How your career skills story can land you your dream job
Job hunting is never easy. When the way we work is changing more quickly than ever, it can feel downright impossible. But in reality, dedicated, talented people are in greater demand than ever.
You can get hired and stand out in this landscape, and the route to doing so is surprisingly achievable. Today, savvy job seekers need to highlight transferrable “soft skills” and use a storytelling-inspired approach to communicate them.
Here’s what you need to know about crafting a skills story to stand out as you build your career.
Skills for the future of work
Today, job seekers are looking at roles that didn’t even exist 10 years ago. While that might make job hunting feel intimidating, no one expects recruits to have already mastered these brand-new domains. Rather, soft skills — also known as durable or transferrable skills — have taken on a new importance.
To land work in innovative, high-growth industries, applicants need to show off these durable skills. It’s a concept that’s been well-explained by visionary coaches like Kerri Twig, and the research backs it up, too. More than 60 per cent of job postings list at least one durable skill. In fact, they were among the most highly requested, one study revealed. In a world where in-demand technical skills are always changing, soft skills stand the test of time.
Job seekers can emphasize durable skills like:
- critical thinking
Rethinking your resume
In the past, resumes were simple and objective: a list of job titles and duties performed. They couldn’t reveal the applicant’s character, passions, perspectives or working style.
That’s why the traditional resume format isn’t the best option for expressing durable skills. Instead, job seekers need to take a more illustrative, narrative approach. That’s where career storytelling comes in.
Recruiters are more influenced by their emotions than they might think. A compelling career story reaches recruiters on an emotional level, defining their emotional reaction to a candidate.
Stories make candidates more memorable. Applying for a job means marketing yourself — connecting with your target audience and compelling them to invest in you. A meaningful career story inspires the reader, bringing them on the journey of your previous teams and workplaces.
Pro tip: One of the ways you can discover some of the durable skills you bring to your job is by completing Gallup’s CliftonStrengths assessment.
Uncovering your career story
For all the recent change in our workforce, career-building comes down to building relationships. And stories are a crucial way to connect with others — they are part of how our brains function. That’s what makes telling your skills story such an effective job-hunting technique.
To craft a compelling story, use the same techniques any writer leverages to bring readers along on a narrative journey. Try it out in your cover letter! This is the perfect place to give context to the skills on your resume and bring recruiters into your career story.
Leverage a structure such as this:
- Paint a clear picture: Where did the events of your career milestones take place? What type of team did you work with? What was the company like? What was the setting of your major wins? For example, did you excel at a conference, within a new market or in meetings?
- Set up the stakes: What challenges did you face? How were those challenges related to the larger goals of the project/organization you worked for? Who were the key stakeholders? How did you make those stakeholders feel?
- Position yourself as the hero: How did you step up to resolve the conflicts for the stakeholders within the setting you’ve established in the previous sections of your story? What did you learn from your experiences that makes you stronger and wiser today?
Storytelling is the ultimate durable skill
Demonstrating your durable skills through storytelling helps you build connections on a human, relatable level. It’s a surprisingly timeless technique, but that’s exactly what makes it so powerful.
LC Extension has plenty of other resources to help you sharpen your skills and thrive in today’s workforce. Learn more and get ready for what’s next.