Imagine that you are the hiring manager at one of the most pursued companies in the world. In fact, your company is so sought after that it feels like there will never be a shortage of resumes and cover letters for you to review and pore over. But each one looks the same. These candidates have skills and great references, sure, but every cover letter you read is dry.
This is critically important, because you don't want just any new employee. You want someone to contribute to your business in incredible ways. You want a standout. You want a superstar.
And then, at long last--amidst the barrage of mediocre applications, you find The One. Granted, his or her qualifications appear equally as impressive as other candidates, but something about their cover letter really caught your eye.
If your goal is to become The One standout candidate in the hiring process, polish your resume and, most important, brush up on your storytelling skills.
According to researchers at Princeton University, storytelling allows the brains of the storyteller and listener--or reader--to synchronize. This brain activity enables the storyteller to persuade in a more effective manner, as a story is the, "only way to activate parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience." As a job applicant, you want your experiences, thoughts, and opinions to align with that of the hiring manager--naturally, it is best to be on the same page as a future employer.
Even further, storytelling has a great ability to aid in memory retention. As stories shape thinking, they also shape memories. If you want to have a hiring manager effortlessly remember your application, simply understand that it is a compelling narrative that captures its audience, not a bland cover letter.
As Todd Handy, a cognitive science professor at the University of British Columbia, says, the neuroscience behind storytelling indicates that our brains were essentially built to tell and learn from stories. "Storytelling taps into the same neural systems we use for recalling the past and imagining the future," he says. "That's probably why it's such an effective mnemonic for us."
Yes, it's true, telling stories is now an activity no longer reserved for just dinner parties or bedtime. Go ahead, see what happens when you inject a compelling narrative into your cover letter--and then afterwards, proceed to tell your new co-workers the story of how you got hired.