Career success stories are a powerful way to explain your value to a prospective employer. When formulating your success stories consider using a strategy which describes the challenge you faced and the results you achieved. You will want to include a condensed version on your resume as well as be prepared to elaborate on the details when you are face-to-face with a networking contact or prospective hiring manager. When an employer is able to understand that what you have accomplished in the past is a strong indicator of future performance, you will rise to the top of the candidate selection pool.
“Story telling can help you uncover your key personal attributes. While developing your stories, you'll probably notice that certain qualities, strengths, and areas of expertise consistently run through each one”, states Meg Guissepi author of "23 Ways You Sabotage Your Executive Job Search" and "How Your Brand Will Help You Land." Think in terms of business impact and value. What have you done that has made a significant impact on productivity or profitability? What qualities do you possess that made you an asset to your former company? When you are crafting your career success stories you not only want to establish bottom-line benefits, you want to highlight what distinguishes you from the competition. In addition, being able to tell a good story is an excellent way to demonstrate your communication and presentation skills.
So what do CARs and STARs have to do with telling your career success stories? They are both similar and effective strategies for framing your accomplishments.
C-A-R stands for Challenge, Action, Result and S-T-A-R equals Situation, Task, Action, Result. The challenge or situation is the opening or beginning of your career success story. It sets the scene by describing the problem that you faced. The action speaks to the measures taken to deal with the situation and is the body of the story. The conclusion is the result which summarizes the outcome of your actions. Katherine Hansen the creative director and associate publisher of the website Quintessential Careers and author of eight career management books said that “good stories depend on drama and tension, and the challenge-action-result structure highlights both.”
Here are some questions that can help you get started:
- Were there any circumstances that inspired you to take action to solve a problem or challenge being faced by your team, your department, or your organization?
- Did you develop a new procedure, train colleagues on a new process or technology, or take on a project or leadership role?
- What were the short and long term results of your actions? What was changed or improved? Did you reduce or avoid costs, increase revenue, augment growth, improve quality or satisfaction, or decrease cycle-time?
- Were you recognized for your accomplishments? Did you receive praise from your colleagues or boss? Did you receive an award or other form of recognition?
When relating your accomplishments, monetize the results whenever possible. Add dollar figures, percentages, metrics, and other quantifiable information. Employers are interested in the benefit, value, and contribution you can make to their organization.
Keep your career success stories outcome-focused. Stories explain key career decisions, choices, and challenges, and stories paint a vivid picture. Using the CAR formula makes the assets that you bring to a new job clearer and more tangible. Invest time and effort in the preparation of your career success stories. By highlighting the depth of your past accomplishments and relating them to the needs of the prospective employer, your story will inspire the hiring manager to invest in your future success.