Communicating your experience through "good stories" will be critical to your success.


Getting Across "The Real You"

An important part of what we suggest that you do is to attempt to convey the real you by identifying your full range of "core " attributes, as well as the precise words and phrases that will be at the heart of your communication strategy. With the approach to expanding your marketability just described, we will jointly set the stage to build appeal beyond your basic credentials.

As mentioned earlier, to appreciate your need for a communication strategy consider the "platform" of a candidate for the Presidency. It anticipates questions on major issues and formulates well-thought-out position statements to guide the candidate's answers.

Please realize that your "tickets" alone (advanced degrees, titles, etc.) will not necessarily motivate another employer to hire you. You must use words that add interest beyond your credentials. Now, when any of us recruit people, we have a concept in mind. In the final analysis, we hire others for the traits, skills and abilities that certain key descriptive phrases imply. So, it's important to select those that set you apart.

For example, you may have "operated effectively under pressure," or you may be "an excellent motivator." We could examine hundreds of phrases that we think are most important for you and which can set you apart.

Good Stories Make a Lasting Impression

To expand your marketability, you must develop stories to create maximum interest. Without stories, most people will forget what you say in a matter of minutes.

To ensure that your points are memorable, we use a method for creating interesting stories. SOAR is an acronym that stands for Situation, Opportunities, Actions, and Results. It offers a process for describing your past experience. We all like good stories and remember them. SOAR represents a compelling way to present information about your history and accomplishments.

Here's how you can use our SOAR process:

  1. Situations. Describe a job by reviewing the situation when you began, making it interesting.
  2. Opportunities. Then bring up information about the opportunities that the job presented. Here's an example of what we mean by Situation/Opportunity. "When I joined the firm, sales had been declining for three consecutive years. Knowing the firm's markets, I saw the opportunity to target new areas."
  3. Actions. Next, move to actions taken by you and others (the team). We believe that these actions are the most important part of the SOAR process.
  4. Results. Then relate what results occurred.

SOAR means telling your whole story. If it's well told, it will generate more genuine interest than any dry recitation of your duties. When you talk about the R in SOAR, try to quantify the results. For example, you cut costs by 0,000 or 20 percent.

In many administrative situations, it is not always so easy to quantify results. In these cases, you need to measure results using statements like "I did it in half the time," or "The system I developed was adopted throughout the company," or "I won an award ... "

Here, you need to indicate positive things you did to help your organizations and how you took on extra tasks. Describe how you helped your management team meet their goals, and also the results they achieved. If appropriate, you can show how you demonstrated a skill, special knowledge or a personal quality.

Develop SOAR stories that cover situations where you can demonstrate the value of fresh thinking as a means to improve productivity, or show that you have solved a variety of problems in diverse areas.

Employers need to feel that you are the answer to one of their problems. If you can show them how you met or exceeded the needs in other environments, they may conclude that you can do the same for them.

The idea is to create stories that demonstrate the benefits you are bringing to the organization. If you successfully managed the integration of two teams following a merger, and the new business gained market share and/or costs were reduced—by all means say so.

Wherever possible, quantify with dollar amounts, percentages, etc. If you have many stories, focus on those which are most important. Here we suggest you think of the position you are seeking, and then select stories that will best position you for your new role.

Examples of SOAR Stories

Situation/Opportunity: When I joined MBC Sales, the company had lost nearly .5 million on a new product release. I recognized an opportunity to employ my Procter & Gamble experience in marketing.

Action: With the help of the Y & R Agency, I relaunched the brand, created a new television advertising campaign, and refocused all marketing efforts.

Result: Within a year, we turned an million loss to a million gain—representing 30 percent of the firm's profits.

Another Example of SOAR Stories

Situation/Opportunity: The company recruited 5,000 people a year but never had a good training program.

Action: I created a management training course. With a staff of 20, we researched materials, broke the process into logical steps, and structured all course materials.

Result: For the first time, the firm was able to bring in recruits who could take on responsibilities within four weeks. The following year, sales and profits increased more than 20 percent each.