Talent Acquisition

Why Storytelling Matters in Recruitment

During my recruitment career, one thing I have noticed is how rarely I refer back to my notes taken from my meetings, whether that be candidates interviews or clients requirements. I may occasionally need to refer back if there is a query over billings or salary for candidates, or commission plans on behalf of clients. But on the whole, I have always been able to “package” up a profile or client spec as a mini “story” and tell it to the relevant party.

I hadn’t thought about it until I read my cousin’s book “The Storytelling Book” about the art of storytelling that the impact of how we tell a story is what defines us as recruiters and I think it is part of the reason I have always been successful.

I don’t mean telling porky pie stories, I mean the ability to recall information; to capture it in context, to make it a compelling case to the person listening. More than an “elevator pitch,” enticing the person you are passionately telling this story to, to WANT to meet the person. Think of it in a social context: some of your most memorable nights out- you then go on to tell your friend who couldn’t make it about the person who did XY and Z. How it made you feel, the chronological order of events, what happened at the end.

The same is the format for telling stories in recruitment- we start at the beginning of the story, why someone has reached this point – to explain how you have got from A to B, we want to hear how that journey happened

I referred to my cousin earlier- a prominent marketer with global recognition for his achievements and insights- allow him to advise us further, over to you Anthony Tasgal, author, trainer, speaker and strategist – POV Marketing.

The Power of Storytelling – Stories cut through “attention spam”:

  • Our brain is designed to filter out most of what we throw at it (think of viewers watching ads, parents talking to kids, interviewers having to listen to 50 candidates.)
  • We like to think what we are ‘saying’ goes into people’s attention inbox. But most of that material isn’t memorable, meaningful or emotional (it’s not a story); so, it goes into what I call “attention spam.”
  • A story is the secret weapon to cut through attention spam.
  • We are obsessed with telling people facts (I call this “in-fact-uation”). Stories wrap facts in emotion and empathy.

Stories translate information into emotion

  • Create memories– are memorable
  • Captivate– hold us in their grip
  • Draw you in– what’s going to happen next?!
  • All join up– stories don’t have wastage
  • Have a tone of voice-they are all about character/s, so they can express your character and make you stand out
  • Stop you from just talking about facts and information
  • ….and then you learn something

Storytelling makes us care; tell me a story about you and I’m more likely to care about who you are

Story works because it is universal

  • It is all about trust and empathy: our lives and identities are written in the story.
  • No tribe or culture on the planet doesn’t have storytelling. The same can’t be said for Excel or PowerPoint.
  • Numbers Numb Us, Stories Stir Us…

Top Tips

  • Construct a Golden Thread: a story needs a thread, a skeleton or structure. Plan yours so your audience doesn’t get lost in a fog of random facts.
  • The rule of 3: try to remember and communicate no more than three ideas, words or images. It will help you remember and rehearse too, as “3 is the magic number.”
  • Be emotional: story works because it translates information into emotion. Don’t rely on facts, information or “data” to create a connection in an interview situation.
  • Create personality. Stories are based on characters, who have a personality. To be memorable (and stand out against other candidates) you need to build a convey a memorable personality; it goes without saying that it should be sincere, honest and based on who you are.
  • Grab them early: stories work best when you have something distinctive and memorable to say, try to get into it right at the start: it will be more captivating and draw in your audience.
  • End big. We filter a lot of our experiences through the lens of how they end (think of holidays you’ve had: TV series you’ve watched, books you’ve read). So, people will remember you by how you left them, the last impression you made. So, make it dramatic. And this is the point where you ask for their thoughts and feedback. Recruitment is all about people; it is all about knowledge; it is all about our networks. And for me, it is being to recall information which is locked into a person or company’s story.

What do you think? Is this how you have become successful or am I merely spouting fairytales?

By Lysha Holmes

Lysha Holmes is founding director of Qui Recruitment established in 2005 to completely challenge the traditionally poorly perceived service offered by other Rec 2 Rec providers. Lysha as Qui Recruitment is dedicated to representing the best talent to the best suited roles, focussing on placing recruiters of all levels in a candidate led service across the NW.