A friend asked me to give her daughter feedback on her resume because her daughter had just learned about the job of her dreams–and, of course, she was eager to present her credentials in the best way possible. I, in turn, asked another friend–a former HR director and executive recruiter, for her input since she’s truly an expert on the subject.
As I looked at my recruiter friend’s best tips, I realized how they dovetail with tips on crafting a good story. That shouldn’t have surprised me. After all, a resume is a brief version of a person’s career story.
Here are three tips for crafting a compelling story, whether it’s a story you’ll be telling to your employees or one that you’ll be writing in the form of a resume:
- Know your audience — Who are they? What do they most care about? What do they need to hear from/about you to accomplish their goals? When you have a clear understanding of the audience’s needs and desires, you’ll be better able to create a story that’s interesting and meaningful for them.
- Edit ruthlessly! — After you’ve prepared your first draft, read it from the audience’s point of view. Which words relate key elements of the story? Just as importantly, which words are unnecessary to convey your message? Cut everything that isn’t absolutely essential.
- Use descriptive verbs — Enliven your story with verbs that clearly convey what happened. Did you learn a lesson, or were you struck by a lightning bolt of insight? Would you like a particular job, or are you excited by the challenge?
It’s difficult for everyone to determine what someone else wants to hear from them or about them. But when you start first by considering who the audience is, you’re able to see yourself from their perspective. With the audience in mind, you’ll be able to build a solid foundation for shaping and telling an engaging story, regardless of the format or the presentation mode.