Tell me your story

Describing your story is intense. If you put your life into a storybook from beginning to end, it wouldn’t be separated into chapters based on work, school, friends, family, and everything else. It would have each of those aspects intermixed with each other, growing and evolving with each page.

To get to know someone, you need to learn their whole story. Get to know their decisions- like why they graduated high school early, and what made them decide to take that study abroad trip- because it’s all based on each other. It shows you what drives people and what inspires them to do what they are doing.

Being in a recruitment and human resources role at Spreetail for the past couple months I’ve realized how imperative it is for companies to give people the opportunity to tell their story. You need to know not only their work experience, but what makes them get up in the morning, taking the day head-on. How do you do this when all they can send in is a resume and a cover letter, you might wonder? You ask them. Ask them what drives them, what their aspirations are, and why they’re where they are at this time.

Spreetail does this a number of ways. At first interaction, they ask “What makes you unique?” That question gives the candidate the opportunity to really reflect and think about what they view as important, even if it has nothing to do with their current role in the application. You collect coins? That shows a hobby and commitment. You’re a power-lifter? That shows that you know what hard work looks like, enjoy seeing the end result, and understand that there’s always work to be done. You eat bugs? Kind of weird, but different strokes for different folks, am I right?

How can companies do this for their candidates? And how can candidates do this, especially if the company doesn’t ask? Let’s start with the former.

How companies can learn their candidates’ stories:

- Ask during the application process. This is the easiest way for companies to really learn about their candidates. Ask about who they are when they’re not at work. Show interest in them as a person, not just a worker.

- Tie in their own outside experiences in the interview process. Self-disclosure makes candidates more comfortable. For example, “I personally learned a lot when I went through a tough time at work, which expanded to my personal life. Tell me about a struggle you’ve worked through, either in or outside of work life.”

How candidates can tell their story to companies that don’t outright ask:

- Tie it in on some of their questions. “… along with that work experience, one example of my communication skills is my work with a Women’s Shelter. I help people get through their tough times with x, y, and z.”

- Make it apparent on social media and on your resume. As much as we love/hate it, companies look at your social media. That could be a screen that they do during their application process, or they could want to learn more about you so they go to your social media. Show your passions, whether that’s crafting, outside sports, or play productions, show what you love. If you’ve been to a mission trip? Put it on your resume. These are a part of you, and you want tomake sure that there’s a fit not only with your work background and the company, but also with everything else that you are.

Now, full disclaimer, I am no expert on any of this. But, I do recognize how many of my different experiences that aren’t necessarily on my resume make up who I am as a person. I’d like to share that with the place that I’ll be spending anywhere from 40–50 hours a week at. And if for some reason, if who you are and the place that you thought you wanted to be don’t align, then it’s good that you figured that out early in the process as opposed to later.