I recently sat through a great session run by Brian Bassett, who is a personal communication coach on delivering persuasive presentations, securing buy-in at key meetings, winning job interviews. If you have a chance to attend one of his sessions, or have need for a coach in this area, I would recommend Brian.
One takeaway from his session was, I thought, a very effective process for approaching a critical skill for all professionals, namely, how to effectively package and tell the story of your “brand.” This is important not just if you are interviewing for a job, but every day in approaching selling yourself inside your organization or with external audiences such as clients or other stakeholders. I would summarize the process as follows:
- Understanding the specific issues/challenges the person in the role will face;
- Taking an inventory of your skills;
- Developing stories/examples that demonstrate your skills in action and that relate back to one of the specific issues.
For example, let’s say we are looking to fill a VP of Marketing role for a non-profit organization. They ask you about your strengths. You think that one issue the person who gets the job will face in this role is that the board has directors with a very diverse range of opinions about the role of marketing. If one of your skills is developing consensus, then you need to provide a story that describes a situation, paints a picture of the task at hand, what actions you took, and the results. So you might tell a story about how you faced a divided management team on some issue, how you were tasked with trying to get alignment, what you did and the happy ending of how you achieved consensus. Finally, you would draw the link by saying how this is something you would bring to bear in what you imagine is a challenge in this role vis-a-vis developing alignment on a tough issue.
The trap most people fall into is they recite a list of skills or strengths but do not think in terms of a STAR story (Situation-Task-Actions-Results) or how this relates to the stated or unstated issues/challenges the person in this role will face on the job.
In summary this process involves linking three pieces: stories, skills, issues.
Brian’s site is: