I’ve had the pleasure all my career of being a chameleon and interloper. Not literally, but I seem to find places where I interlope between similar places and observe, and then fitting in and transplanting ideas from other places. On horse farms as a horse vet, I’d see different ways to manage equine athletes. In surveillance, I’d see the ways different experts supported the sector they worked in, be it beef, bees, poultry or others. Now at VSGD, I see workplaces and candidates who are all unique and doing incredible work. The interesting thing to me is that in each of these places where I’ve “interloped”, it’s hard for the individuals to see what’s special about the work they do and how they do it. When they come to talk about themselves, I often hear, “I think we’re doing what everyone is doing.” This could not be further from the truth.
There’s a name for that!
The phenomenon actually has a name: the False Consensus Effect. It’s a cognitive bias where we assume that because we think and behave a particular way, that most people also think and behave the same way. “I’m doing it and it seems normal, so everyone must be doing the same thing.” This is a big part of why it is so hard to create a unique job ad for a workplace, and why it is so hard to write a great resume/CV.
Workplaces can’t see the amazing things that are different from another because they live it every day. Candidates do the same thing, minimizing their accomplishments or not seeing that they might have a unique perspective to bring. This False Consensus Effect makes for a very bland job ad or cover letter if you’re a candidate. If you’ve ever read a job ad with something like, “We’re a 2 doctor practice with a great team”, or a resume/CV with something like, “Hard working veterinarian with high attention to detail” you know exactly what I mean.
Develop your story as an antidote to boring
So what’s the antidote to boring ads and writer’s block? Telling your story in a compelling way is critical. At VSGD, we focus on connection and storytelling because it works. Storytelling together with facts increases “memorability” and understanding by over 18%. Stories and examples work because they activate multiple learning systems in our brains. 40% of us learn visually (photos, diagrams). 40% of us learn best from auditory learning (videos, audio etc). The remaining 20% of us learn best kinaesthetically (doing, experiencing, feeling). Storytelling with photos and video invokes all the types of learning! (Smith, “Leader as Storyteller”)
Sounds good… How do I make that happen?
The answer lies in effective “history taking”. We all know we get more from clients when we ask open-ended questions. When we work with a workplace and ask them open-ended questions, then funneling in on specific examples, we get rich and endearing stories. We ask for clear examples, and we see the team engaging in such a special way. That’s part of the beauty of Interview the Boss, and how we help workplaces create better job ads. Our prep calls are usually 30 minutes or less and we get so much rich information I could write a novel about the workplace that would make for killer job ad content. We do the same thing with our Resume/CV review service. We’ve become effective “workplace clinicians,” able to get to the heart of the story within a short time. You can do this with your team too.
If you’d like to tell a better story, start by asking your staff questions about your workplace. Ask yourself and clients what they love about your company or organization. You’ll likely be surprised at what you find. Use those stories to build yours and provide specific examples.
Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify is at heart, a community built on storytelling. Need help telling yours? Get in touch!
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