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How to Effectively Use Storytelling in Recruitment

Once upon a time, there was a Recruiter, roaming the land. The poor recruiter was cursed after he made fun of an HR Manager. As punishment, he had to find candidates for open positions, but whenever he filled a position, 2 new ones opened. He was never done.

But he had a special trick. He was skilled in the magic of Storytelling. Wherever he went, he explained the job posting as a story and easily enticed herds of candidates, telling them about the adventures that would be awaiting them in the new role, the glorious landscapes of the company, and the riches that would be their reward. And because of that, he lived happily ever after. The End.

Why Storytelling is Important

We already discussed in a separate article why a good job posting is important. A job posting tells the story about the role, the company, how it fits the bigger picture, what the candidate would get in return, and all of that in a way that truly attracts.

Storytelling is a very important way of conveying information. It is intended to grab, and even more importantly, hold the attention. We are inundated with information, coming from all angles, all day, self-inflicted or not. So, to cut through the noise, your message needs to stand out.

It’s the Brain’s Way of Retaining Information

The human brain is wired to remember a story better. It chooses to resonate better with information that has a certain degree of emotion. A bit of bad emotion, a lot of good – it all helps to help the brain retain. You know that: that is exactly why you always see genuine consumers and really not actors tell why they love their car, sandwich, medication, and golf clubs so much. A person, just like you, telling you how much they value their product, your brain just slurps it up.

It’s Also the Brain’s Way to Process Information

If you tell me now that you are buying a blue electric car, the only thing I am going to see on the 405 tomorrow morning, is blue electric cars. They will immediately stand out, and because of your story, my brain is primed to pick up that information. Yes, I know there were scores of blue electric cars wizzing past me before today, but I just didn’t see them. Just like there are white SUVs, that I don’t register. But 3 guesses what kind of car you are going to see on your way to work tomorrow!

Translating to Recruitment

Let’s translate this into the field of recruiting. It works both ways: both the recruiter or the hiring manager, and the candidate can use storytelling to convey their information in a way that sticks. It’s not super simple, but it is not hard, either. More than just language or use of words, it’s about the flow of the story or the so-called arc. It is the use of drama or tension, and a good, strong ending. It works to describe the purpose of the organization, or that immense project that you pulled off. Let’s focus on the company side for a moment.

Stand Out

In a time where we are flooded with information, the story has to stand out. All companies talk about sustainability. Start-ups have foosball tables. Shared-office spaces have fruit water and IPA on tap. They’re all true, but also not unique. What is it that your company truly makes stand out compared to the competition? Emphasize it, and pull it front and center.

Authentic and credible

Your story needs to be believable. What you say needs to be in line with what you find when you search on google, use sites like Glassdoor or talk to colleagues. But when you talk about a team or a department, you can explain how the team operates, the position it holds in the company, and how it achieves success. You don’t have to be 100% positive – people are smart and know that no place is perfect.

Use an Arc

Like good movies and TV shows, your story needs to have an arc. It is the line through a story. It has a beginning, preferably in the past, a story about something hard, a mistake, a life lesson or similar drama; how that turned the team, the manager or the company into something even better, and how this all points towards an amazing future. Make sure that your story creates a call for action.

Don’t Shy Away from a Bit of Drama

I mentioned it – drama is important. If you sugar coat everything, it’s too sweet of a story. It makes it unbelievable, and with that, the entire story and all the information lose credibility. Use a negative story or event to counter it. Use it in moderation, it cannot wipe out the positive, and your story needs a happy ending. It’s not a Scandinavian mini-series. Think along the lines of:

Once We Made a Huge Mistake and We Almost Lost our Most Important Account, But the Team Pulled Together and Fixed It, and Now Our Processes Have Significantly Improved, Just Like Our Profits.

It doesn’t have to be Pulitzer material. As long as you bring it with gusto and energy.

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