Stories for success: make a story out of your career

HR managers and recruiters can immediately tell whether you are seriously looking for a new job and whether you are well prepared for an interview. If you are prepared, you can easily link your skills and knowledge to the requirements of the job. Storytelling is a good way to do this. Here are a few tips on how to start:

In an interview, storytelling helps to present the facts of your CV in a lively and interesting way and allows you to show a personal side of you. Neither employers nor personnel service providers want to hear from you that everything just happened somehow; they want to know more. Especially if your CV has no consistent line, you can benefit from this approach.

You can use storytelling to give examples from your working life that are relevant to the respective industry, company and position. You can also explain why your current job makes you the perfect candidate for the new position. In other words, you really have a lot to tell that is significant for the respective job and can give HR managers a good insight into your career.

A common term used to describe your career story is your unique selling proposition, or USP. Your USP positions you in the candidate market based on your personal strengths, skills, experience and value. It spells out why an employer should select you above all other candidates.

1. Deal with your personal story

2. Give structure to your answers

3. A separate USP for each application

4. Practise and improve yourself

5. Be yourself

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  2. 1. Deal with your personal story

    If you haven't thought about your story yet, start thinking about what skills you have. You can follow these steps:

    Ask colleagues

    Ask current and former colleagues what skills they admire in you. Think about what you do well and are proud of.

    Look at your old application documents

    Get your old application documents and look over your performance reviews to see what skills your managers have praised.

    What makes you stand out from your colleagues?

    Think of your current job. What can you do that no one else at your current organisation can do as well?

    What are you particularly good at?

    Think of every previous job. What tasks and responsibilities did you have? Again look for areas where you excel.

    Find examples

    Next, add evidence to support each strength you’ve identified. One easy way to do this is by looking at how much money you have saved the organisation. If your role doesn’t provide this opportunity, share examples that demonstrate the successful application of your skills. Arm yourself with several examples – ideally at least one for each skill, prior experience, area of responsibility and any other competency in which you excel.

    Browse through previous applications

    Read your old application documents. In these cover letters, you will find well expressed thoughts which you have long forgotten and you may use for the interview.

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  4. 2. Give structure to your answers

    By structuring your answers, you can ensure they remain substantial without your point getting lost. A beginning, middle and end are essential – so use the STAR technique here: S to set the situation, T to describe your task and involvement, A to tell of your action, and R to show off the results! Here is an example of a typical interview question answered using the STAR structure:


    “Can you think of a time where you demonstrated a problem-solving attitude?”


    • (Situation) “Yes, whilst I was employed X company, I was responsible for digitally promoting a portfolio of X products.
    • (Task) One week, our online sales for a particular product were 25% lower than usual.
    • (Action) Therefore, I created banner adverts for these products to go on our homepage and email signatures. I also increased our social media activity promoting these products. I encouraged internal teams to “like and share” this activity. I also launched an email campaign to go out to a targeted list of customers for that product.
    • (Result) Consequently, by the following week, online sales for this product saw a 40% increase and have remained steady ever since.

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  6. 3. A separate USP for each application

    It doesn’t matter how long your list is, because you’ll then tailor from it a USP that is relevant for the particular job you are applying for. If you are applying for several jobs, create a USP that suits each organisation, its industry and its culture. This can then become your default list that you return to throughout an interview when answering questions. It’ll ensure your answers are relevant to the job you are applying for, and will help if you are asked a question that you aren’t sure how to answer.

    Do not underestimate the importance of an individual USP for each single position you are applying for. Be open and honest. Practise a clear and appealing way of expressing yourself to arouse the interest of your counterpart. Take the hiring manager on your career journey to convey a good understanding of your skills and to convince of your suitability for the position.

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  8. 4. Practise and improve yourself

    You don’t want your story to come across as overly-polished, but trying a few practice runs with trusted friends and family can help you to get valuable feedback. These trial runs will also help to build your confidence and personal style.

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  10. 5. Be yourself

    Don’t pretend to be someone that you’re not. Storytelling should be authentic and help you to demonstrate your personality – so don’t copy someone else’s style or try to be a comedian. If you are naturally extrovert and expansive, this will already come across in the way you express yourself. If you are naturally quieter, more introverted and a little quirky, then that is ok too. Remember, it’s vital that you are matched with a job that will genuinely suit you. By showing your character in such an honest and memorable way, your interviewers will get a true sense of how you would fit culturally and individually within the company and the wider team.

    Follow these steps and you can find the right balance using appropriate anecdotes. Like this, you can present yourself in a professional way and show your personality.

If you follow the above tips, you have an authentic and well-structured story that not only differentiates you from other applicants but also helps you to be successful in your job search.

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What is a video interview, and what are the special types of video interview?

A video interview is a type of job interview in which the applicant talks to a recruiter via video chat. The conversation can take place either in real time or after a time delay. The synonyms for a video interview include online job interview, online interview, digital job interview, online job talk, digital interview and virtual job interview.
In a time-delayed video interview, the applicants are provided with a list of questions beforehand and have a certain amount of time to record and transmit their answers.
Another alternative is the so-called video pitch. This is a short presentation which the applicant records and sends to the company. It is a question of presenting yourself concisely and convincingly within a short time, and highlighting your own skills and experience. The video pitch is frequently used as a supplement to the CV and cover letter method, and can help applicants to be shortlisted more quickly.

    No costs for applicants

    Advice on application documents

    Professional and discreet support

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