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To land a job, you need a compelling story. For communications consultant Judith Humphrey, that means you need a script to deliver when opportunities arise during your job-seeking journey. From your resume to thank-you note after the interview, you must rouse the recruiters to see how you can help them in the years ahead.

Since the ultimate message is “Hire Me,” she frames the suggested script around the acronym HIRE:

  • Hook – reach out to your audience with a grabber
  • Inspire – articulate your message
  • Reinforce – develop your message
  • Engage – state your call to action

“It can be used for a 30-second elevator pitch or for a full interview. The HIRE template will enable you to structure your conversations and written communications and get a strong, clear and passionately felt message across throughout your job hunt,” she writes in The Job Seeker’s Script.

You are the main character in the story as well as the writer. You need to portray yourself in a way that creates a connection with the recruiters, capturing their interest and imagination so they will see you as a deserving candidate.

Don’t get carried away. Humility is one of nine characteristics she argues is important to signal. Others include authenticity, positivity, passion, confidence and resilience. You want to show the impact you have had in previous jobs or courses you have taken. Standout candidates also show respect for others and for their companies of choice. And finally, she says a crucial quality is gratitude; be sure to show gratitude for those who have helped you and might next help you in your career’s evolution.

“Now you need a message – something that will deliver a clear idea of who you are, what you want, and why someone should hire you. Looking for a job without a point is quite simply pointless,” she says.

That message comes from reflection about how your career has taken shape and its trajectory. In some ways, it’s the answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself.”

The hook for the message script will of course not have the drama of a best-selling thriller. It’s more prosaic, varying with the situation. In an interview, it might simply be “thank you for taking the time to meet with me.” When asked to tell the interviewer about yourself, it’s the straightforward “I’d be glad to. Let me tell you about my career success.” Someone in the tech industry might be armed with these words: “I’ve spent the past four years working in the tech industry and I am looking to bringing my expertise to a new organization like yours.”

That tech candidate might continue in the next stage – inspire – with: “I have gotten great results working in a fast-paced environment that encourages drive and success.”

That must be reinforced in the next stage with proof points. Ms. Humphrey suggests the tech candidate might break the argument down, crisply, into three categories: Business, team and cultural results. Someone in marketing might try to make these three points: “I really ‘get’ marketing. I’m a big believer in market research. I’ve expanded the market reach of my present company with big sales figures.”

The final stage, engage, is a call to action that suggests next steps. At the end of an interview with your boss for an internal job opening, it might be, “I am excited about this opportunity and feel I am worthy to take on this assignment.” In a networking conversation it may be asking for a meeting or asking the other person to pass your resume onto someone.

“The HIRE Template will allow you to create a compelling story every step of the way. When you use it, you’ll have an easy-to-remember approach to designing your scripts, and you’ll distinguish yourself from job seekers who speak without a message or have so many points they appear to have none,” she says.

Quick hits

  • When a mistake flusters us, breaking our rhythm or confidence, we’re more likely to make a second mistake, observes entrepreneur Seth Godin. The second mistake is the avoidable one, he adds, and usually causes the real trouble.
  • PowerPoint’s secret weapon is the “B” button, according to presentations adviser Gary Genard. When you are in view mode, pressing that button on your keypad turns every screen that is showing a slide black, bringing everyone’s attention back to you.
  • Why is unethical behaviour, once it starts, difficult to curtail? New research found people who cheat view themselves as having less capacity for human traits such as self-control and planning. This dehumanized self-image increases the likelihood of continuing their bad behaviour in the future.
  • Author Mark Manson says your fear occurs in proportion to the importance of a task: “The more something scares you, the more necessary it is to your growth. The best things in life are found on the other side of your fear.”

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston-based writer specializing in management issues. He, along with Sheelagh Whittaker, former CEO of both EDS Canada and Cancom, are the authors of When Harvey Didn’t Meet Sheelagh: Emails on Leadership.

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