Every good story shares a basic structure and answers the fundamental questions of who, what, when, where, why and how. It’s not complicated, yet many of us fail to include these details when asked to tell our stories. How well you tell your story can make a difference in anything you do – whether that?s selling yourself to a potential employer or selling your design to a client. Through your story, you make a human connection.
Make a Human Connection
The next time you get asked to tell the interviewer about yourself, be prepared to tell your story and tell it well. Yes, you may have your resume and your design portfolio in front of you, but don’t let them overshadow the person you are.
Refer back to an article we wrote on human connections called People Hire People, Not Portfolios. In it, we address the importance of building your professional network early on and utilizing it to help achieve your professional goals.
Your portfolio and design boards should be organized to be self-explanatory and able to be viewed and understood even if you are not there to explain all the details. If indeed they are, you can focus on making a human connection and telling a story that will make you a memorable candidate for the job and let the portfolio speak for itself.
A good storyteller lets the audience in and makes them a part of the experience. Don’t just recite your resume line by line. Instead, address the basic questions in a creative way.
Position the Story: The Who, What, When and Where
You are the who and your career in interior design is the what. When did you realize it was your dream and your goal? Can you recall a specific moment? Where were you at that time? Use that point in time to create the “hook” or the “lead” to your story. We love hearing when/where students first realized that interior design would be their career of choice. Share that story with anyone that asks.
The Main Part of the story: The How and the Why
It matters how you made your career choice, but it matters more what you did (or are currently doing) to make it a reality. Bring up your motivation, the people that make an impact on your every day, the events that changed your life.
Why do you think you should be the chosen one (whether it’s for a job opening or a project)? How are you different from other creatives, seemingly just like you? Have you made any professional achievements, won any awards that would elevate your level of accomplishment?
Share your aspirations, your hopes and fears. Being vulnerable may seem awkward at first, but it often levels the playing field and allows for a true human connection.
Getting Comfortable with Talking About Yourself
If talking about yourself is not your strong suit, practice it. Sit down with a spouse or a roommate and rehearse your story out loud. You will quickly realize that what sounded great in your head doesn’t quite cut it when you say it out loud.
Edit accordingly, keep it short and impactful. Take the show on the road, and practice in a social setting or at happy hours. You have nothing to lose when you are practicing with a few strangers. Once it?s time to nail that first interview, you will be more than ready.
Storytelling can be powerful. In today’s fast-paced world, your unique story could make the difference between being remembered or forgotten.
Aga Artka, Allied ASID, LEED AP, and Jenny Schrank, Allied ASID, work together to educate and motivate young design professionals to take charge of their lives and build careers of their dreams. They started a career building newsletter and are working on a career development publication, which is planned to be released in 2014.
Sign up for a monthly series of The Career Hungry newsletter. Don’t wait another day!