Written by Susan Lamphiear
“When the space shuttle exploded….” the sermon began. I still remember the theme of that sermon: “You don’t have to be a star like an astronaut to let your light–your talents–shine through.” I remember that theme because it was tied to that powerful, tragic story of the explosion which killed the astronauts and the first teacher/astronaut launched into space.
In today’s job search, we are sometimes reminded of the importance of storytelling as we answer those behavioral interview questions. But wait, there’s more to the story.
“We begin with our story,” says our keynote Cary Pfeffer, who’s come to talk to us about the importance of “story” in the job search. From his twenty-plus years as a reporter and newscaster, he knows about stories. Today he advises high level clients, letting them do the storytelling, because telling our own story can be more challenging than we think. Since it’s our own story, we have to be vigilant to keep the message succinct so we’ll be heard and remembered– but in a good way.
And then he tells us a story showing how a few moments can reveal a great deal about a person and an organization.
In the past couple of months Cary’s fiancee, an attorney, was called into the boss’s office, called away from a company training class she was attending, because he needed her legal expertise. What made the story the most memorable was what the boss did later. He phoned her trainer to apologize for interrupting his training session. He said, “I value what you do and I hope you know I’d never interrupt unless it was absolutely necessary.”
With a brief action, the boss demonstrated his values, reflecting back on the company — they valued the trainer’s time. The boss took time to remind the trainer he valued him.
Tips for One-on-One Conversation, the Written Word, or Public Speaking
- Know your audience–Make your spoken and written words about them. How can you help?
- Know your comfort zone — Preparation is the key even if you’re not as comfortable either with the spoken word or the written word. Spend some time getting ready instead of saying whatever pops into your head or whatever you quickly write down. The preparation will help calm you.
- Know how to be a good editor — Keep it succinct whether you’re speaking or writing.
- Begin and end with something unique or at least different than you normally would. Make it meaningful and about them. Spend some time thinking and planning to avoid rambling.
- Research shows when we communicate, only seven percent of our word choice matters, followed by voice tone at 38 percent. A whopping 55 percent of our message comes through our body language. Cary gives an example. If someone responds to an email or text saying “OK,” the receiver is apt to think, “Aww. I thought things were better than OK. I wonder what was wrong?” Probably nothing was wrong. But research shows — Most written communication is interpreted more negatively than it is intended.
- Use brief, planned stories because humans are programmed for storytelling. It’s how we relate to others and remember.
- If you’re telling a memorable story with a purpose, tell only what’s needed to get your ideas across whether you’re speaking or writing. You can always expand on it later, especially if the story inspires a question from an interviewer or your boss. The same is true in a resume or a cover letter. Cary gave an example of a cover letter he wrote before speaking to company representatives. The letter started out “Zilch. Nada. Zip… That’s the number of times we will speak instead of listening to your concerns.”
- Avoid tired old cliches. Avoid business jargon. When asked about yourself or what you offer the company, tell a short story that will reveal who you are and what you value.
- Consider one of advertising’s best lines “Just Do It.” Nike wanted to appeal to the weekend runner, and everyone in between, up through and including the Olympic hopeful or champion.
- Try this exercise Cary gave attendees Thursday. In a short sentence, say what makes you unique and helps a company. No mission statements, please. And consider if it can be quickly understood and remembered. Cary’s statement can be quickly understood and can always be expanded: “I help people when they stand up to speak.”
- In a business setting when you handle Q and A sessions, instead of just saying something mundane like, “OK this is the last slide…” take thirty seconds to say something more unexpected like ending with an anecdote to put the “bow on the present.” Or take a few seconds to highlight a main point.
Cary summed up his message reminding us the key to success lies in our ability to articulate our own skill set quickly and memorably.
Marcel Mayberry, Recruitment Specialist
Beacon Group provides employment-related opportunities to people with disabilities, a segment of society that traditionally bears a 70% unemployment rate.
A non-profit started in 1952 in Tucson, they’re staffed with job coaching specialists. Beacon partners with Goodwill to help the disabled in the Valley. In 2003, Beacon Foundation and Tetra Corporation merged to become the Beacon Group, now serving over 2100 disabled persons each year. Beacon Group specializes in a variety of employment-related programs, plus education and socialization necessary for clients to lead productive lives.
Beacon is looking to hire caring individuals willing to go the extra mile to help the disabled. Current openings in Phoenix include Employment Specialist and Custodial Job Coach-Federal Courthouse in Phoenix. For more information about other positions available with Beacon Group in Phoenix or Tucson, visit their website.
Peter Difilippantonio, Business Development
Trupath, an employment agency located in Tempe, AZ, offers boutique recruiting for general staffing across several niche areas. The company prides themselves on getting to know each job candidate and employer. Trupath’s recruiters search for employers and employee prospects with specialized needs. Often companies go to Trupath after going through other types of unproductive searches.
Trupath typically narrows the employer search to five job seekers, presenting the top two candidates to the company.
Current positions include Construction Project Manager, Marketing Manager, Project Manager with a large engineering firm, Senior CAD Designer, Family Support Specialist, Retail Operations Manager, Regulatory Reporting Analyst, Reliability Engineer, Polymer/Injection Molding Engineer, and Maintenance Technician for a solar company.
For more information about the company, positions available, or to apply, visit their website.
Caroline Wike, People Ops Manager
Weebly, a website builder located in Old Town Scottsdale, gives consumers an easy and affordable way to create a unique website. Weebly hosts a drag and drop website builder and encourages entrepreneurs to showcase their work.
The company offers products to help clients and staffs their own in-house lab to test new products.
Core values include radical respect plus honesty equals trust.
The company provides competitive pay with bonuses, annual top sales incentive trip, and a paid four weeks off after five years of employment. Anniversary gifts include a Weebly bike for your third anniversary of employment. Benefits include employer-paid health care plus life insurance and both long and short term disability; paid time off; employer match retirement up to the maximum allowed by law; and stock options.
Customer Success Advocate (CSA) Positions are open. A CSA helps customers with their sites via phone, online and email. No cold calls. New staff receive three weeks of training. Qualifications include strong understanding of the Internet and website creation, previous customer support and/or sales experience preferred, excellent written and verbal communication skills, comfortable with technology in general, and type at least 40 wpm.
For more information or to apply online go to their website.
Jennifer Rojas, Recruiter
Genius Avenue, located in Scottsdale, AZ, establishes a new connection between insurance companies and their customers, offering insurance benefit enrollment, administration and communication services. Clients include Lifelock and LegalZoom.com. The company offers choice, simplicity, flexibility and control, with their technology serving the needs of both buyers and sellers.
The Genuis Avenue culture is described as Innovative, Employee-centric, and Collaborative.
Open positions include Quality Assurance Analyst, Software QA Test Lead, Business Analyst, Strategic Relationship Manager, and Enterprise Sales AE.
For more information or to apply, click here.
Goodwill of Central & Northern AZ
Carter Ellis, Employer and Community Relations
Goodwill of Central & Northern Arizona is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is eliminating unemployment. Their retail stores offer donated goods to transform into services to help thousands of Arizonans, and to provide on-site career development. Ninety cents of every dollar from the retail operations goes back into the community.
Goodwill offers jobs in more than just their retail operations, a common misconception. Candidates are able to find employment ranging from entry level on up through professional areas such as IT, analysts, and project management. Because Goodwill partners with over 600 employers, often Goodwill contacts prospective job candidates directly with specific positions which can’t wait for a job fair.
Career advisors meet individually with job seekers. And it’s all free.
Goodwill partners with employers throughout the Valley and collaborates with community resources. Goodwill offers career coaching, resume critiquing, and mock interviewing. For more information, visit their website.
New Horizons Learning Center
Joe Rostowsky, Director of Site Operations
New Horizons provides computer learning solutions for anyone in job transition, or for anyone who seeks to upgrade their skills. They offer five learning methods: traditional, instructor-led; online live learning; online anytime learning; onsite group training; and private classes. The school’s mission: “We empower people around the World to succeed through learning.”
New Horizons evaluates candidates to find the correct program to help each individual and their desired job. The school offers state-of-the-art facilities including hands-on labs, learning guides, reference materials, course ware, practice exams and exam preparation. Funding is available, including for veterans.
Numerous training and certification programs are offered including Microsoft Office, Miscrosoft Technical courses such as Cisco, IBM, Cyber Security, Red Hat, and Business courses such as Six Sigma. For a complete list of offerings and information about funding possibilities, visit their website or call.
Executive Director of Career Connectors Jessica Pierce closed the formal meeting, thanked volunteers and the host Highlands Church. She explained the breakout sessions which included speaking directly with hiring managers, receiving help with resumes and LinkedIn, talking with schools about training programs, and getting professional head shots taken for free by a volunteer professional photographer.
Next Career Connectors event will be held Thursday, November 16, 2017, at 9 AM in Glendale, AZ, featuring Jessica Pierce on the topic Think Like a Hiring Manager and Land the Job. The next event in Scottsdale will be held Thursday, December 14, 2017, at 9AM. For a list of Career Connectors events, the details and to register, see the information beside this blog–to the right.
A little more food for thought on the power of telling your story. Try these links for even more insight and inspiration on the importance of telling your story.