Storytelling: Talking About Yourself to Potential Employers

This post was written by our resident Career Coach, Elissa Harris. To sign up for a free 30-minute career consultation with Elissa, please click here.

Many MBAs use their degree to pivot or enhance their careers. But in order to secure an offer, you must excel at explaining who you are and how you can add value to your target employer. So, how do you build a compelling story?  

Know Your Target Audience

Step 1: Identify requirements for your target role. Seek to understand the skills, experiences, and attributes required for success. Check out our mbaMission Career Guides, review the Learn Educate Discover podcast, talk with classmates who have direct experience in your target areas, and/or listen to employer informational sessions. 

Know Yourself

Step 2: Catalog your pre-MBA experiences. Think about your functional and industry expertise but also the transferable skills you developed doing your job. Review your application essays and performance reviews. Reflect on what you liked most about what you did prior to your MBA program and the skills you used to achieve success. 

Step 3: Find the common threads. Ask yourself the following question: where is the overlap between the requirements of your target role and your pre-MBA experiences? Common threads could be things like serving key stakeholders and convincing them to take specific actions, analyzing data to drive decision making, understanding drivers of growth or company success, or communicating complex concepts in easy-to-understand ways. 

Step 4: Brainstorm specific examples of when you demonstrated each of these common threads. Look at bullet points on your resume for ideas. Brainstorm your biggest accomplishments and how you made them a reality. Think about the situation, your key actions, and the outcomes of those actions. 

Step 5: Identify elements that were missing from your previous role but are desirable to you and exist in your target role. Perhaps your previous role focused on one industry but a different industry excites you, or perhaps your previous role was very operational and you are now seeking to contribute in a more strategic way. 

Prepare Your Story 

Step 6: Curate the information gathered in Steps 1 to 5 to craft your story. Put yourself in the mindset of the employer; start with content that will be compelling to them and use keywords that will resonate with them. Show your excitement and commitment to their company/role. Prepare three different versions of your story:

  • A one-sentence version to introduce yourself to a larger group of people
  • A 30- to 45-second version to introduce yourself to a smaller group of two to three people or one-on-one for networking purposes
  • A 90- to 120-second version to introduce yourself one-on-one in an interview setting

Bottom line: Compile and deliver a relevant, memorable, and concise story that engages the listener while connecting the dots between your previous experiences and your interest in/qualifications for your target roles.  

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