Using stories in your CV

The ability to tell a good story or small anecdote is an important communication skill to have, because story telling is a means of communication, it’s a way of getting your message across and leaving a lasting impression.

Stories or evidence of your skills and achievements can be included in your Personal Profile, ensuring that the reader is captivated as soon as they start to read your CV. The skills and achievements highlighted in your stories can then be reiterated throughout the CV – reinforcing your abilities. And just think, by preparing strong, demonstrable stories for your CV you’ll be preparing a lot of highly memorable material to use in your interview too!

So how on earth do you write a story in your CV that is going to sound convincing and not make it look odd? Lets take customer service as an example. Most CVs would contain a statement about the candidate's views on customer service training and perhaps a simple example. But by using an anecdote about your involvement in a customer service incident, your CV will immediately stand out. For example, if you work for a company selling white goods, you may have been faced with a customer service issue. For example, take the case of a man who bought a washing machine from your company and has found that it is vibrating excessively and moving out of place. In your CV you might write ...

"I believe that I am good with customer service. I always go the extra mile to understand the customers’ needs and I try my hardest to meet their expectations. For instance, two weeks ago a customer came into our store complaining that his washing machine was vibrating so much it kept slipping out of place. I decided quickly that I needed to know whether or not the customer had received our on-site training in how to stop the appliance vibrating too much. He was unaware of this training service, but said he was willing to try the training before returning the appliance. I organised for our trainer to visit him later the very same day. The result was that he then knew how to load the washing machine correctly and wrote a nice email in praise of our helpful and prompt service. This is a good illustration of my commitment to outstanding customer service."

There are four important parts to the stories you should tell in your CV. Taking the above as an illustrative example, these parts are (the PREP formula);

POINT

I believe that I am good with customer service

REASON

This is because I always go the extra mile...

EVIDENCE

For instance, two weeks ago I had a customer come into our store...

POINT

This is a good illustration of my commitment to outstanding customer service

Reinforcing the point you are trying to make at the end of your story as well as at the beginning helps focus the readers mind. You2 could then go on and include ‘customer service’ in their responsibilities and achievements further down their CV, therefore constantly reminding the reader that they have evidenced their attainment in this specific skill.

CV’s are ultimately a summary of your skills and achievements in the workplace. They need to remain short (2-3 pages for most candidates is normal) and the content needs to be correct. Don’t include too many stories in the Personal Profile element of your CV as it will use up valuable space. But do look at the skill set required for the job you are applying for, and then choose one or two stories that demonstrate your ability to fulfil this skill set, using the PREP formula above.

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