The Power of Storytelling

  By Chris Heinz  |    Tuesday May 25, 2021

Category: Expert Advice, Recruiting



One of the greatest elements of effective recruiting is storytelling!

Most of you reading this are in the Recruitment field, but it doesn't matter if you are a Recruiter/Talent Access Professional like myself and my team, or the person interviewing someone they need to hire for their company. If you aren't good at storytelling, you aren't maximizing your opportunity to attract the potential person you want.

There's an old saying in sales: "Facts tell and stories sell." That is just as true today as it was when it was said years ago.

 

BLAH, BLAH, BLAH

That’s what I know I’ve sounded like when I wasn’t doing a good job selling the opportunity.  I’m sure that’d never happened to you though!

When you are talking with a candidate via zoom, phone, or in person, are you telling them...how long the company has been in existence, the number of people it employs, their standing in the industry, blah, blah, blah?

Or...are you sharing a story about WHY the company is great...HOW they treat their employees...WHAT they stand for? 

Do you share EXAMPLES that back these stories up?

 

Yes, there is a time to tell the facts and features. But, when you are trying to convince a typically sought-after professional that this company is the right place for them, these facts will NOT persuade them to listen further.


COMPONENTS OF A GREAT STORY

When we talk about telling a great story, I’m not talking about the fictional kind.  I’m talking about a story that sells the greatest aspects of the OPPORTUNITY.  People don’t go to work for facts or desks or just for free coffee (that might be tempting).  

They will consider making a move if the opportunity:

  • Is better than their current role
  • Is more stable/has more growth than their current role
  • Has a better team than their current role
  • Closer/remote than their current role
  • Is the compensation package better
  • Is there more security with the new position

When crafting a great story about the opportunity, I’ve always followed the C-O-B model. No, I’m not talking about corn on the cob, but “Company-Opportunity-Boss.

Company

Yes, you should let them know if the company has been around a long time.  Yes, you should tell them if they are a category leader.  Yes, you should explain sales volume (if appropriate).  But, far too many recruiters just stop there.

You should give them examples (stories) about WHY they are a great company.  Give examples of HOW they treat their staff.  Explain WHAT others think about them.  These are compelling reasons for someone to want to learn more about this company so they can decide if this is the type of company they might want to work for.

 

Opportunity

The opportunity portion of the story is NOT the job title.  While the responsibilities might be similar between different companies for similar roles, that is not an effective story.  

Help your candidates understand what is great/challenging/opportunistic/exciting (you pick the adjective) about the opportunity.  Let them understand how they could come in and look like a hero if they do x, y, and z.  Even better, share how a previous hire was quickly promoted because they did similar things.

These are the types of stories that will get the prospective candidate to pause for a moment longer and potentially envision themselves in the role.  A job title does not.  After all, they already have one of those.

 

Boss

While I’m not crazy about the title “boss,” I stick with it because C-O-B is easier to remember than C-O-L (Leader).

There are always fluff lines that are said about the boss:  “They have an open-door policy.” (no boss has ever said they have a closed-door policy); “They aren’t a micromanager.” (few bosses would actually say they are a micromanager).

The better stories you can share about the person they’d be reporting to along with those above them, the more you will draw them in.  Can you share their rise in the company?  Can you share a story about their true leadership style?  Is there a great story about how they interact with their team?

Speaking of teams, make sure to share compelling stories about the team they’d be working with.  The reality is that people review new opportunities and evaluate if this is:

  • A company they want to work for…
  • A leader who can inspire them and help them grow/become a mentor...
  • A team that believes they’ll get along with and prosper working well with...

Maybe an even better approach is calling it C-O-T ... T stands for Team!

 

BRING IT ALL TOGETHER

These stories, if told effectively, can be powerful in every element of your recruiting process: ads, interviews, an employment-engagement section of your website.

A word of caution:  be careful not to be too long.  It would be easy to string these stories together and next thing you know, you’re 15 minutes in and they haven’t spoken once.  Have stories ready for each of the segments of conversation.  They don’t need to be told concurrently.  In fact, I’d discourage you from do so.  Short and concise is the most effective.  

This means one thing:  you must be prepared and you must practice your storytelling techniques.  If not, you will be swallowed whole by the dreaded “umms” and “ahhs.”  If you are prepared, you also won’t fall into the ‘make stuff up trap.  You never want to pull stories out of your ‘you know where’ (‘your hair’ is what I was thinking -- get your mind out of the gutter) because they will bite you most times.

A powerful story about your opportunity where you eloquently describe why and how this is a truly incredible opportunity will get the prospective candidate listening.  If they start listening, you can draw them in with more factual stories.  Once you start learning about their story and what is missing from an ideal scenario, you can bridge the two together.

Draw them in...get them listening...Tell more stories!

 


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