3 Ways Recruiters Can Win With Storytelling

Corey Burns Corey Burns, Recruiting

Being a great storyteller alone isn’t going to make you a great recruiter, but it’s definitely a differentiating factor between good and great. When looking at the parallels between high performing Recruiters and high performing Sales Professionals, the ability to successfully deliver a high-impact story is identical.

I’m aware that the debate between sales and recruiting is a bit touchy. Just Google “Sales and Recruiting” and you’ll see arguments from both sides; but I’m not here to debate.

I’m here to share a 3-step storytelling framework that will help you WIN in the talent game and ultimately win people over in other parts of your life outside of recruiting.

Early in my career, I went through sales training that completely changed how I communicated and went about winning others over (WOO). I was sitting awkwardly in front of a large group of colleagues and was forced to share a personal story about my life that had nothing to with the products or services the company offered. Instead, we focused on how to deliver information that would bring our audience’s imagination into a different world instead of the present moment. By strategically incorporating vivid details with the use of verbs, you can promote empathy, comprehension and ultimately higher engagement with whoever your audience is.

Fast-forward nine years and I’m still utilizing the power of storytelling when recruiting. It’s important to remember that candidates are busy and our goal is not to overload them with useless information, which is why a structured story is so important!

3 Steps for Structuring a High-Impact Story

  1. Where the organization came from: Bring them back in time.

Begin by painting a vivid picture of how the company started. While you begin to craft your story, focus on incorporating verbs to help set the scene and elicit empathy from the candidate. If at all possible, draw from the vision of the founders and/or the senior leaders who built the company. The first step is crucial in developing trust in the founder and the values the organization was built upon. If you truly believe in the founder or senior leadership, glorify their accomplishments!

  1. Roadmap the company’s journey to the present: Take them on the journey.

Now that you’ve painted a picture of the past, begin diving into what has made the company what it is today. While it’s in our nature to share only the good, be honest about a few road blocks the organization encountered and ultimately overcame. Being vulnerable builds credibility, because most candidates realize that a “Perfect Company” is like a Unicorn. Too often candidates are showered with all the good and then swiftly hit with the truth when they start. However, don’t dive too far into this vulnerable state, because this is when you focus on the milestones and accolades that set your organization apart from the pack.

  1. Where the organization is going (vision) and how they will be a part of that future: Have candidates buy into something greater than themselves.

Employees (in general) want to make a difference and feel that they are making an impact. Yes, pay and benefits are important, but it’s the impact and recognition on which so many employers fall short. By clearly laying out the company’s vision and how candidates will be a part of that progress, their minds shift from the past to a future in which they are active participants.


Like anything, this takes practice to become a normal part of your speech pattern when speaking to candidates. By using this process, it can help transform a sales pitch value proposition into a well-crafted story that drives results!

Like many others, Corey Burns fell into HR & Talent Acquisition by accident. He got his first taste of Recruiting at a Fortune 500 company, where he quickly found his niche. Fast forward, Corey is now the Director of Recruiting & Development at General RV Center, a parent company comprised of 3 organizations in the Recreational Vehicle industry, Corey has led talent initiatives that have contributed to more than 300% growth in both employee count and revenues.

He formed the company’s Recruiting & Development division in 2013, as the company entered a hyper-growth stage, and he now leads all recruiting, learning, and organizational development strategies. Corey’s approach begins with building trust-based relationships, which lead to talent solutions that support the four pillars of the company’s talent strategy: Attract, Develop, Retain, Grow.

While Corey focuses on strategic initiatives and managing his two teams (Recruiting and Learning & Development), he is a player-coach who thrives on facilitating training’s and picking up hard-to-fill reqs. You can talk to talk to Corey via email or LinkedIn