Traveling back in time, the art of storytelling began with oral narratives told from generation to generation. And as with the passing of time, the oral narratives evolved further to accommodate wall carvings, pictures, tools and other memorabilia.  With the invention of paper and script, the process of storytelling eventually was transferred to manuals, writs and books. Why am I talking about all this today and why is it important?

I recently met with an interesting young man (for anonymity let’s call him Paul) who was at the top of his game as a senior manager in a marketing firm. Paul is a Fine Arts graduate from New York and was quite tired of his 9 to 5 routine and wanted something different. His quest led him to pursuing an MBA in Dubai, a country that he had never been to before. After graduating he decided to run an art camp for young children. One thing led to another and he sold off his business very profitably. He found himself at the cross-roads between what to do next. Which is where I come in.

Paul had been out of the corporate world for a while and simply couldn’t begin to write his resume and what he should say to prospective interviewers. He gave me his resume for a quick review and all I saw was dates and experiences chronologically listed with precision and requisite detail. And as I started speaking to him I got a sense of his personality – that of creative independence and the want to try something different, always!

Most people while writing their CV or Resume may not be aware of this but there is a big difference between the two. CV or curriculum vitae (Latin for “course of life”), is a chronological summary of academic and professional history and achievements. While a résumé  is a document used by individuals to present their background and skill sets. Résumés can be used for a variety of reasons but most often to secure new employment. A typical résumé contains a summary of relevant job experience and education. In many contexts, a résumé is short (usually one to three pages), and directs a reader’s attention to the aspects of a person’s background that are directly relevant to a particular position. Many résumés contain keywords that potential employers are looking for, make heavy use of active verbs, and display content in a flattering manner.

My advise to most of my clients is to always aim for best of both the worlds – blend your details with a sense of bringing to the table your individuality highlighted with appropriate keywords and a summary statement. While reviewing Paul’s CV I could not get a sense of his wonderful personality and why he moved from one position to another. And that is where the art of story-telling plays a very important role. How you tell your story is the most critical component of whether people like you, believe you and even applaud you – the art of story-telling especially when seeking a job ensure that you take the interviewer on a journey of your life, your decisions and the stories behind them.

I would recommend that one should start with simply stating your academic and professional journey with phrases that link one to the next. Once you feel comfortable doing so, add the decision tree as to ‘why you did so’ between one phase to the next. And as you continue to practice your story, you will realize that a pattern evolves that twines together each piece and makes a story complete. The moment you feel comfortable to share your story, choose a partner or a friend who is a good listener and ask for their opinion. As you grow from strength to strength remember to keep your story real and simple and you will never go wrong!

As always, feel free to send me your thoughts and/or questions as you make progress to your stories.

With warm regards,