Tell a Good Story: A Recruiter’s Perspective

Man telling a story
Tell a Good Story: A Recruiter’s Perspective

About the Author

Laura Machan

Laura Machan

Laura Machan is a Partner, Talent Acquisition Group at Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions based in Toronto, Ontario. Although she has been recruiting for quite a few years, she still gets a big thrill from calling someone to set up an interview and an even bigger thrill when she hears a happy dance as she tells them when their new job starts. Laura lives with her family in Oakville, where she has lived for over 25 years, and is a significant contributor to the Canadian Federation of University Women - Oakville and Women in Nuclear, Golden Horseshoe Chapter.

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I spent yesterday morning in a sales workshop. One of our executive sales leaders took us through the process of using insights to help customers get a better understanding of how we do what we do. The insight part was not really new – we have always been pretty consultative on the whole. The new part was actually laying out a specific plan on how we were going to take them through the conversation, almost like chapters of a story.

Two things struck me.

This is exactly the same process used to write a stand-up comic bit. You lay out a scenario, take your listener through the details and then, BOOM, drive them to the punch line.

That was a very fun (but unsharable) realization midway through the morning.

Here is the more relevant part: everyone in the hiring process needs to get a handle on this technique.

As a job seeker, the only way for hiring managers to understand what you can do, is to take them through what you have done before. You need a concise, relatable way to share those details.

As a hiring manager, you need to be able to paint a picture of your group and the cool things they are working to accomplish. That’s how you attract the really great talent.

When someone asks for an example of a behaviour or a situation, they are really asking for a story. Smooth story telling does require some practice. Your best joke is the best because you can tell it with the right amount of details and you don’t leave out anything that’s important.

Your best stories are the same thing.

Describe the setting (A string walks into a bar) and some details about what transpires (he asks for a martini, the bartender tells him they don’t serve strings). He ties himself into a knot, tousles one end and asks again. (Bartender says “Hey aren’t you a string?”. String says “No, I’m a frayed knot.)

That may be a little too simple to explain real work situations but you get the idea. It does not have to be complicated but it does take practice.

Take some time this weekend to practice telling some good work stories. You will be glad you did.

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