Selling Yourself Requires Plot and Narrative

Tom Durkin at his final ceremony after calling his last horse race. Tom Durkin at his final ceremony after calling his last horse race.

Selling yourself requires both:

  • Strong Plot, and
  • Interesting Narrative.

Living in Saratoga Springs, NY, and going to the oldest racecourse in the United States, I became a fan of announcer Tom Durkin, who communicates information and increases excitement during every race.

Tom, recognized as the #1 racetrack “caller,” is retiring at the top of his career. He is doing a mini farewell tour of interviews, sometimes discussing the importance of plot and narrative to each race call.

The importance of plot and narrative also applies anytime you are selling yourself, whether for business development, career advancement or job search.

Plot: Facts, Figures, Titles, Dates, Duties, and Results

Plot is the obligatory substance of the presentation. It is the critical events of a “creative work,” presented by the writer as a symbiotic sequence.

Plot is the foundation of your résumé/LinkedIn profile and provides the information used in the first screen to decide whether you appear to be qualified and appropriate for your potential client, next job or new job.

This information at the base of selling yourself is factual and can be supported. It must be communicated clearly and supported completely. Don’t hide or embellish these key facts.

Job seekers: Never use a functional résumé, which automatically communicates problems and hides the good as well as the ugly facts.

Durkin said on CBS Evening News that “Some plots are bigger, some are more dramatic. But there’s something there for every race.”

Chip Reid continued: “In fact, Durkin’s at his best when making ordinary races unforgettable.” Careers are similar.

To quote the great American hero Popeye from his 1933 short: “I yam what I yam.” Communicating who you are is critical to reaching the next step of selling yourself: narrative.

Narrative: The Story Connecting Yourself with What You Want to Do

Narrative is told in a way that allows potential hiring managers to envision you in your desired future.

The Schenectady Gazette described Durkin as saying “narrative is what separates a great caller from a proficient one. A great narrative also lifts a capable candidate for a contract, better job or new job to the desired individual for a company to pursue.

The article continued to describe narrative as: “… detail, description, context, color.”

Think about your story. Are you presenting yourself with:

  • Sufficient, relative and impressive detail, including accomplishments?
  • Desirable description of both your career and yourself?
  • Relatable context showing how you will fit into the company’s culture?
  • Interesting color to differentiate yourself and make you memorable?

Narrative is what connects with your audience and makes them interested in you.

Listen to one of Durkin’s greatest calls, which I was lucky enough to hear in person, to experience the excitement when plot and narrative are both delivered. Note that this takes just a little over 2 minutes, which also is about the time you have to make your own sale when you’re selling yourself during an interview.

About Richard Sellers

Richard is Chairman Emeritus of the Marketing Executives Networking Group, founder of Demand Marketing consulting firm, and former Sr. VP of Marketing for three multi-billion dollar companies: CEC, WLP, and Service Merchandise. His early career was at GE, P&G, Playtex, and Marketing Corporation of America. He’s also a volunteer counselor for SCORE assisting small businesses in upstate New York. You can follow his communications about marketing, job search and careers here and at mengonlineENTREPRENEURS QUESTIONS, and on Twitter at @Sellers_Richard.


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