How to apply for a job: Create a powerful story

How to apply for a job: Create a powerful story

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Phil is a professional career coach, working-life guru and all round nice guy. Welcome to the 3rd post in his blog series – how do you land that job?


“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today” – Robert Brown


No one in human history ever got hired without having to persuade another person they are the right fit for the job.  To get the nod you’ll need to create a compelling case that:


  1. Demonstrates your passion for the role
  2. Explains why you are ready to make the change
  3. Shows why your skills, strengths and experience make you the ideal candidate
  4. Shows how you’ll slot straight into the role and team


You’ll need to beat off some stiff competition and win the heart and mind of all the influencers in making the decision. In order to do this, you’ll need to get your story straight so that; 1) you believe it yourself 2) you can convince others of it.


Telling your story


Your story is the narrative thread that you use in your CV, covering letter and interviews to present yourself in the best possible light.

The best news about creating your story is that you hold all the aces.  You have the sum total of your life experiences to date and get to select what to present.

Even more importantly, you get to choose how you present this information – like the best politicians you can put spin on your past.

Finally, you get to choose the order and the way you link everything together.

In short, you have a wealth of building blocks to create your story.


What to Cover


Write for your audience – remember that you’re trying to build a compelling story about yourself.  Put yourself in their shoes and think about what they want to hear in order to persuade them to hire you.

This is your chance to show your absolute best self, not a time for too much modesty and holding back.  if you don’t share your best stuff, it will stay hidden forever.

Here is a suggested structure for preparing your story, and some key components you could include.  Try writing down/typing up your answers:


Demonstrate your passion for the role 


  1. What excites you about the job?
  2. How does it align with your personal and professional passions?
  3. What is your motivation for wanting to do the job – which of your values and goals will it serve?


Explain why you are ready to make the change


  1. Why are you making a change now? (a new challenge, opportunity to progress, etc.)
  2. What motivated you to make a change? (particularly if you are making a career transition)
  3. What makes you ready for this next challenge?


Show why your skills, strengths and experience make you the ideal candidate


  1. What is your X Factor – the essence of you that means you’re the ideal candidate?
  2. How do your experiences and story so far make you ready for this role?
  3. Which of your experiences best demonstrate the key job requirements?
  4. Which of your transferable skills and experiences can cover any glaring gaps in the job requirements?
  5. How does this job play to your strengths?
  6. How do your research/preparation and understanding of the job make you stand out?


Show how you’d slot straight into the role and team


  1. What does the organisation need to know about your personality and approach to life?
  2. What would you do in your first 100 days if you were hired?
  3. What would you like to know about the opportunity?
  4. When have you worked well on other, similar teams?


To do this effectively you need to be able to answer the questions in the headings to yourself convincingly.  You’ve got to drink your own Kool Aid before anyone else will.

Once you have a good overview, practice telling it out loud in front of a mirror, or even better a willing listener who can give you feedback on how convincing and compelling it is (or isn’t).  Keep working until you get something you feel proud of.

When you’re happy with this, it forms the basis of your CV, covering letter and interview responses.

It may take you some time to refine and craft your story into one a beautiful narrative, yet it is worthwhile when you are in the final interview with the CEO and it comes out smoothly.

With your powerful story, you’re ready to go and land that job.


You can click here for my previous posts: How to find a fulfilling job and How to succeed in your job hunt.

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