Being at the forefront of someone’s mind can help you land the job you want or a new client (if you’re an entrepreneur). And let’s be honest here, a resume, a website or an email do not really bring anyone to the forefront of someone’s mind (at least not for more than 30 seconds).
What does it take to be memorable then? I get this question often from my clients.
If you google this question, tons of websites pop up that say put a number to your accomplishments, ask stimulating questions, follow up after a meeting or interview, manage your message into soundbites, say thank you and so on. Yes, these are helpful tips, but anyone can do these things. (Note: I am a big advocate of the follow-up because lots of people forget to do this.)
So how do you actually stand out in a way that no one else can but you?
So many people out there become shy and measured when meeting new people or networking. They become self-conscious. They want to appear perfect. But guess what? Nobody buys that you are perfect because no one is perfect. And by pretending to have it together and be perfect, you will seem like everyone else who is trying to also be perfect.
So get real. Share your story and your big WHY with passion. Say you want to be a computer programmer and you are in the job search, there is a deeper reason why you want this career. The same goes for entrepreneurs who are asked why they decided to open their businesses. It’s not just some job, right?
What Getting Real Looks Like
Here’s an example that popped up in my own life and it is a story I will never forget.
It began with me talking to an evangelical Christian missionary (we will call him, Luke). At the time, I had never met a missionary. I had zero insight into what that kind of life or career was like. So I asked him why he got into this field. He told me about when he was out of college and preparing to be a pastor. Luke had a great mentor at the time who was a senior pastor at a thriving church. Luke looked up to his mentor for support in his own career journey to be a pastor, but what Luke was not aware of at the time was his mentor lacked support for himself.
Being the head of a church can be incredibly isolating; you take care of your flock but there is no one in the church designed to take care of the pastor. As you can imagine, this makes for a lonely existence and when a pastor is going through a hard time with marriage, faith and so on, there is no one to lean on or share with because your flock depends on you to be that source of strength for them. Luke’s mentor eventually could not handle this level of pressure and left his ministry, which sent his congregation and Luke into a chaotic transition. Both the congregation and Luke lost their North Star in their faith journeys and career journey, respectively, and were not sure how to proceed.
However, as a result of this experience, Luke found his calling. He wanted to create a system of support for pastors and their significant others so that they can carry on their work with their churches in a healthy way. Luke’s idea became his life’s work: traveling all over the world with his missionary organization and providing numerous pastors with the support they needed and craved.
Whether you are religious or not, the story is powerful and remains seared in your brain. Luke took a very personal experience in his life, a wound if you will, and found how he could serve the world in a way to prevent others from facing what he and his mentors’ congregation experienced. This story is Luke’s big WHY, and he turned this WHY into the career that he loves, so much so that he does not feel like it is actually work.
Humanize Yourself in Your Career with Your Big WHY
You also have such a big WHY story when it comes to creating a career you love and it is just a matter of time and self-reflection to cultivate. This big WHY is what will resonate with people you network with and interviewers because you cannot help but exude passion as you share this personal, vulnerable and authentic story of why you want to create a career in the field of your choice.
The breakdown of sharing a story:
1. Start with the story from your life
The story Luke tells is super connecting: we have all felt that lurch when our support structure suddenly disappears and that feels terrible. We can empathize with Luke on this point.
2. Describe what your vision is for turning this story into your career
Luke describes how he transformed this difficult time into his career that he loves. This part is inspiring for the audience.
I also want to note that the story you share from your life does not have to be a difficult moment necessarily. It can be a really happy experience that inspired you to create a career out of it. Luke’s experience is just one story of many.
When you speak from passion, you demonstrate that this job is not just a job to you. It is so much more. The people you speak to will feel that and remember you in a way that other people just fall away in their memories.
Be memorable. Be yourself. Share WHY you want this career. You will pop right off the page of your resume and be a person rather than just another job applicant.