CAREER COACHING TIP OF THE WEEK: Storytelling in Job Search

Hiring authorities want to hear stories.

job searchThey read hundreds and even thousands of resumes each month, and they need to be entertained. They wrote the position descriptions/job orders; they know the requirements of a job. What they want to hear now is how a candidate will be able to meet the requirements of a position, using stories that demonstrate their expertise.

You have probably heard of SMART stories (Specific, Measurable , Attainable, Realistic, and Time based); there are also CCAR stories (Challenge, Context, Actions, Results); CAR (Context, Actions, Results); PAR (Process, Actions, Results) and many more like this. These formats help frame stories for resumes, networking, and interviewing.

There is a difference between a job duty and an accomplishment story. The story brings a “picture” to the reader’s mind. It makes a resume or an interview interesting. Storytelling captures the attention of the reader or listener.

Here are sample accomplishment bullets for a resume:

  • Job Duty:  Contract manager. Manage all company contracts.
  • Accomplishment Story: Drafted the proposal for a capital equipment contract and landed $7M in sales with large Fortune 500 corporations including graphics, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing companies.
  • Job Duty:  Manage sales, marketing and product management. Supervise 18 direct reports.
  • Accomplishment Story: Spearheaded business turnaround realizing $50M in cost savings over 6 years. Spurred creation of novel, new ways to price products and where to cut costs.

These stories can get further developed using the specific CCAR format as noted above to gather specifics, and create a framework for answering questions in an interview. Many interviewers will score interview responses based on the CCAR format, and interviewers want to hear story-line responses to behavior-based questions posed in interviews. Behavior-based questions usually begin with “Tell me about a time when…” or “Describe a time when…”.

When you hear these statements, you know to tell a job search story for a response.


A good way to tell a CAR or CCAR story is to:

  • Context: Describe your job, job title, time frame and the circumstances/project/program.
  • Actions: Provide two to five actions that you took to address the situation and achieve the results.
  • Results: Remember to use plenty of numbers, percentages, and dollar figures in the results!


Context: As The Senior Vice President/President Operations – Risk Management and Compliance at XXX company, I managed an import / export packaging equipment corporation with up to $8 million in annual revenue. The equipment is imported from Turkey, Germany, and other locations in Europe and installed throughout the Western Hemisphere (Canada, Mexico, South America, and USA).

Actions: Specifically, I managed implementation of new procurement policies and procedures. I determined that we met changing conditions and demands to increase profitability, and where necessary, employed new policy and procedure directives to eliminate ineffective practices. I also negotiated terms, developed standard contract documentation for sale of capital equipment, sent contracts to legal, and followed contracts once approved, to meet customers manufacturing and technical specifications. I carefully monitored penalty clauses on contracts in collaboration with the attorney and I monitored contract negotiations between our attorney and client’s attorney to prevent liability to my company.

Results: I drafted the proposal for a capital equipment contract and landed $7M in sales with large Fortune 500 corporations including graphics, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing companies. I also saved the company over 30% on costs, simply by procuring competitive quotes and asking for aggressive discounts in exchange for timely payment terms.

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