How do you stand out from the crowd of people out there applying for jobs?

Know who you are and how to talk about you. Some people call this understanding your personal brand. I call it understanding and presenting your story. Depending on the stage of your life, it could be your story for school interviews, your story for internship interviews, or your story for job interviews.

Don’t panic! All of your stories start with the same base – you and your core values and experience. When you learn how to present your story to others, you will create connections, whether networking or interviewing.

What are your values?

So, how do you start creating your story? Look at what you value in your life and at work (or think you will value at work). Do you want to be creative? Do you want to work alone? Do you want a job where you learn new stuff all the time? Do you want a job with a reliable routine? Do you want to influence people? Do you want a job that everyone else envies? Do you want to work for a company that is on the leading edge of their industry? Do you want to work as part of a team? Do you want a high-pressure job?

As you think about your values, imagine how they might play out at work. Think about situations where you have seen those values play out in your life – at school, at home, on a team, in a club, at work. Jot down some notes about the experience and how you felt about it. Decide on your core values and write out value statements. For example, the core value of my coaching practice is that people deserve to go after their dreams. Maybe your core value is that when people help you with a project, you will make sure you match them to the correct work and they will enjoy working with you.

Back up your value statement with an example of how it has played out in your life or work. My example would be about clients that I have coached to find their dream careers and go after them. Continuing the example from the last paragraph, your example could be a time where you put together a project, recruited people to help you, and together you delivered your project on time – and – the people who helped you enjoyed the work!

Got Skills?

Then, figure out what skills you used to manifest your values (organization, team building, research, listening, communication). You’re not creating a bullet list of 10 or 20 skills. Instead you’re developing a concise list of 5 to 7 skills that you are proud of and have used to deliver on your value statements.  Add details to your story by describing how you used your key skills.

Finally, review your notes and ideas and arrange your story in logical order. Instead of writing their stories down, I encourage clients to tell their stories to a friend. Then they record their stories using a recording app. Saying your story out loud helps you figure out if it hangs together. Telling it to a friend gives them an opportunity to help you get it right. Then, practice telling your story until you are comfortable sharing it.

By the way, your story is also the basis of your LinkedIn summary. Headed to college? In college? Need a LinkedIn profile for those internship opportunities? Click here for information about hands-on LinkedIn workshops.

Have an edge over the competition!

When you take the time to develop your story, practice telling it, and learn how to share it, you will have an edge in interviews and networking. Knowing your story and knowing how to share it is the key to standing out from the crowd.

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