Transformative resume building and interview coaching for college seniors

TELLING YOUR STORY

Helen Koster

Information abounds for the soon-to-be college graduate who is ready to enter the job market.

Much of this information is on the internet and substantively is usually a couple of sentences.   This so-called expert advice often ends up being someone’s opinion.

It was refreshing to read George Ander’s recent book “You Can Do Anything”. It is subtitled ‘the surprising power of a useless liberal arts education’. It’s a valuable book that uses both hard and soft data to dispel employment myths for the liberal arts graduate.

For example, did you know that between May 2012 to May 2016 a total of 541,000 jobs were added to the tech sector? But, a grand total of 2.3 million jobs were added during that time. Over 75% of the jobs added were not tech-centered jobs. That’s a big piece of the pie! Anders calls these 75% “tech influenced” because all jobs require some technical know-how and it is here where the liberal arts graduate can grow and prosper.

Telling Your Story

Toward the end of his book Anders writes about the importance of being able to tell your story, a story that goes beyond the black and white presentation of your resume. Your story sets you apart from the other interviewees who claim similar skills and educational credentials.

Whether you graduate with a liberal arts education or a technical education, it is very important that you are able to speak about who you are in addition to what you have done.

I have found that students (and job seekers in general!) don’t know “their stories.” Students know what they have done. That’s only the context of the story. And, that’s the information found on a resume. It is who you are that lets the interviewer know you as another human being and shows the interviewer who you are going to be on the job.

Story

It is very important that you are able to speak about who you are in addition to what you have done.

There are as many examples of these stories as there are human beings. Here’s a recent one that emerged while I was working with a student.

Kurt is about to graduate with a degree in computer engineering. As we worked through his resume I asked him lots of questions.   I noticed a pattern in how he responded. Kurt listened to understand rather than to reply. He didn’t jump to answer or stop listening halfway through because he had already formed an answer.

Listening to understand rather than to reply is a bit unusual. Having the answers and having them quickly is more of our cultural modus operandi.

So, we spoke at length about this quality of his and how he used it and the results it helped him achieve in his student job at the university where he provided IT services to more than 200 people.

I prepared Kurt to grasp the opportunity in an interview to tell his story when asked anyone of several behavioral questions:

  • “tell me about yourself”
  • “what do you feel makes you different”
  • “when you ran into problems, how did you resolve them”

Kurt is looking for a job where he interfaces with a company’s clients helping them solve their IT problems. What manager wouldn’t want to send out a new hire confident that he would actively and accurately listen to a client’s needs!!!