context in your dragon slaying stories for ten resume mojo boosters story

Yes You DO Have Dragon-Slaying Stories! Here are 25 Prompts To Help You Remember Them

We teach people to write a Human-Voiced Resume that sounds like a person sounds when he or she is talking. One of the important parts of a Human-Voiced Resume is the Dragon-Slaying Story. In your Human-Voiced Resume, you’ll use three kinds of stories:

  1. The big story of your career, what we call your Career Arc, is one story.
  2. You’ll wrap up your career story and share it in your Human-Voiced Resume Summary, right under your contact info.
  3. Lastly, you’ll tell quick Dragon-Slaying Stories in the body of your resume, as you describe each job you’ve held.

A Dragon-Slaying Story is short and to the point. It’s bullet-length. A Dragon-Slaying Story has three parts. First, you explain the context so we understand as readers why something needed to be done. What was going on, or what was wrong? Second, you explain what you did – your solution. Thirdly, you tell us why that was a good move. In this story are sample Dragon-Slaying Stories. People say “I don’t have any stories!” but of course they do. We just haven’t trained our brains to think about our stories. Instead of stories, we think of our work longitudinally. That’s so boring! We say things like “I’ve worked with C++ for seven years.” Really, that’s the least relevant or interesting part of your C++ story. Who cares how long you wrote the code? Inquiring minds want to know what you wrote code for, and whether the code you wrote did what it was supposed to do! But we haven’t been taught to tell stories, so now we’re learning on the fly. In case you’re stuck for Dragon-Slaying Stories, here are 25 prompts that will get you thinking about some of the ultra-cool things you’ve done so far in your career.

  1. When did you change a process to make it work better?
  2. When did you train someone to do something he or she didn’t know before you trained them?
  3. When did you get people who weren’t working together to collaborate on something?
  4. When did you help a customer or outside salesperson and save the day?
  5. When did you write a newsletter, a report, a presentation or a marketing piece?
  6. When did you mentor someone who needed advice?
  7. When did you design a report that was smarter than the one it replaced, or filled a need that hadn’t been filled before?
  8. When did you solve a sticky process problem at work, sorting out something that was really complicated and goofed up?
  9. When did you suggest and keep pushing for a good idea that finally was put into place?
  10. When did you conduct a survey or gather opinions about the best way to proceed or to get to a goal?
  11. When did you sell or help sell something — a product or service, a new idea to the management team, or the concept of working for your  company to a friend?
  12. When did you fill a key role on a team that would have been in a bind without you?
  13. When did you jump into a bad situation and fix it?
  14. When did you go ahead without any direction, because there wasn’t any direction available, and figure out the right answer on your own?
  15. When did you represent your employer in a public setting — an association meeting, for instance, or a trade show – and help to burnish its reputation?
  16. When did you develop a piece of training or instructional information that helped people understand their work better?
  17. When did you save yourself or someone else time or expense by using your noggin?
  18. When did you find a bug or a problem that no one else had spotted, and get it fixed?
  19. When did you project-manage something, whether it was in your job description or not, so that the project got completed?
  20. When did you deal with an emergency or an unexpected situation in exactly the right way?
  21. When did you get somebody to talk about and allow for the resolution of a problem that had been hush-hush before?
  22. When did you serve as a conduit between people who should have been collaborating but weren’t?
  23. When did you come up with a better way to think about and/or evaluate something — a better frame, as we would say — and sell that perspective to the rest of your team?
  24. When did you advise your boss or somebody else’s boss?
  25. When did you feel like you were really alive and successful in your job? Every time you had that feeling, there’s at least one Dragon-Slaying Story hiding!

Write down your Dragon-Slaying Stories even if you aren’t job-hunting or working on your resume right now. You’ll want to remember them! Want to learn more about the Whole Person  Job Search approach we teach, Human-Voiced Resumes and Pain Letters or how to handle sticky career issues? New classes in our popular 12-week virtual coaching groups start this Saturday, July 26th! Here’s the scoop on that. Contact us here!     .

14 replies
  1. Nina
    Nina says:

    Thank you so much for posting this article. I love all of your articles, but this one could not have dropped into my inbox at a better moment. I was working on my homework from the “put a human voice in your resume” coaching course yesterday; in response to an exercise asking me to write down how I feel about writing a HVR I actually wrote down, “I am concerned that I don’t have any dragon slaying stories and that is going to stop me from writing a HVR”
    This article has really helped me with that. Thank you!
    Best wishes,

  2. Miranda Spencer
    Miranda Spencer says:

    Thanks so much for this! I was redoing my resume for the umpteenth time, trying to tailor it to a job ad, when I came to realize how dead it sounded. “What the heck,” I said to myself, “I’ll trying doing a human-voiced resume.” Wow, what a difference…my resume makes so much more sense, and you can “see and hear” the person behind it. What’s more, when I am thinking human-voiced, the dragon-slaying stories seem to come by themselves. In one case I said something like, “Produced a quality publication while working mostly with volunteers and on a shoestring budget.” In this way, I suggest the context (staff and budget limits), the challenge, and the fact that I achieved something. That’s not the best DSS in the world, but prior to that I didn’t have anything. Because I was thinking about my real world story, something concrete came to mind.

  3. Jim Long
    Jim Long says:

    Geez! I have a question!

    I measure my time serving my past employers in decades, not months, not projects. In a half-decade at one employer, I could write a book of these!

    How do I get all that onto a 2-page resume??

    If we’re supposed to keep our resumes down to a couple of pages, if we tell these “Dragon Slaying Stories” for every job, and our career is FULL of these stories over a few decades of successful Dragon Slaying… What, do we use 1/2-point text??

    Enquiring (and UNEMPLOYED) minds really want to know!

    I love your work, BTW, and have already begun adopting as many of your ideas as I can. There are pitifully few jobs where I live, and hordes of zombies pursuing them…

  4. G
    G says:

    “When did you feel like you were really alive and successful in your job?”

    What if this has never been the case? What do I write then?

  5. Doddie M. Halili
    Doddie M. Halili says:

    This is Awesome! I am already thinking of making this part of the TO-DO’s in developing people to become Leaders!

    Thanks Ms. Liz.

  6. Rick
    Rick says:

    This was eye-opening for me. Really, really eye-opening! Much of the things I’ve done has fallen off my resume because so many times I’ve heard from hiring managers “I just want bullets of quotas and sales numbers, and accounts.”. Being in sales, I thought that was all anyone cared to see. While that info is important, it reads so dry and dull. And it doesn’t speak to the leg work I’ve had to do in challenging situations to come away with a win. One thing I’ve struggled with describing in my resume is turning around or recovering lost or unhappy accounts. Quite a few times now, I have intentionally taken on responsibility to try to save an account relationship that was damaged before I came to a company. It’s actually become fun to me to do this! Most people seem to avoid so-called “bad accounts” but I like to find out why has this relationship turned bad and see if as a fresh face, I might be able to repair it. I’ve done very well at it over the years, and have turned accounts doing zero business into profitable, growing revenue accounts. I just don’t know how to put this into a single line or bullet point on my resume. Every way I’ve tried, the words just don’t read well or convey the message.

    Thanks for the prompting questions here Liz! Excellent information as always.

    • Bev
      Bev says:

      You have done a great job of describing your magic with these words: “have recovered lost or unhappy clients doing zero business and turned them into profitable, growing revenue accounts”.
      What business wouldn’t want you on their team?

  7. Irene Mullin
    Irene Mullin says:

    Thank you so much for this guidance! I was recently laid off after 12 years with one organization. So much has changed since I was a job hunter. Suffering from information overload, this is very practical and triggers ideas and reminds me that I have done some good stuff over the years!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] choose to do differently in my store doesn’t seem revolutionary to me. Thankfully, I found a post on Liz Ryan’s blog which listed 25 prompts to help people remember of the dragons they have […]

  2. […] A Dragon-Slaying Story is short and to the point. It’s bullet-length. A Dragon-Slaying Story has three parts. First, you explain the context so we understand as readers why something needed to be done. What was going on, or what was wrong? Second, you explain what you did – your solution. Thirdly, you tell us why that was a good move. […]

  3. […] reports you’ve created, sticky internal-customer situations you’ve resolved or other Dragon-Slaying Stories about times when you saved the […]

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