Oxbow Bend, Snake River

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Telling Your Story and Showing Your Strengths

We’re all familiar with the concept of brand recognition – “Just Do It”, Golden Arches, geckos that sell insurance, etc. An organizational or employer brand goes even further into how an organization is perceived, what information is known, and trusted, how customer service is delivered, and the reputation that has been developed over the course of time.

As employees and job seekers, you have your very own “personal brand”; those values, actions, and experiences that shape how you may be perceived. We don’t often verbally define our personal brand, though we demonstrate it on a daily basis.

Why does all this matter?

When a job opportunity is posted, you may or may not know anything about a company to begin with. Maybe they have a reputation you trust, that you can get on board with – and maybe not. You most likely will make a decision whether you continue researching this employer or not, and even whether you decide to submit an application. Brands matter! You might try to find others who have worked for this company through word of mouth or social media, or the CoolWorks Community. You might search Trip Advisor and look for comments about who this company is to the general public and how their customers feel about them.

On the flip side, when a company looks at YOU as an applicant, they too, want to know who you are, what you stand for, how you are perceived, what they can expect from you, what steps you have taken to bring your strengths – and improve upon them – at a previous job. This takes us back to your Personal Brand.

Take some time to consider and define some of your personal values, and then connect those values to previous life and work experience that demonstrate how you put those values to work. These, in turn, become your strengths! And employers want to know about your strengths.

Reflect on ways you can tell an employer your story. Let’s say one of your previous jobs was as a Host in the dining room of a National Park Lodge. You greeted and seated hundreds of excited and weary travelers every day. They demanded a lot from you – “Can’t we have a seat by the window?”… “You are really closing in 5 minutes? My family is starving!”…”Where are the restrooms?” … “We haven’t seen a single bear! Where do they keep the bears?!” (Some of the more epic moments are rushing back to you right now, I bet.) You heard it all. But somehow you managed to pull out all your wits and superpowers and you soothed the savage beasts time and time again. That’s no small feat! Any employer who wants to know if you have what it takes to provide customer service in stressful situations will want to know this part of your story.

Find a way to tell your story, and keep in mind that HOW you tell it will make all the difference. Don’t just describe the communication struggles and the long hours standing on your feet. What did you learn? Where did you reach for resources – inside yourself and from others? How did you resolve those epic situations? What did a guest write on a comment card that totally made your day? Tell your story so that the employer understands more about YOU and how you operate, and what you’ll bring to the table.

You’re searching for ways to make a connection with this potential employer. Keep your eye on that prize – ask yourself, “How do I want this interview to end?” You want to have the opportunity to tell them who you really are and why you’re a good match for their operation.

By knowing who you are, what drives you, what your superpowers are, and, even more, what your “human kind” is all about, you’ll have a great story to tell.