I got my people encouraged and feeling good about it, and it actually wasn’t quite as bad as the first time around. I had to step up to that and say, “Okay, we know the problems that we had before with this, so let’s do something now to see if we can make some changes to move on.” As a manager with my global team, I decided to have a few meetings in which we came to an agreement that we would evenly distribute workloads globally, based on the process at hand. The engineers that I manage are seeing that I’m committed to them, and knowing that the process didn’t work before, trying to implement changes to help it work this time around.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

My boss went on medical leave just as we were starting to wrap up a three-year comprehensive plan. In addition to just getting up to speed on the basics of the job, I was doing data presentations, monitoring agencies that reported to us, and ensuring that expenditure reports were accurate. I had to quickly pick up on the various service categories, understand which agencies provide what services, and prioritize resource allocation. My supervisor ended up taking 12 weeks of leave, so I was running the show. I called my supervisor from time to time for some advice, but I organized and ran the meetings, provided support for other meetings, went out to the agencies, figured out how to do all of the monitoring, ensured that all the reports were in on time, made sure other reports were in on time, and developed good relations with the agencies. I couldn’t have anticipated all of the things that would be happening during the time my supervisor was out. I was essentially working two positions.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

I have helped shift the focus of our HR department from a transactional one to more of a developmental and proactive approach. Early on, performance issues kept coming up that should have been dealt with much sooner. It was clear to me that we needed to be more proactive and developmental in our HR services to employ best practices and build supervisors’ supervisory skills by designing systems, processes, and tools to simplify and clarify supervisors’ HR responsibilities. I also began to meet monthly with department heads and department administrators, a practice that has been extremely helpful in addressing emerging issues. The result is an increased commitment to quality supervision across the organization, more efficiency, and increased effectiveness on the part of supervisors, and problems being dealt with more proactively.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

We’re taught when we’re young that modesty is a virtue, but if no one knows how great you are, you simply won’t get ahead. Be a known quantity. Sell yourself with stories of your successes, and let the decision-makers know that you seek advancement. Send your boss regular e-mails or memos with stories of your accomplishments and results. Tell these stories verbally in informal and social situations. It’s especially important to toot your own horn with stories when you don’t see your boss often, particularly if you telecommute or work in a different location from your supervisor. Upcoming entries will contain examples of stories that workers could tell their bosses to increase their chances of advancement.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

If you haven’t tracked your accomplishment stories to date, use the following prompts to brainstorm all those terrific things you did. Develop accomplishments stories that set you apart from others who might be competing for advancement.

  • What special things have you done to set yourself apart? How have you done the job better than anyone else did or than anyone else could have done?
  • What have you done to make the job your own?
  • How have you taken the initiative? How have you gone above and beyond what was asked of you in your job description?
  • What are you most proud of in your job?
  • What problems have you solved?
  • How can you weave into your story tangible evidence of your accomplishments: material from your annual performance reviews, glowing quotes from colleagues, complimentary memos or letters from customers, publications you’ve produced, products you’ve developed, software applications you’ve written?
  • Consider the “PEP Formula,” Profitability, Efficiency, and Productivity, as another way to tell your story. How did you contribute to profitability such as through sales increase percentages? How did you contribute to efficiency such as through cost-reduction percentages? How did you contribute to productivity such as through successfully motivating your team?

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

Storytelling to advance your career within your organization works much the same way it does when you seek to enter a new organization. Peg Neuhauser notes that employers tend to “reward and promote” employees who demonstrate they can handle change well. When you want to propel your career within an organization, you need to become a story collector.

Keep a record of everything you do that enhances your organization’s bottom line, shines a positive light on your organization or department, creatively and innovatively solves organizational problems, and shows your loyalty and commitment to your employer. And, of course, as emphasized in Chapter 3, record everything you do that demonstrates how well you have led, communicated, or adapted to change within your organization.

The minute you begin a new job, start tracking your accomplishments. Keep a story log in a little notebook, on index cards, in a computer database, on a small tape recorder, or on your handheld device. It’s important to collect this data as your accomplishments occur and compose them in story form because most people have a hard time dredging up stories of their past accomplishments and achievements. At key times, such as when a promotion opportunity arises, they’re frequently not even convinced they’d had any accomplishments worth sharing. But everyone has, and anyone who wants to advance on the career ladder should be prepared to articulate achievements beyond the day-to-day tasks he or she performed on the job.

Accomplishments are the points that really help sell you to an employer, much more so than everyday job duties, whether you are selling your qualifications to an employer for the first time or seeking to move up. In the interview she did with Quintessential Careers, career counselor Michelle Watson noted that “employers are seeking success stories.” They want to know that you are a problem-solver, a mover and a shaker, a contributor to the organization, and someone who shows initiative. While promotions are not always based on your past performance, you can certainly make a much better case for a promotion by telling detailed stories about your past successes. Those who get results get ahead.

Expressing your accomplishments in story form using any of the numerous story frameworks throughout this book is a huge advantage because your compelling, engaging story will be memorable to the manager making the promotion decision, while the people who aren’t telling stories may be forgotten. You will be far more confident, convincing, and persuasive than your competitors who merely list accomplishments - or believe they have no accomplishments. The decision-maker will get to know and trust you through your stories, which may also help you establish the emotional connection that will inspire him or her to invest in your success.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

Here are three examples of how change leaders illustrate transformation through story:

A faculty member tells her colleagues at a university - plagued with crumbling infrastructure, environmental issues, and stagnant leadership - a very different story of the situation at her alma mater. She hopes the portrayal of how such problems can be solved will inspire a “Just imagine…” response in her audience:

I recently attended a reunion at my alma mater, Eckerd College, a liberal-arts college of about 1,700 students founded in 1958. A new president, Donald R. Eastman, arrived at the school three years ago. At the reunion in that, his first year, he unveiled a campus master plan that called for a complete rebuilding of almost every residential and classroom building more than 30 years old and eliminating cars from the center of campus.
During the past three years the college has significantly improved the landscaping on campus. In place of wet areas and drainage problems, there are now ponds with thriving communities of wading birds and plants. In place of sand spurs, there is now a world-class soccer field and a student recreation area called “South Beach,” where you can sunbathe, play volleyball, and watch your classmates kayak or sail by. There are beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers everywhere.
They have placed a “freshman parking” lot at the perimeter of campus as the first step in the new parking plan.
Also in the past three years they have built a new library and a new dorm, and they are breaking ground on a second new dorm that will soon be open. The next step is to start rebuilding the existing dorms (about 34 beds each) one at a time. The next academic building in line is science, an estimated $20 million project.
The college’s endowment stands at $25-30 million, where it has been for many years. There were no plans for any of the improvements described above before the new president came.
I see an administration there that aggressively seeks out problems, searches for real, long-term solutions, and successfully finds the money to implement them.

A speech pathologist inspires younger colleagues with a story of how she sees their mutual patients:
I know that your education has not prepared you properly for what you see every day. I know from when I worked with head-trauma cases how harrowing it is to see someone near your own age injured in a car or motorcycle accident who is just never going to walk again, never going to talk again, eat again, and literally be in a vegetative state for the next 50 years. But you will also encounter patients who are resilient heroes. I have a patient who was born with no lower jaw. This little girl comes from an amazing, loving town, where she is surrounded by teachers and a delightful father. And she’s so spunky. To me, she’s on the upswing. She has a talking board, and we plan to teach her dad to sign better. And so I don’t get burned out on that. I get very hopeful and tenacious. I think some people might get burned out, but to me, there’s a great deal of hope and many tenacious, resilient people.

A new IT manager tells his staff of 10 technicians, who are frustrated by their 24/7 on-call rotation, how he addressed this type of stress at his former place of employment. In telling the story, the new manager enables the team to envision how he intends to improve their own situation:
The last team I managed was a lot like you guys and was going through many of the same frustrations you are when I came in. They were doing tedious, time-consuming work, running around fixing telecom problems based on a 24/7 on-call rotation. The first thing I did was get the group together, as I am with you now, to find out exactly what their issues were. I interviewed each of them as a group and individually. I realized that, just as it is with you, the biggest issue was the shifting on-call rotations. The schedule would be set up one week, and then the very next week it would change, because somebody wanted a change, and the manager would change it.
I set up a schedule for the entire calendar year. My only rule was that if you want to make a change, you had to work out a deal with one of your teammates to swap. So, I as the manager took myself out of the equation of making the changes; I let the team members figure it out. Sure, there were a lot of grumblings upfront because people could see six months in advance that they would be on-call over Christmas. But the benefit was that they knew that six months in advance, and if they wanted to make some changes or adjustments to the schedule, they could do that - it was their responsibility.
I also added a little fun and playfulness to the environment. I set up a putting green and invented a game called “Putting for Product.” Team members came to ask for a piece of equipment - whether a $2 patch cord or a $50 thousand piece of equipment. I gave them three free putts. If they sunk one of the three putts, they could take the product no questions asked. If they missed, they’d have to pay a dollar into our candy fund and putt again. Or, they could bypass all that and hire the local golf pro, one of the guys in the office who was really good at golfing, and pay him a dollar to shoot the first round for them. It was a great setting for having conversations, too. We also set up a fish bowl out in the main area so team members could acknowledge and recognize each other’s achievements. At the end of the month, at our team meeting, I’d go through this fish bowl, and the person with the most acknowledgements would be acknowledged and receive prizes, like movie passes or coupons for the concessions stand. Or, you could trade your prize, but it was like “Let’s Make a Deal,” so you didn’t know what you were trading for. It could be something really nice like clocks and watches, or silly things like gag gifts and pencils.
We also had the management team cook full breakfasts with scrambled eggs and pancakes for each team member and three of teammates of their choice.
So it was a really neat type of environment that we were creating, trying to lighten up the mood of the group. The team became more comfortable with the challenges they faced. The fun and playfulness really eased the tension that the team felt from the on-call rotation.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

Narrative is effective in motivating change based on storytelling’s common roots in all cultures. If you can tell the stories that are shared throughout the corporate culture, you can also change the stories — thus instigating organizational rebirth.

Examples abound of the ways organizations use stories to communicate about change. A major British public utility used story as part of a change process to create images of new directions and career options in the minds of workers. In another company, a CEO used story to illustrate his ability to grasp his employees’ gut-level reaction to industry-changing technology. By demonstrating through storytelling that he felt their pain while also painting a clear picture of what the future story would be like, he enabled his employees to envision and embrace the technology’s potential. A restaurant chain that planned to open 200 new stores in a two-year period prepared to address the change challenge presented by rapid growth by turning to storytelling to enculturate new hires.

Stories that show transformation can become metaphors for desired change in the audience.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

While this book up to now has focused on telling stories to help you enter organizations, this chapter discusses telling stories in the workplace. As we’ve seen in the foregoing chapters, telling stories about your ability to adapt to change is important to your career advancement, but being able to tell stories that propel and communicate change in the workplace is even more powerful. As author Peg Neuhauser writes, “If an organization’s goal is to become more adaptive and flexible in dealing with change, one of the first things that the people in the organization must do is face the fact that there will be change and start telling stories about it.” This kind of storytelling can also become part of a wonderfully self-perpetuating cycle: You tell stories that drive change. When you seek a promotion or your next job, you are then able to tell stories about how you used storytelling to communicate or propel change. You can also use stories to help you make sense of change and cope with its stress.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

In Chapter 7, you saw Web addresses for some good examples of storytelling online portfolios. At this site, you can see portfolios that rise to the next level — branded portfolio/blog combos that tell stories.

Story-supported personal branding should be at the heart of your efforts to propel your career, with consistent branding pervading your resume, cover letter, portfolio, interview responses, and all career-marketing communication. Let your brand support your story, and your story support your brand.

Personal Branding Resources

Andrusia, D. & Haskins, R. (2000). Brand Yourself: How to Create an Identity for a Brilliant Career. New York: Ballantine.

Arruda, William, and Dixson, Kirsten. (2007). Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Arruda, William, and Dixson, Kirsten. Career Distinction Workbook

Godin, S. (2005). All Marketers are Liars. New York: Penguin.

Hilicki, C. (2005). May I Have your Attention, Please? Build a Better Business by Telling Your True Story. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Peters, T. (1999). The Brand You 50 (Reinventing Work): Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an “Employee” into a Brand That Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion! New York: Knopf.

Quintessential Careers: Tools for Career Networking on the Internet

Personal Branding & Career Self-Marketing Articles and Tools

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

Where a dedicated careerist of old constructed a job-seeking identity through a resume and a few other printed materials disseminated to audiences that seem puny by today’s standards, postmillennial upwardly mobile types are establishing their career identities to vast global audiences using tools such as blogs (short for “Web logs”). And recruiters are responding. Case in point is the notion of the blog as a replacement or accompaniment for a resume. Sarah E. Needleman reported on the Career Journal site that Ryan Loken, a Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., recruitment manager, had filled an estimated 125 corporate jobs by reading blogs.

Authors Heraghty and Adams call blogs “a narrative form optimized for the web,” and blogs are unquestionably storytelling devices in which one’s story can unfold via regularly posted entries and also be told on a bio or “About Me” page, such as Rich Page’s example and one by a blogger who goes by “nahliz”. “Once you have a clear idea of who you are and what you want to do, you can start to tell the universe and attract the people who you would like to work with, talk their language and sell your future,” writes Blogging for Beginners author Margaret Stead.

Examples of individuals with a well-branded online presence include Nina Burokas (which, unfortunately is now password-protected), who begins her personal story by writing: “Nina Burokas is a brand strategist and Web 2.0/3D Internet evangelist.” Another that is more lighthearted and personal is that of Brandon Zeuner.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

A major job-seeker advantage is that most of the networks mentioned in yesterday’s entry provide an opportunity to build a profile on the networking site, thus a chance to engage in storied personal branding. Let your profile tell your story in a lively, exciting way that truly reflects your personality. Jim Randall of The Raconteur describes a process he takes clients though that can easily apply to crafting a profile for social-networking sites. These components can help you create an engaging story on these sites:

  • Who you are: Develop this component using your own authentic voice. You may want to draw from your Quintessential You story (Chapter 1).
  • What you do: A good way to frame this part of your story, Deb Dib notes, is to think of how you’ve made a difference for your employers. What outcomes would not have been possible for your employer without your initiatives?
  • How you do it: Offer stories, and when possible, quantified proof of how effectively you have performed.
  • What you want to be: Paint a word picture that shows your potential.
  • Your value proposition: Incorporate your branding statement into your profile story.
  • Your commitment: Express your passion for what you do.

Here are some samples of great social-networking profiles that tell at least part of the stories of the people behind them (registration at LinkedIn may be required to see these). Deb Dib shared these in an article about LinkedIn:

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

You can pump up your online presence through branded storytelling in a variety of venues. But, it’s not the means of delivering an online presence that is most important; it’s the content, and specifically, the story-supported personal-branding content. Deb Dib notes that “companies and recruiters are looking for passive candidates and active candidates with strong brands - clearly defined value propositions and differentiators. They are looking for fit. They are looking for authenticity and passion - the courage of a candidate to be real.” What better way to be real than by telling your own compelling story? Following are just a few media in which you can do so:

Social/Business Networks, Micro-blogging. Many recruiters and job-seekers connect though online business and social networks. The big three are:

  • LinkedIn, with at least 25 million* registered users, the most business-like of the three; average user is age 39.
  • MySpace, with at least 114 million* registered users, the most social of the three and especially popular with users over age 25.
  • Facebook, with at least 500 million registered users, falls between business-like and social and is wildly popular with college-age and new-grad users but growing rapidly among those age 25+.

(*These figures are outdated.))

Recruiters, who cite these networks along with the people search engine ZoomInfo, like these venues because they can learn about prospective candidates, as well as find out who else knows these prospects. These and other social-networking sites are exploding. Wikipedia lists more than 100 social-networking sites, and those are just the “notable” ones. Recruiters are using them to find candidates, while job-seekers are using some of the sites to get “found.” Another trend is micro-blogging at tremendously popular sites such as Twitter - telling folks in no more than 140 characters what the user is doing at any given moment. Candidates that recruiters actually source from social networks still represent a small percentage of the total, but as Kevin Wheeler writes on Electronic Recruiting Exchange, “Recruiting is moving rapidly from a find ‘em and screen ‘em, to a court ‘em, stay in touch with them, and sell them profession. These networks will power that charge.”

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.

Chapter 7 on portfolios touched on the growing trend in which employers seek information on candidates by looking them up on Internet search engines and the accompanying importance of creating and managing an online presence. To underscore that importance, Business Week has reported that 87 percent of recruiters use Google and social networks (such as LinkedIn) to decide about candidates. Google searches are so crucial to recruiters that they hold training classes, write manuals, and share secrets on discussion boards about exotic Google search strategies to find candidates. “In executive circles, having a LinkedIn profile is becoming as expected as being searched on Google,” says Deborah Wile Dib, whom we first met in Chapter 3. “Not having one is almost a negative.” A 2007 survey conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity revealed that 65 percent of business professionals are clicking and connecting via personal and professional social networking Web sites, with 35 percent of them reporting they use networks to assist them in finding a job.

Keep in mind, though, that employers and recruiters aren’t just looking for your “Googlability” - how many times your name pops up in a search. They’re also interested in how positive your online image is. Thus, be very careful about how you project your story online. The Internet is a highly public medium, and personal information floating out there in cyberspace could unfortunately work against you. Business Week reported that 35 percent of surveyed employers have eliminated candidates based on online information.

Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers, Quintessential Careers Press, ISBN-10: 1-934689-00-9. Find out the ways you can own the entire book.


The new, improved edition of the book, Tell Me About Yourself, is now available. You can order it on Amazon.

About This Blog

This blog serializes the first edition of the book, Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers (shown below). It is a blog-within-a-blog, and its parent blog is A Storied Career.


You can read the new, improved edition of Tell Me About Yourself by buying the book.

You can read the first edition of Tell Me About Yourself on this blog, as follows (Follow each chapter sequentially through the dates after the opening entries for each chapter):

You can read the first edition, page by page, here.

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