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Virtual Job Club Day 6: What's YOUR Story?

A few weeks ago for my show, @Work on ABC News Now, I interviewed legendary filmmaker Peter Guber about his newest book, Tell to Win.

He argues that we’re all in the “emotional transportation business” and our successes are won by creating compelling stories that have the power to move our audience (in your case, prospective employers) into action (in your case, hiring you). Guber believes strongly — and has endless examples to prove it — that if you’re a great storyteller, you have the ability to win over any audience.

In a weak (to put it mildly) job market, if you can’t tell your story — a positive one because, quite frankly, woe-is-me windbags need not apply — you’re killing your chances of getting hired. The good news is that anyone — yup, even YOU — can learn how to be a strong storyteller.

Gretchen Gunn, who runs a successful staffing firm, helps jobseekers every day to perfect their stories. On this recorded call, she walks you through a lesson to help you develop yours.

Press the play button to listen to this 20 minute call (The audio begins 45 seconds in, so don’t worry, it’s working properly!):

In the meantime, tell us two things in the comment space below:

1. What’s the BEST part of your story? What are the most important things you’d want employers to know about you? Focus on something unique. For example, the fact that you’re reliable or a hardworker isn’t the BEST you have to offer. Be more specific.

2. What’s the UNIMPORTANT stuff that you’re having trouble keeping out of your story? For example, we get countless emails from people who focus on lack of degree, crippling divorce, near-empty bank account and so on. They share that in an effort to express the urgency of their job search. But it has the opposite effect: it drives people away instead of bringing them closer. So tell us the things that you know you need to save for pillow talk instead of for your professional communication.

Then study the difference in your answer — and others posted — so you know what to begin to build on and what to leave out.

Looking forward to YOUR story!



  1. JSG

    1. The best part of my story is that I am committed to my passions. I have worked at the same organization for over 4 years and I’m only 22. I love what we do and I believe the only way you can commit to an important project or mission is to have the glue — passion.

    2. I sometimes admit during an interview to not knowing of a specific software program that well. The reality is I can learn it. I sometimes get too personal like discuss my queer identity however I do think there is a time and place for that when going for interviews. I think for some jobs it might be conducive to discuss that.

  2. Susan Kaye

    I hope you read my story that was done when you started the virtual job club during the application all you said was just put every thing down you can think of. Yes I did it just filled up the box and more. I almost did not have enough room to put every thing down. So Please Read My Story

  3. RK

    The important thing is that I get concrete, measurable, positive results.

    The unimportant thing is all the crap I’ve been through with some past employers. I’m not sure how to handle it, though, because if I don’t discuss it, it comes up in a negative way when they contact those prior employers…and I don’t have an opportunity, then, to tell my side of the story.

  4. Hope

    My best part of my story is describing why I have such a passion for donor/volunteer engagement. As a community fundraiser, that’s what its all about! When you know you’ve been a part of a connection that helps a person really become engaged with their community to make a change. Its an amazing experiance to see happen, and its a joyous story to tell!

    Right now, my most difficult part of the conversation is simply talking about my time away from full time work. Its not that I haven’t been busy, but I haven’t been as connected into the professional fundraising community as I like (working on changing that!!). So many of the people I interview with are uber connected….so it can be a bit daunting. I’ve got some great contacts and I’m confident in my skills….but this does trip me up sometimes. It definitely ties back to self confidence….working on no fear!

  5. Maureen Reintjes

    My story ecompasses all areas of my life, volunteer and career. I’ve had the opportunity to use all my communication, leadership, social media management, PR and technical skills to make a difference on both a local, state and national level to help many. In my career I have been able to use all my skills and use all tools to improve communication. My volunteer work as the founder of a large online job club (2,200+ members) and a long-time job club facilitator show that my skills are top notch as my efforts have been noticed by the Department of Labor who chose me among just a few in the country to take part in a round table on jobs held in DC. As a victim’s advocate for the families of the missing my efforts were recognized by my being nominated to attend the Department of Justice’s NamUs Academy. But for me the most rewarding part in these volunteer ministries is the fact that I have been able to provide support through my skills and qualities to help others. I am excited to bring these proven qualities to any organization or company to maximize their communication needs.

    What’s unimportant? Everthing I do or have ever done in both my career and my volunteer work has helped shape the person I am today. I have had to work two jobs for over 6 years now and some of the part-time jobs I did to augment my full-time salary aren’t the stuff of resumes! Yet they do make up who I am. I now have a great appreciation for the maintenance staff; I am ever so polite to telemarketers now and have every bit of respect for after school day care program providers! There is no experience, no skill that is unimportant and if a hiring decision maker put their nose up at anything I’ve done to survive I wouldn’t want to be hired by them if they were the last company to be hiring in the world! I just recently had a headhunter try and treat me like a doormat. I didn’t accept this person’s behavior towards me. I was not going to be dismissed and walked upon. In the end I had flipped this person to the point they were very interested in my story.

    Everything you do, every work experience, every volunteer experience, everything makes up you. Be proud of it all!

  6. Debbie

    I am a very loyal person. I fit into any environment and am a true team player. If someone is needed to come in early or stay late, I will be the first to volunteer to do so. We spend more time at work than we do at home and I will only work somewhere that is truly a pleasure to be part of the team.

    As for non-important information, I may relate how a previous employer did not appreciate my loyalty, or never thanked me for the good job, but that should not be something to bring up in an interview. I should focus on the qualities of an employer that I would like to work with.

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  8. HDR

    The best part of my story is that I not only worked for Company A for over 16 years, through two takeovers, but was Co-owner for the first 10 years. Plus, I was Co-owner of Company B, working there part time, at the same time I was working at company A. Hopefully, this shows my involvement in the inner workings and have knowledge of all aspects of ownership. What’s unimportant that I have trouble keeping out of my story is the fact that I’m widowed (don’t want the sympathy factor), have grown children and a grandchild (shouldn’t give away my age).

  9. G S

    The best part of my story, it hasn’t happened yet, but what is unique about me is I have a diverse education.

  10. Kathy

    Thanks for the reference to “pillow talk”. That certainly helped to get my Monday off to a brilliant start. Thanks for assuming everyone has a partner!

    That said, the important part of my story is that I am adaptable. I carved out 25 years in Information Technology with a degree in European History. I used my abilities to research, analyze & synthesize in a very different environment. And I enhanced my love for the arts, languages, & all those “liberal/academic” pursuits all the while.

    The last is probably what is unimportant to an employer. As is my own perspective on why I haven’t been able to find a job. If it’s not quantifiable, or able to be stated in 25 words or less, who cares?

  11. A. R.

    Interesting look at the comments here.

    Kathy–don’t be so bitter. Talk to yourself or your cats – pillow talk need not mean a “partner.” That attitude is why you’re out of work and it’s holding you back. Sad for a smart woman. (See previous days to work off the anger.)

    GS–Gotta get specific. An employer will want it. FInd something to share.

    Debbie–Loyalty is expected. Give something that makes you more unique.

    Looking forward to the 2pm call since I’m stuck on mine. THanks everyone and good luck to you all.

  12. AB

    The best part of my story is to talk about the things, in my career and personal life, that I am proud of. In this way I can show the passion I have for my job and my life and share my accomplishments.

  13. Barbara Cann

    I’m smart and creative, good at zeroing in on the issues and solving the problem. I have no fear diving in and learning something new I’ve not had to do before. I’ve had a range of experience from being an actor, director, writer, editor through all kinds of admin and customer service roles, purchasing and office manager roles — so I think this gives me an appreciation how projects and systems affect different ‘departments’ which helps to show ways to improve their interactions. I am a skilled communicator, comfortable in a leadership role and I enjoy being a mentor.

    The unimportant? It’s nothing I discuss, but it’s there in front of their eyes when I walk in for the interview. I walk with a cane thanks to a drunk driver and from the economic struggle the last few years I’ve been living on crap food so I’ve gained a lot of weight. This self image never leaves my head so perhaps I’m projecting that into the interviewer’s eyes as he/she observes me. And if I’m blindingly honest with myself, because I am so frustrated and depressed about this whole economic situation and the fact that I am not living but merely surviving from day to day, I could very well be unconsciously projecting a giant chip on my shoulder when I sit across the desk in an interview.

  14. PL

    Geez, there’s some cranky broads on this one today! 🙂 To the lady that requested Tory “read her story”, does she have a CLUE how many of us there are and that that initial data collection was probably more to help us than for reading material for Tory? And – hey – if you have no one to have “pillow talk” with, no need to be bitter, just talk to a girlfriend – same dif, probably better results!
    A.R. – loyalty IS expected but not everybody is capable of it, so it IS unique in my opinion. All you did was critique other people, what’s your story?

    What an employer doesn’t need to know about me (and that I would find completely inappropriate to tell them) would be that I’ve been out of work for almost two years, I am about down to my last 1/8″ of confidence, that I just got turned down for a job where the biggest responsibility was picking up a kid at school and that I’m basically lost.

    What a perspective employer DOES need to know about me is that I am, like many of the women here, 100% team player; once I’m on the team I’m ON the team. I am willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done bar none and I am driven by cause and I’m a good leader AND a good follower, depending on what the occasion calls for. I can take initiative with the best of them and I can also accurately follow direction. I don’t know that any of this is a “story” but it’s the best I have for now. 🙂

  15. WR

    1. Most important part of my story is that I have worked in various organizations and it has allowed me to sharpen my leadership skills and the ability to be a team player any very diverse groups. I am a self starter. I am a leader but also know how to follow.
    2. Over stating skills and education has been a problem because it can be intimidating to others.

  16. Tory Johnson

    Hey – it’s Tory Johnson here! Yes, I do read all of the posts. This isn’t about “data collection” — in fact, if you’ve followed along, then you know we alter some of our plans for content based on what everyone’s sharing and talking about. Hope that makes sense. Glad to see that 99.9% of your comments are helpful and civil…don’t like seeing when something turns negative. Who has room for that? Hope you all dial in at 2PM ET for Gretchen. We’re rooting for you.

  17. RK

    What I see in reading these comments is that it’s frustrating to be unemployed. No big surprise there. I am encouraged by the fact that we all have positive things to say about ourselves…what a plus! I sometimes feel that my self-dignity is negatively impacted by not having a job. I wish I HAD jobs for all of us!!!

  18. JE

    Just came from a job interview – don’t think it went all that well even though I managed to include what I think is important about me. What is that? I’m motivated by a feeling of accomplishment, I thrive under pressure, and I able able to “hit the ground running” in just about any situation because of my unique combination of education and experience. What isn’t important should be my age (61, so I can’t really get around that), the fact that I’ve been out of work most of this year (restoring my home & life after a major house fire this past January) or how badly I want and need a job. Like several others, I am afraid that my desperation may come across subtly in an interview. I have TLC’s What Not to Wear on for background noise and wish I could get a make-up makeover so that I present the best possible image when I actually get that interview. Also, I’m quite tired of people who assume that if I can’t find a job, either I’m lazy or I’m just not looking hard enough. Should I mention the house fire when I’m asked about not working very much this year? I certainly don’t want to seem like I’m looking for a “sympathy vote.” Thanks, Tory and participants for all the help. I look forward to the rest of the program.

  19. KM

    The best part of my story is moving to NYC with no particular prospects and no support system. I knew staying out in western Jersey was a death knell on my design career, so I moved into the city and started networking, sending out resumes and really getting out there. My decision has led to several freelance positions/assignments that I wouldn’t have gotten had I not made the decision to LEAP.

  20. debbie paul

    the best part of the the story is….My motto is the worst they can say is no……but now at a later date? I love the event planning field and the face to face solicitation for donations and sponsorship. After researching a company, I can win them over in a benefit for their company and mine by saying yes.

    Unimportant stuff keeping quiet about is that I was wrongful discharge for no just cause. (Falsely accused for stealing a day old newspaper. I fought for 6 months and no evidence, I proved them wrong But still unemployed and a black mark on my record.)I know you don’t speak bad about any past employer but it is hard. I have learned to do a spin on the situation and turn a negative into a positive. I began to focus on improving my skills while job searching. But it is frustrating because of my past employer actions I am in this situation, unemployment.

  21. Barbara Cann

    To JE —

    I can utterly empathize with you! MY home burned down several years back and not only did I lose everything (and I do mean everything) in the fire, but I also lost my home-officed freelance business as a writer, editor and photographer.

    As much as I believed I was able to walk away from loss, I find now that it has become the cornerstone in my life story without my realizing it. Things in my mind are automatically either “before” the fire, or “after.” And for me, it is as though that one event triggered an entire series of downturns — my partner passing, lay-off, car accident, etc, etc. — all things that taken individually I’d have no problems dealing with and maintaining a great outlook. Taken together however, the cumulative affect has been a gradual erosion of my good life, my outlook and my confidence. Not that I’m not strong and getting out there each and every day, but keeping it in, and keeping my sanity and my smile is grinding.

    Dear JE, I send you my very best wishes for your triumphant recovery!

  22. EE

    I built a business from a one person operation to a 10 person operation selling sophisticated software to an industry I had no experience in. I leaned what I needed, overcame my fear of pubic speaking, hired the right people, used consultants in a cost effective manor and was one of two women in the North America to be successful.

    I went from owing a company to managing a retail store to not working for 3 years. My big fear is revealing my emotional baggage around these changes. Need to be able to tell my story cohesively, in a positive way.

  23. PVG

    For years it has been my job to tell someone else’s story. I have written words for CEO’s, politicians, and even animated characters; giving them the words to describe themselves, their business or philosophy or even to entertain when they couldn’t find the words themselves. So I think one of the things I do best is feature others…put them and their stories in the spotlight. Another part of my career has been helping others visualize their story through film and video and ultimately marrying their words and their visuals into an interesting and compelling story that sells their product, shares their values or entertains their audience. In this business as well as others, sometimes things don’t go as planned, and I believe I am able to turn a problem around, making it appear as it was planned all the while or embracing a problem as a new opportunity to make the original plan better.

    The biggest issue that I don’t want to share on an interview is that I am somewhat intimidated by technology. I feel that I learn quickly, but I need to be brought up to speed in some cases. Even though aspects of my career have a technology element to them, my real value is in seeing the big picture and attending to the details to make someone’s story come to life on screen. While I need to know what certain technology offers to a project, I prefer to rely on the experts to implement it in my projects.

  24. V C

    I haven’t been getting the chance to tell my story in the first place when I am not being offered an interview. I write well-thought-out cover letters, make sure I target my resume to the position at hand, and still yield nothing. So before I even talk up the important and unimportant information in my story, let’s start with the opportunity to tell a story, any story, to begin with.

  25. MJ

    Whatever I do, I do it with care and to the best of my knowledge. If I do not know something, I find the way to accomplish it. My heart and head determines the way. I care for those who surround me and for those whose job I have been entrusted. I believe in justice, spiritual growth, respect for oneself and others dignity, peace, tolerance, and persevering in life.
    My trouble is not being able to convey who I am to others. I may seem aloof, not caring, all the opposite of who I am. Only those who can get to know me, can actually understand and comprehend that “I am who I am” no false image is presented.

  26. Debbie G.

    From assignment above:
    1. The Best part of my story?
    I am constantly learning and expanding myself in both knowledge and skills, in professional and personal areas of interest. This enables me to be an informed and creative problem solver/solution finder. I get excited by challenges and project an attitude of excitement when facing challenges alone and with a team. I am a natural coach and mentor always looking for ways to share what I know to help others grow.
    2. The Unimportant stuff:
    I (and my husband) are more than ready for me to get back into gainful employment, I am (surprisingly) a little nervous about having to sell myself as person over 50, if I won the lottery I wouldn’t want to work for anyone else, I am not embarrassed about my employment gap of 3 years (I have in fact enjoyed it).

    From Gretchen’s Call – Outlining my story:
    3 compelling personal experiences that have led me to this career path:
    Being a confidante and a “go to” person for people I meet or know who are facing new challenges in their businesses or in their careers and I love when I can help them meet their challenge and work towards their potential;
    Becoming involved in various Boston area arts and writing communities and finding that I have strong creative skills, knowledge, and talent as well as my business and technical skills;
    Using (and strengthening) my skills in developing plans, processes and systems to manage and complete meaningful personal projects (including my first novel, which I am in the process of writing)

    Thanks for another mind opening assignment that hits exactly where I need help.

  27. ED

    As a health educator, I walk with people as they change their life which impacts others: Pastors walking off pounds, increasing energy and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol; tobacco users who quit smoking or chewing tobacco; young people developing leadership skills to mentor children; teachers learning to teach life skills to students, and college students embracing advocacy training to change campus policy.

    Moving to a new state is the unimportant stuff to leave out.

  28. TSH

    1. The best part of my story, I have a passion for helping people and I believe in character and integrity. There is a way to balance being concerned about your direct reports and giving correction is needed. Also, there is nothing wrong with being honest.
    2. I am new to job searching; therefore I am not sure what will I might say that is unnecessary, if I am still seeking employment this time next year. My hope is that I will continue to keep a positive attitude and explore every opportunity.

  29. JSE

    MY STORY – Assignment from Gretchen’s call

    The influence of my Chilean born high school Spanish teacher forms an integral part of my story. Senora Katzen set high performance standards for her class and she helped us to meet these expectations. From her, I developed a strong likeness for the Spanish language and also a desire to work hard to be successful. I too wanted to influence students in a similar manner, helping them to achieve success in all areas of their lives regardless of their background. This passion led me into the arena of secondary education. When I was ready to make a career change, the skills and experiences that I gained as a high school Spanish teacher were easily transferable to the new career as an HR Manager. I embraced the challenge of retraining and these skills and experiences helped to break into the HR Profession. Such skills as mentoring, training and development, motivation are common features needed as an educator and as a HR Manger.
    My passion for learning and for enhancing the human potential underlies the reason for my strong involvement over the years in various PTA initiatives in high schools, with a mission to help schools integrate efforts of students, parents, teachers and the community to achieve educational goals. A present initiative in which I am involved is called PalsPLUS. Here I am part of the leadership of this parental involvement group and this involvement underpins my strong interest and effectiveness in the areas of training and development and productivity.
    I am a risk taker and I best evidence this by referring to the times I have changed locations, operated in cultures different from my own and been able to embrace different types of people, up to making a major career change as I did.

    My most recent employer has used terms such as “played a key role in develoloping our HR Department and propelling the organization where it is today”
    I am prepared to bring a similar energy and passion to this position which I seek.

  30. Maria

    The best part of my career story (and it is a story) is that I am a quick learner. I have switched industries several times, and take with me many lessons from past positions that I can apply to future jobs. I am never afraid of switching gears, and know my educational skills, combined with my experiences in the work place, as well as volunteer experiences, can take me far.

    As far as what’s unimportant, I was laid off without cause twice when I was in the aerospace industry (unfortunately, that is typical in aerospace) and once when I was a new hire at a company was sold to another and they had to cut costs. In my heart of hearts, I know those weren’t my fault, but the emotional scars are there. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m not as physically attractive as I was years ago and I think that lack of confidence will come thru in an interview. Probably why I am so good at phone interviews!

  31. AMD

    I’m a quick learner and i have worked in many fields as administrative assistant in the last five years. I have learned a lot from many people that I have interacted with. As I continue my studies at Fisher in completing my degree. I also volunteer for causes that dear to my heart.

  32. MMP

    Once upon a time there was a woman who raised two children to adulthood while she continued to create works of art, earned money from home by sewing, and formed several successful business partnerships–with friends and family members, no less. She home-schooled her sons for three years, emphasizing for them the importance of strong relationships and community involvement. This woman returned to school recently to pursue a long-held dream of participating in the building industry using her art and design talent. She graduated at the head of her class, and made contacts everywhere she went in the three years it took to get her degree. She loves to work with clients at all stages of a project, and to be part of the teams that exceed their expectations.

    (Enter the Big, Bad Wolf): This woman tends to mention her insecurity with certain software programs. Her storytelling voice must be stronger, and her manner more sure. She makes lame jokes about her age.

    Thanks for reminding me about the importance of storytelling, Tory!

  33. Linda

    The most important thing I want a future employer to know about me that is authentic, unique and genuine is my honesty, trustworthiness, and that I have never stopped learning and that every crisis in my life has brought me back to college and the learning of new skills. That when I have not succeeded at a job I have always asked what went wrong and then corrected the problem. My learning disability allows me to think outside the box and this is a definite positive when brainstorming any situation for multiple solutions.

    A good example of that is as a single parent, when my children asked for a dog I contacted “Seeing Eye” of Morristown, NJ. We, the boys and I, raised Vesper to be the eyes of a person who would never get to see anything or go anywhere without Vesper’s eyes to guide her. It taught us all to think of ways that others might not choose to achieve our goals.

    I love history and choose to be a re-enactor from the Renaissance through the Civil War time periods. I worked for a merchant for over 8 years selling historically period correct items out of a tent. I needed to be knowledgeable, affable, and period correct in all aspects of my clothing and personae. It was this attention to details that allowed me to convince others that I was who I was portraying in history.

    My father and grandfather made me the person I am today. My father always asked for 100 percent and more and my grandfather showed me with patience how to achieve every goal that I had set my mind to. Our cherry pitting contest never achieved a true winner but we both remembered it fondly as an experience where the true goal was sitting talking over our troubles in a cherry tree and finding solutions.

    I am a great fit for your company because I will have researched you and your goals and seen that we are both on the same page. I will always give 100 percent, be on time, accurate, knowledgeable, seeking to save or make your business money, have ideas to suggest that are cost effective and innovative, and the desire to achieve whatever goal you set before me on time and under budget, if that is possible. I am an overachieving perfectionist and have brought that drive to my job every day.

  34. KE

    The best part of my story is that I love learning about different countries, traveling, international issues, and the performing arts. Using the performing arts as a way to promote positive cultural understanding between countries (especially between the U.S and other countries, since our media has a mixture of both positive and negative things) is what I’m passionate about. The worst part is talking about how I didn’t study performing arts like drama or music and other subjects like media communications in college. Sometimes I also tend to emphasize the school that I went to or programs that I participated in a little too much. Also, saying that I’m not completely sure how I will achieve my goals, but I still have them, can be bad too.

  35. MB

    The best part of my story is I will do anything to get the job done. No matter how tired I am I can work for hours to get something done. I often use the analogy of an athlete playing hurt and pushing twice as hard.

    I don’t have a problem with the unimportant stuff. I believe the my personal and my professional life are two separate things. I work very hard to keep it that way.

  36. DWS

    The best part of my story is my coaching/mentoring skill set. I spent 5 years in teaching/coaching before I entered the oilfield industry. I like watching teams grow from the awkward stage to the championship team form at the end of their 4 year H. S. playing career. I like doing the same thing today with team members as well as customers.

    My pillow-talk items that need to be left out of my story for the recruiters is the fact that the BP disaster of April 2010 actually cost me my last job, as BP was our largest customer, by far. I also need to not mention the fact that age discrimination is rampant, and employers do not want to pay for experience.

  37. s

    The best part of my story: Having me in your workplace means having a good personality around who’s not afraid of challenges! I am a lot of fun to work with, I have a great sense of humor and when the going gets tough, I don’t crack, I take it all in stride. Nothing flips me out, no insane deadlines or insane clients…it’s a “can-do” attitude and can-do without panicking!

    Unimportant would be the personal stuff, which seeps in over time. Unimportant is being canned from plenty of jobs (not always because of my work, fortunately) but it affects my self-confidence because I stop believing in myself.

  38. CR

    The best part of my story depends on the job I’ve applied to. I pay attention to the job description, try to put myself in the hiring manager’s shoes and think about what they want and what skills, etc would make the perfect canidate. Whatever those skills are, that’s what I highlight in the interview.

    Worst part of my story is that I left my hometown, and came back a year ago. Empoyers ALWAYS ask me why I moved away and why I came back. Neither answer is any of their business and I usually bring the conversation back to what I want to do NOW and how the skills and experience gained while I lived in another state can benefit them.

  39. BLM

    Growing up in an Ohio suburb, my eyes were always to the sky, imaging all the mysterious places the airplanes were heading. Even as a child, I had an undeniable curiosity for other cultures, and a thrill seeker mindset, facing new adventures with bravery.

    My adventuresome spirit lead me to places near and far. From sailing with dolphins the British Virgin Islands, to swimming with sea turtles in Mexico, to snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, to riding mopeds in Tokyo, to eating bulls tail in Spain, to sky diving in Ohio farm land, and hiking volcanoes in Hawaii..I faced each thrill with passion and enthusiasm.

    Each one of my travels and adventures, allowed me to face a fear I did not know I had. Before doing something exciting, I would always get a nervous feeling in my stomach. Sometimes nervous enough to seriously consider backing out of whatever I had signed up to do. But something would always make me take the chance. Some feeling, deep inside would encourage me to seize the opportunity, knowing, that I may not get a chance to do this again.

    I am facing a cross roads in life. I have a very successful career as a retail manager for a Fortune 50 company, but I need to make a change to gain more work life balance (75 + hours a wk = tired). This time my thrill is not about traveling to new places, but it is about a journey within.

    Not knowing what career move I want to make is scary, daunting even. But I do know this, I have a proven track record of taking scary and daunting and turning them into colorful stories I still tell my friends about. So with a deep breathe and a confident smile, I am setting out to find what I truly what to do in my next career, any suggestions? 🙂

  40. Mary

    I have always had a passion for detective stories, puzzles, and foreign culture, along with a flair for art and color. In the beginning, I wanted to know how businesses were run so I became an Internal Auditor in order to travel to many places, observe new processes, and interview people at several different levels in an organization. After discovering that I have a gift for getting people to disclose information, I decided that I wanted to help disadvantaged people so I went back to school for a law degree and then used it initially doing insurance fraud cases until I was comfortable with the civil litigation process. After pitting my wits against some of the best criminal minds, I moved into the social service arena and began representing children whose parents abandoned them to the mercy of the state child and family system. I was able to use my business background on behalf of lower income clients and obtain cooperation from people who previously did not listen. However, the children who were my long term clients grew up and now need to find jobs in an area that does not hire public school or GED graduates, and I now want to use my investigative skills prosecuting companies that are not following the laws any more, nor providing the workers with the few benefits they are legally entitled to.

    The part of my story that I have a hard time keeping out I call the Cost of Caring, which involves the way that public sector jobs are often given to those with political connections who want to keep the system the way it is, and who really do not care if the public gets served or not.

  41. AW

    Wow. Is it bad that I’m going to have to think about this answer? Based on the phone call and then reading the questions, I’m really struggling to identify those things that make me unique and stand out from the crowd. I have few things in mind, but figuring out a way to tell them in a story in a cohesive fashion is the challenging part. I also have the same trouble with an “elevator” pitch. But this is exactly what I need. The only reason I even answered is because I am thankful that Tory is doing this. I am doing the work, but in this case, I’m stumped. I’m not giving up though. I’m going to think about it for tonight and post a better answer tomorrow.

  42. Alison

    The best part of my story is my ability to adapt to different situations and appreciate cultural differences. As I grew up and started to think about what I wanted to go to college for one thing was always certain. I wanted to study abroad. My family rarely traveled anywhere let alone take a vacation. Therefore, my first plane ride was to London for my summer study abroad program. I was nervous and scared, however by the end I didn’t want to leave. The best part about this trip was learning about myself. In those 6 weeks, I learned more about myself than I did my whole prior 20 years! I learned of the importance of independence as well as group involvement. Sometimes it’s best to go out on your own and get your check list completed, while other people had wonderful ideas that I never considered doing. Overall, that experience was one of the best things I ever experienced. I loved it so much that I made a goal to return to Europe after my graduation. I saved my money, worked 2 jobs my senior year, and made it happen. I want others to share in that opportunity. One of my favorite quotes is “the world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”

    As for the worst part of my story is that I am extremely hard on myself and take offense when people ask what I’ve been doing since I graduated from college. I have always had a job although mainly in retail. I even worked 2 jobs for 6+ months. It’s hard finding a career out there with the economy. Additionally, I have mentioned that my father was sick and passed away after my graduation. I do not like telling people this because I feel like it’s an excuse. It’s a part of my reality. Although, both companies I told this to during interviews did offer me jobs…

  43. terri

    The best part of my story is that I have alot of customer service experience which can relate to many jobs. I always try to let the employer know of my experienceing and what I have done before but not in a bragging kind of way.

    My weakest part of my story is the part where I have to tell them I was layed off and when they ask when did you work last I have to explain the job gap. I think it really hurts my chance.

  44. PK

    Best part of my story? I love research and am determined to find an answer to your question. I bring dedication and determination to the table.

    Unimportant part? I’m overqualified. I need this to job to work.

  45. LCann

    I took the risk to make a career change as a corporate Executive Assistant for an undeveloped entrepreneurial project shortly after 9-11. Doing so would allow flexible time for assisting a mentally ill family member (an outpatient).

    To start up an after-school project, I enrolled in a master’s degree health promotion and education program. My journey propelled me to developing a 7-discipline program.

    On July 16, 2011, one discipline called “Community Health Education Series-Thyroidism” (CHESt) was launched. It will comprise 8, one-hour series for building awareness about the impact of stress on the endocrine system including mental health. The goal is to develop, empower, serve people by evaluating relationships, abilities, tenacity and efforts (D.E.S.P.E.R.A.T.E) at work, home and community. Learning objectives are: listening; values; and compassion. Teaching styles are with zeal, integrity, boldness and amenity. Working along with an endocrinologist as the program continues to develop could be a win-win team effort.

  46. das

    My best is that I have had an extraordinary career working in Business Development and Sponsorship Sales with Celebrities and Sports at both Small and Large companies.

    My worst is that I don’t have the education background having gone to nursing school and not finishing. My education doesn’t reflect my career path.

  47. DKCG

    My best is that I am a passionate administrator. I believe in integrity, honesty and loyalty. I love doing what I do in administration from managing projects to writing policies and even covering phones when a team member is out.

    My worst is that I don’t have any certifications to support my education (CPA, GFOA). Thus, my expertise is not reflected as it should be in my career.

  48. AW

    Who loves a new perspective? I know I do. That’s is one of my best stories. For as long as I can remember, I have always been one to make sure I understand all of the facts before I establish which “side” I will choose. Whether it’s personal or work related, if someone is so emotionally tied to a situation, it might be difficult to come to a resolution. I like to think of myself as a bridge, explaining both sides to the parties involved. Most times the result ends up positive. Even for the few times that it is not, at least all parties involved have an understanding of one another.

    The most unimportant part of my story is that I allow the outside forces such as news about the economy or my circumstances to creep up in my mind and it causes so much doubt. But no more! I’ve got a story and now I’m off to my build my brand! (yes!)

  49. Victoria

    The best part of my story is that I am really interested in other people, finding out about them and figuring out how my product/service can benefit them. I am excellent at relationship building and maintaining those customer relationships for years.

    The most unimportant part of my story is when recruiters ask me to take them back to what I did in my twenties until the present. I’m 42! The only time period that is significant for my job search is my B2B sales experience, if you have to choose because of time constraints and relevancy.

  50. Gwen

    The most important things that I want employers to know is that I never miss a deadline, that I am excellent at managing my time and the time of others. What is unique about me is that I have degrees in Commercial Art, Math, Art History, History, Antropology and some training in secretarial administration. I am constantly taking seminars and classes on all kinds of interesting stuff. All of this relates to the uniqueness of me because I know how to do all kinds of different things. How to get this across in a job interview is a puzzler because if I was to tell employers about my educational background they would think that I think I am smarter than they are and not hire me anyway.

    The UNIMPORTANT stuff that I am having trouble keeping out of my story is the hugh gaps between employment. I went to grad school and was working full time when I lost my job of 5 years. At that point I concentrated on getting through school and didn’t look for work, then after I finally graduated, the economy went sour and I could only find temp work, still doing that today, and employers don’t want to hear that temp work is all I can get.

  51. KBH

    I am a couple of days behind, hence the late posting. By the way, Gretchen Gunn’s phone session was great! Very helpful in helping to identify the most unique and positive qualities to present to a prospective employer.
    In my case, I grew up in a military family and moved every 3 years sometimes to live in some very distant places. For me, this was a way of life and I considered it exciting, but also very normal. All of my friends were military families, and we all were in the same boat. Every 3 years we moved, leaving friends behind and making new friends at the next station. It wasn’t until I grew older and met kids who were not in the military, that I realized that many kids growing up never moved at all and never traveled far away from home. I thought this was very strange.
    Basically, I had travel and adventure in my very foundation and it has stayed with me every since. I view change (whether change in assignment, job, or goal) as a challenge and embrace it, rather than fear it or shy from it.
    As far as the detrimental stuff, no one needs to know of any past mistakes, unless there was a lesson to be learned in which case I will admit the mistake and also stress how it helped me the next time.

  52. EW

    The best part of my story is that no matter what happens or how long I have to look for a job, I will never quit. I get down from time to time, but try to keep myself busy. That is one reason why I went back to College. I had been laid of from my last two jobs and work was hard to find, so I made my time useful. I guess what I am trying to describe would be perseverence.

  53. KC

    The best part of my story is that I’m an effective team player. My line of work requires me to think out of the box, be quick on my feet, be detailed oriented and prioritize under tight deadline. I interact with people from all walks of life so the adaptability and heavy verbal communication are all skills I possess. I am a quick learner and a high deliverer plus more. This is my story.

  54. PAL

    The three compelling experiences that led me to my current career were:
    1. While in college, I was learning a coding language. There were mistakes in my prgram. The students who ran the lab programmed the application to give prank like answers. My report said, “There 20 mistakes, now we both know something is wrong!” This incident spurred me master computer technology.
    2. Later, my combined background in career counseling and computers landed me a position as career director for a US Coast Guard base in the mid 90’s. Personal PC’s and the Internet were taking off in popularity. I taught my clients to use the new PC’s to write resumes and to use the Internet to search for jobs on then new career sites like I worked with both military and civilians as well as their families. I learned I loved teaching others to master computer skills. I also loved helping people transition to new careers.
    3. Now I am helping teachers learn to integrate technology in their classrooms. Students range in skill levels from millenials to those career changers who had not used computers when they were last in college. Students ctreate an e-portfolio they can use to find employment or apply to advanced educational programs.

    What these stories let employers know is my skill with making technology relevant in the careers of their employees.

  55. ST

    I’m a great problem solver and very detailed oriented. I am able to research and locate the answers to get the problem resolved. Despite the walls I may come in contact with on my journey I still rise to move forward.

  56. ST

    I guess the unimportant stuff is welling on why I never got a response after what I felt was a slam dunk interview. *sigh*

  57. SB

    Interesting presentation. Thank you. I am working on my “presentation.” I recently had the opportunity to do a mock interview, at the last moment, so did not have time to prepare. I rambled on too long, so I agree, it is important to be prepared ahead of time. The advice I came away with is to match yoru story/your skills with the needs of the employer you are interviewing with. They don’t really want a short biography per se, they want to know about the relevance of your skills to their needs.

  58. MJD

    Great telephone lecture. My most important quality is that I have a very good work history. I have a lot of experiience and and a great skills, organized, reliable, and understand how to priortize.

    Downer: Never being called for that interview. What am I doing wrong.

  59. tmobile g2

    Wow! Thank you! I usually required to write on my website something like that. May i implement part of your post to my site?

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