Anyone who has been working as long as most of us in The FENG must have their favorite personal war stories. The question is really how best to use those stories in interviewing and resume writing.
I often hear these stories from members and marvel that they frequently don’t appear at all on their resumes. The reason normally given is that they are saving them for the interview. Friends, if they are such great stories, why aren’t they on your resume? If you don’t put them on your resume, you may never get that interview!
I think the usual reason is that they are just too long. Knowing many of my own stories and how I can rattle on, it is no wonder that I never put them on my resume. To us in the financial profession, every detail is important and the sequence of events is important. So many details, so little time.
Whether we are talking about a face to face meeting, a telephone conversation, or even an achievement on your resume, there is a very real need to be brief.
Understand that every story you tell is a story about you and how you perform under fire. Those small and large victories you have had during your career speak volumes about you and they need to be presented at the right time and in the right way.
As I mention from time to time, speech is the slowest form of communication. So, if you are going to tell a story about something you have done and about which you are really proud, you need to practice your story and make sure the punch line really delivers. Aimless stories without clear lessons about what a wonderful person you are will do you no good, and in fact may do you some harm.
Everyone, of course, has their own learning style, but I do best in listening to a conversation if I know where the speaker is going. A dramatic opener is best. It sort of gets the listener to sit up in his/her chair and get focused.
For example, one of my favorite war stories is that I collected money owed to our firm by Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal when it was essentially bankrupt AND I collected 100 cents on the dollar. Mentioning “The Donald” is bound to get attention. In “one swell foop” I am usually able to get the attention of my listener and make clear the point of the story.
What are your favorite war stories that you enjoy telling your friends and those interviewing you? Have you ever taken the time to write them down?
Initially there is no need to be pithy. That can come later. If you need to, tape record them and type them up exactly as you tend to tell them. Then read and reread them. What are the points you are trying to make about your skills? Is the impact you had on the situation really clear from the story? Friends, this is no time to be modest. Chances are they aren’t going to talk to anyone else who was there, so you can even stretch the truth a little. But just a little. (As you know, us financial types are uncomfortable with anything other than the whole truth.)
Stories are a much better vehicle for communicating your skills than simple lists. It is just a natural human trait to enjoy listening to stories and REPEATING THEM. If you tell your interviewer an interesting story, it is kind of like poetry and will tend to get repeated because it is easy to remember.
What better introduction when you are passed up the line than for your favorite war story to already be imbedded in their brain?