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Telling your story

The Hiring Process Interviewing Strategies Resumes and Cover Letters

Question:

I’m really uncomfortable bragging about myself on my résumé and in interviews. Do I have to?

Answer:

Yes and no.

Yes, in the sense that you have to tell the employer what you’ve done, and how you can solve his problems. He doesn’t know you; he has no way to know all the great things you can do for him. You have to tell him.

No, in the sense that you don’t want to lie or to suggest that you’re bringing more to the table than you actually are. Sooner or later, that will come back to bite you.

You also should not say things like “I’m the best hot-air balloon pilot in Frederick County.” That just comes across as empty boasting.

Instead, tell a story. The human brain is wired to love stories, and yours will help the employer remember you. Briefly tell a story about one of your great successes that is relevant to the job you’re applying for. This is easier to do in a cover letter or interview than a résumé, but you can refer to it in your résumé while supplying the actual story somewhere else.

When you tell your story, remember the “CCAR Formula.” The first “C” is for “Context”. What was going on before your story begins? The second “C” is “Challenge.” What problem were you called upon to solve? “A” is for action, the things you did to solve the problem. And “R” is for results: the way your success was measured.

Telling your story gets the necessary information to the employer (why you actually are the best hot-air balloon pilot in Frederick County) without making you appear to brag. Adding some numbers in, where relevant, helps the employer understand your accomplishment even better.

Your story, yourself. No need to boast.