Show Your Skills and Experience Through Stories

In your application materials and in interviews with employers, it is important that they hear concrete examples of your skills and work ethic through your past experiences. You need to know how to tell your story to convince them that you have the necessary attitude, skills, and experience to succeed in the job.

Imagine being an employer

Take a moment to consider that you are interviewing people to be your personal assistant.  You need someone to help you keep track of your homework assignments and personal social calendar. (Wouldn’t that be awesome!)  You interview two different people and ask them why they would be a good personal assistant.

Candidate 1: “I would be a good personal assistant because I am friendly and I like people.  I enjoy talking with people and helping people.  People say I am helpful.  That is why I would be good in this position.

Candidate 2: “I would be a good personal assistant because I seek to anticipate need before it arises.  As a babysitter, I was always looking to plan for what the children might need and then prepare for anything that might come up. For example, when planning a picnic at the park, I not only would pack all the food we needed, but I also thought to bring wet wipes, a few different types of games and toys, as well as a first-aid kit — just in case.  As your personal assistant, I will be attentive to your needs and will also be able to anticipate your needs before you ask.”

Who would you pick?

You now have to decide who will be a better personal assistant.  You have a very busy personal calendar and a heavy course-load, so which candidate would you trust most?  By ‘telling a story’ through an example about a previous work experience, candidate #2 likely leaves you feeling more confident that she would be attentive to your needs.  Candidate #1 only told you about some of his traits, but candidate #2 showed you how she has been successful in the past.

Show Don’t Tell

The best way to make an employer feel confident about you as a future employee is if they can imagine that you would perform well in their position.  A great way to prove that you will perform on the job is to give examples and show how you have done it in the past.  Any candidate can list off their personal traits or skills but what they say may not be true if they don’t provide any proof.  Giving an example is a concrete way that an employer can see that you have the skills and work ethic they are looking for.

For more detail on giving examples in interviews, don’t miss the great article, Can You Tell A Good Story?


Lori Bielek is the Marketing and Technology Coordinator at University of Delaware’s (UD) Career Services Center where she advises students in the arts and sciences through all steps of their career development.  You can connect with Lori through LinkedIn, Twitter, or the UD Career Services Twitter account (@UDcareers).

Related posts:

  1. Strengths v. Skills
  2. No Experience? Not Necessarily…
  3. Soft Skills, Hard Skills, and the Power of Thank You Cards

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