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Personal Branding with Your Challenge - Actions - Results (C-A-R) Stories

By Meg Guiseppi

3 LinkedIn Insider Personal Branding Success SecretsA powerful job search strategy, structured storytelling is a compelling way to draw people in and illustrate your unique promise of value in the marketplace.

When you link your value proposition with your personal brand and frame it all around "career success stories," you make it easier for hiring decision makers to picture you in the job they're trying to fill.

Using the structured approach described below to develop your success stories will help you compellingly showcase your contributions to companies, and reinforce your personal brand.

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The Value of Challenge-Actions-Results (CAR) Stories

An extremely useful personal branding tool, storytelling can help you uncover your key personal attributes, if you're having difficulty defining them.

  • While developing your stories, you'll probably notice that certain qualities, strengths, and areas of expertise consistently run through each one. [Essential to answer the greatest-strength question.]
  • Story telling will also help you become accustomed to articulating your value.

As you'll see, storytelling can make all the difference in your resume, online profiles, other job search marketing documents, job interviewing, and networking.

What Are C-A-R Stories?

Bring together your career success stories using either of the following structured approaches:

Challenge – Action – Results (C-A-R)

          OR

Situation – Task – Action – Results (S-T-A-R)

How to Create Your C-A-R Stories

Here's how it works:

Describe a few of your most important contributions to your employers within the past 10 years or so.

Think in terms of business value that had significant impact on the company. Think about the strengths you have that you and others always rely on you to make things happen.

Answer these questions for each of the situations you describe:

C -- CHALLENGE

What was a specific CHALLENGE (or Situation) facing the employer and/or your team? Were you/the employer facing particularly difficult odds with this situation? What were the stakes?

A -- ACTION

What ACTION(s) did you take to meet the challenge and improve things (whatever the goal was or whatever needed turning around)?

R -- RESULT

What were the long and short term RESULT(s) that positively impacted the company? Did you meet the goal and/or turn around the situation? How long did it take to see the results? Monetize the results and/or use hard facts whenever possible.

Read Be a STAR in Your Next Interview to understand how the S-T-A-R stories are developed and used for interviewing.

What Career Stories Should You Tell?

Maybe what shines through in your career success stories is your talent for being resourceful, analytical, collaborative, organized, decisive, forward-thinking, productive, dependable, enthusiastic, dynamic, etc. Determine which are your key personal brand attributes.

Now, look at your key areas of expertise and skill sets. Maybe you've had significant impact improving productivity and processes; increasing profitability and revenue growth; leading, building, and mentoring teams; and/or budgeting and containing costs . . . whatever has been of value to the companies you worked for.

What you want to do is link your personal brand attributes with your value proposition, which represents the results of your actions and how they affected bottom line and benefitted your employers.

Then you can show them the money you've saved and/or made for companies in the past, indicating what you can be relied on to deliver for your next employer.

How to Turn Your C-A-R Stories into Resume and Other Job Search Content

As you're going through the C-A-R exercise, just write everything out step by step, and don't worry about how lengthy your answers are. After you detail the entire story, go back, consolidate, and whittle down the information to the essentials.

Include a few tightly-written, relevant success stories (2 to 3 lines) in your resume. Beyond your resume, your stories will have significant impact when also added to your online social networking profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

They can even become a stand-alone career marketing document showcasing top contributions. Link here to an example of a "Leadership Initiatives Summary" I created for an executive client outlining 2 of his standout contributions, Paul Goldfarb.

The Benefits of Developing C-A-R Stories

Investing effort into developing these stories will help remind you of the value you offer and help prepare you for your job interviews.

C-A-R stories will also help with your networking efforts. Prepare a few somewhat expanded versions of your stories to use in different situations.

Having these compelling examples of your value proposition in your back pocket will also help ease you through even those difficult sessions with inept interviewers who don't ask the best qualifying questions, or in uneasy networking situations.

The Bottom Line

Your C-A-R stories provide people assessing you (in person, on paper, or online) an indication of who you are and what you're like to work with. Your stories generate chemistry and help hiring decision makers determine whether you'll be a good fit for their company and culture.

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About the author...

Meg Guiseppi, Job-Hunt's Personal Branding Expert and 20+ year careers industry veteran, has earned 10 certifications, including Reach Certified Personal Branding Strategist, Reach Social Branding Analyst – LinkedIn Profile Strategist, and Certified Executive Resume Master. Meg is the author of "23 Ways You Sabotage Your Executive Job Search and How Your Brand Will Help You Land." Connect with Meg at ExecutiveCareerBrand.com for c-suite personal branding and executive job search help and on Twitter (@MegGuiseppi). And, you may also download Meg's free ebook - Job-Hunt Guide to Smart Personal Branding with LinkedIn.