How to tell your story


Why telling your story in every conversation leads to jobs

Anytime you meet someone is an opportunity to talk a little bit about yourself and share your story.
If someone were to ask you right now what you do, what would you say? It’s pretty common to make short statements and say something like “I’m a nursing assistant,” or something similar that is a matter of fact sentence. While this may be true, if this is all you say, it could be a wasted opportunity to share a bit more about yourself and ask for help in your job search.

A good practice at anytime, and especially when you are in the process of finding a job, is to share a little bit more about yourself with anyone you meet so they know more about your story and have the opportunity to offer to help you should they know someone or something that could be helpful. In the example above, instead of saying, “I’m a nursing assistant,” you might say, “I’m a nursing assistant and I’ve been working in a nursing home. As my next step, I’d like to become a vocational nurse in a hospital.” If you were to share this level of detail with anyone you meet and they know someone who could be helpful to you, they are much more likely to share that information and connect you.

What goes into telling my story

Coming up with a few sentences that describe what you do and what you might be looking to do next is a really helpful step to take when you are looking for a new job. This is because people are often the key to finding a new job. Over 30% of jobs go to people who have been referred by current employees. Finding a job through someone you know is a much faster way to a job than applying online without tapping into the people around you for help.

Anyone you come in contact with, in your community or friends of friends, could be the person that connects you to a company or job in the future. That’s why it’s important to be able to quickly describe what you do, and what you want to do in your next job. Consider a few things you’d want to include in your story. A good framework might look something like this:

story framework.png

Picking the job skills for your story

A key part of your work story is including three job skills that you are good and that companies value. These will be skills you want people to remember about you. If you are a nursing assistant, a relevant job skill could be taking vital signs. If you are a marketer, a relevant job skill could be writing for blogs and social media posts. Make a list of all of the job skills you have. These are skills you could have had at a prior job, or skills that you have and use in your current job. Try and pick skills that will be of value in the job you want next.

Deciding which soft skills to include in your story

It’s also important to share some of the soft skills, also known as people skills, in your story. Soft skills that are important across many types of jobs are listening, teamwork and problem solving. Soft skills generally apply to all types of jobs across most industries. By showing you already have acquired soft skills, you’re showing that you have many of the skills required for the job you want next. To create this list of soft skills, think about how you work and communicate with other people such as coworkers and customers. Then make your list from there.

Showcase your personality in your story

The last element of your story you want to include is a bit about your characteristics that make you who you are. For example, you might be friendly, hard working, persistent or organized. These characteristics showcase the parts of your personality that could be considered positive traits at work. For most people, it can be hard to talk about yourself and know what to highlight or say. To get this list, ask people who know you well what they would say about you. Ask your friends and family something like, “what are the words you would use to describe me?” or, “if my employer asked you to describe me, what would you say?” Take these descriptions from a few people, find three of the most common characteristics that are positive and would be valued by a future employer and add those to your story.

Putting your story together

The goal of your story is to be able to share a picture of you and what kind of job you are looking for next so anyone you meet can be helpful in introducing you to a future employer. In putting together your story you want to be able to easily repeat these things:

  • the job you have now
  • three job skills
  • three soft skills
  • a personal characteristic
  • the job you want next

  • Here’s what a story could look like for someone looking to move from retail to marketing:

    I’ve been working as a retail associate for the past three years. I’ve developed skills in merchandising products, organization and writing customer emails and social media posts. I’m also good at listening and working with customers to make product recommendations. Everyone says knowing what to recommend is something I’m really good at. As a next step, I’d like to apply my skills to a job in marketing, either in social media or email marketing. Do you know anyone who works in marketing who might be willing to talk to me about their job?

    Practicing your story with people you know

    At the very beginning, it can feel awkward to start talking to people about what you do and sharing what you are looking to do next. Remember though that referrals from employees are the number one source of candidates for employers, so someone you talk to could be the person that opens the door to a future job for you.

    percent of employee referrals.png

    The key is to start practicing telling your story with people you know. With a bit of practice, it will become more natural to talk about yourself and ask people around you for help in finding your next job. Practice with friends or family. Is there someone in your community who you admire from a work perspective? Practice with them. The more you practice telling your story, the more comfortable you will become. You are 34 times more likely to get someone to help you when you ask face to face. So getting comfortable telling your story and then asking for help makes a big difference in being connected to companies and jobs you are interested in as a next step.

    Ox guides help you develop your work story

    If you’d like some help putting together your work story, an Ox Guide can help. Schedule a free video chat session with an Ox Guide to help you identify potential job paths and the skills you have that can help you get there. You can also use Ox Guides to help practice your story. Ox Guides are helpful people with years of experience hiring and learning how to navigate finding jobs that want to see you get on a job path that will be a great fit for you. Get started today by asking Ox a job related question or by joining the community to meet your guide.