The #1 thing holding you back from getting your dream job

The #1 thing holding you back from getting your dream job

Written by Thanh Quach @thanhquach

February 14, 2022

(5 minutes read)

If you are struggling to get a job after graduation, you are probably scratching your head and wondering: “What’s wrong?”.

Maybe you miss some keywords on the resume? You just don’t know if you say the right thing during the interview? Or is that because you don’t have work experience? These are all “symptoms” on the surface, not the root cause.

After successfully helping 200+ fresh graduates get jobs, I can assure you that fixing these symptoms one by one here and there won’t be that helpful to get your dream job. We need to deal with the root cause which is the fundamental “thing” that will determine what you should put on your resume and what you should say during an interview. What is the root cause?

The root cause is: you don’t know how to tell a great story about the journey you have been through.

In this article, I will explain why not having a great story to present is the #1 thing holding you back from getting your dream job.

What is a story, why do we need story?

Storytelling is a way to present your profile (resume & interview) by showing your skills and value in a story-format to convince the employer that you are the best candidate for the job.

We need storytelling because that’s the most effective way to differentiate yourself from other candidates. The fact is we only have one position, but we have hundreds of candidates. Employers want to see the difference to choose one candidate over others

If you think about it, regardless of what you study, millions of students graduate every year from the same program such as: computer science, business, arts, engineering…etc. Even though you might graduate from different schools, but you likely study the same materials. While you are at school, you probably work part-time at Tim Hortons, McDonald’s, restaurants, or a local convenience store. Just like you, other candidates work there as well. In term of the context in education and work experience, there is not much difference. But your approach and your own experience when you go through these activities is unique.


Thus, the only difference sets yourself apart is your story about how you have gone through these things, what kind of struggle you overcame, what you learned and how you improved. Employers want to know how you think and what you do in those situations, because that will tell them a lot about your mindset, problem-solving skill as well as your growth potential.

What makes a great story?

Let’s say a pair of friends – Mike and Dave – both work at a coffee shop and they both have an interview for the financial analyst role. Obviously, the hiring manager wants to know what they do and how they work at the shop, she asks: “What do you do at the coffee shop?”

Mike answers:

“Oh, I take orders and I just make coffee, hand it to customers and I’ll answer any questions they have.”

To his best effort, he probably adds a few random tasks here and there at work. It is understandable why his answer is like this, because he thinks: “It’s just a simple job right? I mean what else can I say?”

This is not a story, because it’s a 10-second answer and it doesn’t tell the hiring manager much about his mindset and his skills. Thus, she doesn’t see any difference between him and the previous 2 candidates, who also work at other coffee shops, she just interviews with.

Dave, who does the same job as Mike, answers this way:

“At the coffee shop, my job as a barista is to make sure that customers are happy with our service. That’s why I pay very close attention to the detail to when I take their order and I will ask questions to clarify if I am not clear on something. I’ll ensure that I make the coffee exactly the way the customer wants. In addition, I will answer any questions they might have and sometimes I just have small conversations with them so that we can both get to know each other a bit better. I learned that small things like remembering their name is also a huge plus as they really appreciate this manner. To me, this job is not just a making-coffee job, it is a training for me to learn how to deliver excellent customer service and building relationship. It is because of this genuine relationship that will bring them back to our shop everyday.”

Now, this is a great story because it’s like 1-minute (vs. 10-second) answer with full of details to showcase Dave’s mindset and relevant skills. Dave successfully tells a great story about what he does for the customer and how the shop can benefit from his work, which will make the hiring manager feels more confident in hiring Dave as that’s what Dave will bring to the new workplace.

This is just a simple example of story-telling your part-time job. You can apply the same logic to write any stories that you have such as: projects, internships, part-time jobs, volunteering activities…etc.

So how can you write a great story like Dave?

Next Step

A great story is the key to get job offers because it helps you differentiate. It takes time and effort to open your mind and have a second look at your greatest assets: part-time jobs, school projects, volunteering experience in which you used to think “There is not much to talk about”.

In order to help you start writing your own stories, we have created a step-by-step guide below. You can download here:

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