How One Job Seeker Upped His Storytelling Game to End a Year of Unemployment


Before he tried interview coaching, San Francisco software test engineer “Mark” had been unemployed for a year. After taking a few months off, he searched and interviewed for nine months. Despite excellent skills, dedication and years of experience, he received no offers.

“I felt like I was giving good answers, but somehow it wasn’t working. And there was no feedback loop to tell me how to do better.”

Then a friend of Mark’s, a former client of mine, referred Mark (not his real name) for interview coaching. “This feels like it could be solution,” he thought.

Storytelling was the key.

Like many job seekers, Mark found it challenging to answer interview questions concisely, especially the behavioral questions that require a story. In our sessions, he learned to focus his storytelling on “the parts of the story that mattered to the interviewer, rather than meandering through the whole story.”

Mark also learned how to more easily map his stories to the interviewer’s questions.

“I got my stories organized much better and was able to more quickly reference them. I could bucket each story as ‘difficult work situation’ or whatever. That enabled me to answer more quickly and confidently, rather than having to try and work backwards from what the interviewer was saying and figure out which story to tell.”

Mark’s next interview process was a big success. Three weeks after our first conversation, he had an offer!

Without interview coaching, San Francisco’s high rents might have driven Mark out of the City.

If his unemployment had continued, Mark would have had trouble paying the rent on his San Francisco apartment. Even with the new job, his finances would be tight, because the initial salary offer was too low.

Negotiating compensation—for the first time ever.

Mark needed to negotiate, but he’d never done so before. “I’d always come to the hiring process from not having a job, so I never thought I had any leverage. I never felt I was negotiating from a point of strength.”

“Basically, what I’d always done was negotiate against myself: I’d tell myself, ‘They probably know I don’t have other options at the moment, so why would they give me more?’ So I wouldn’t ask for more.”

We focused our next coaching sessions on how to negotiate salary, and Mark came to realize he did have leverage: He was the candidate the company had decided on. They wanted him to be excited about taking the job, and that’s why they’d be open to improving their offer.

“In hindsight, I should probably have asked for more every time I changed jobs. I had to break that threshold. I had to ask, and find out what would happen.”

What happened with the new job? After a couple of discussions and a few emails back and forth, the hiring committee increased the salary 12%.

A bright view going forward.

As of this writing, Mark is looking forward to starting his new job. His year of unemployment will soon be behind him.

So that’s how interview coaching helped this San Francisco, California professional to say goodbye to unemployment. And if Mark ever changes jobs again, we’re both confident that his new interview skills will once again help him get a great job sooner.



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