On a recent trip to Cleveland, Ohio I presented at the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Institute’s Career Day event for investment professionals. Of the 80 participants, 50 were employed, 30 were in transition or soon to graduate from college, and everyone wanted to know how they could sell themselves more effectively. The economy is tough in Cleveland, with banks and investment companies hard hit by the recession. Competition for new business and jobs is intense!
I showed them how to create powerful success stories that tell a potential client or hiring manager about their experience and the value they deliver. The structure I gave them for Success Stories had three parts: What; So What; and Now What.
Here’s an example of a story that a candidate for a sales position could use for an interview with a hiring manager:
1. What: What you did and how you did it.
“As an account manager, I grew my territory to 125% of quota for five years at a time the industry was declining 23%. I did this by presenting to wholesale brokers who then introduced new products tailored to our target market. I conducted breakfast meetings and brown bag sessions twice a month where I educated them on the products and showed them how to do investment presentations.”
2. So What: What were the results of your efforts?
“After six months, 65% of the people I presented to became clients, and they generated an additional $25 million in revenue over the next year. That success opened the doors for us to introduce two more products, which created a strong foundation for future growth.”
3. Now What: What value does this have for the hiring manager?
“With this experience, I know I can help you open new markets, introduce products and grow your business.”
The third step is what most people leave out of their success stories. It’s important to connect your experience to the challenges and goals of your audience. Show how you can help them succeed!!
I had each participant outline a story, practice it with a partner and ask for feedback. The exercise was a great success – everyone walked away from the session with a new story they could use and a structure for creating more.
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