Your choice: be fascinating or forgotten!

When you apply for a posted job, assuming you’re qualified for it, one of the greatest obstacles you face is being forgotten. Here’s how to make yourself memorable, or better yet, fascinating.

Try to picture the overload affecting a recruiter handling three positions, receiving a dozen resumes every day for each with candidates in every stage of the recruiting process: screening, interviewing, reference checking, salary negotiation and on-boarding. Picture the recruiter with a family and kids, maybe with a divorce or health issue in the background (everyone’s got something).

Your recruiter could be touching 100 e-mails a day and doing 20 to 50 telephone calls. Can you see how it is that you have about 9 seconds to win a decision-maker’s attention? I talked about how to grab my attention in the first 9 seconds with a value proposition letter, now we’re going to talk about how to turn your initial win into a real connection and avoid being forgotten.

You do that with fascination. Because, as author Sally Hogshead notes, “In a competitive environment, the most fascinating option always wins.” You fascinate or you fade into the background noise. Below, I’ll share a number of ways to create connections that’ll make you memorable and keep your candidacy alive for the eventual win.

But first, watch Sally’s TedX presentation and consider reading her book Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation, which is a great read.

The book will help you understand what fascinates people and how your natural talents can play to human nature.  That will greatly benefit your career, but you’ll learn valuable life-skills too, so you can’t lose.

Just want to get started right now, you say? Here’s what you can do to make yourself memorable in your job search and how it relates to Sally’s seven fascination triggers:

Make a personal connection and mention it in follow-ups – look for something you have in common that might build rapport, someone you know in the company (check Facebook and LinkedIn), favorite sports teams, hobbies, etc. Research the interviewer online before an interview (whether in person or by telephone) and look around the office for clues when you arrive.

Building a personal connection relies on the trust trigger to comfort, relax and bind the recruiter to you. Your goal is to become familiar and maintain predictability and consistency while impressing the recruiter with your authenticity. Be careful not to overdo the personal connection because if you push it too hard you’ll lose your authenticity. Keep it casual.

Ask references to send notes on your behalf. A relevant reference who’s willing to invest time to make herself available to the recruiter is a big trust builder. Don’t underestimate the power of your references – it’s often easier for your old supervisor or executive to build rapport with a hiring manager than it is for you. Think about it this way – as a hiring manager and CEO, when I’m checking your references, I’m often talking to managers that I consider my peers, because they face many of the same management challenges I do. We connect because of that commonality.

Leave or send materials that document your talent. Bring something that highlights your talent or passion to the interview that you can leave with the recruiter. How could I forget you if you’ve left something on my desk that will periodically catch my eye? Or, send something after the interview.  I saw an online thank you note done with SlideRocket that knocked my socks off — and the applicant got the job.

This tactic plays on trust like the first two examples but also adds mystique, prestige and possibly power. We’re all intrigued by anyone with the boldness to exercise creativity and initiative because we know it’s risky. Recruiters and hiring managers are no different – we’re just as curious as the next guy, so use this to your advantage!

Here are two examples of visual resumes –  food for thought:

(Note: mustache man was not hired by Google but still did quite well with his job search.)

And, watch a job seeker who  made a rap video which landed her the interview and eventually the position.

Offer something of value with your thank you – make your thank you note unique by including something the recruiter might find valuable. This could be an article, newspaper clipping, book or some information about a competing business. It could also be a sample of your work that you do specifically for this occasion to show what you will actually do if hired.

When I was searching for a new position a few years back, I followed up all of my interviews with a handwritten thank you note and a package of LifeSavers candies. In my note I said “I’ve been considered a life saver for my bosses in the past, and I’d love to have the opportunity to share my skills with you.” A little cheesey, but it created a creative impression!

– Jill

This is a solid trust builder if you give something that is suitable and relevant, not just clever.

Keep in mind that when you set out to be fascinating and memorable, you will be criticized. Some will call you unprofessional and others will say you’re wasting your time. Just remember this – if you’re not generating a negative reaction from someone, you’re not fascinating anyone either. We pay attention to people who take risks.

Naturally, sometimes you gamble and lose. But, in today’s job market, the bigger risk is simply being forgotten. So take a chance and try something new and fascinating!

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  • Larry

    Being fascinating can be as simple as making your interviewer laugh. This lesson is becoming more and more important with our new generation. As an artist an art educator, there is so much talent and competition out there. Your skills is no longer enough to catch the attention of a gallery or school. You have to sell yourself on more than mere talent and skill.

    To give a personal example, I accidentally used this method when interviewing for an art teacher position at a liberal arts public charter school. It was quite intimidating, since the school was formal and required a high level of intellectual articulation from their faculty, including art teachers!

    So, I knew I needed to to something that was going to throw off my interviewer, and lighten the mood. But, I had no idea it would happen accidentally. During the interview, I was asked to name a few artist from the past that have been influential in my own work. Without realizing it, I began to name all the members from the Ninja Turtles. Keep in mind, this school is very much opposed to pop culture references in their curriculum and in their campus culture as well.

    I said, “Sure, I love the work of Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, and Donatello.” There was a silent pause in the room, and I realized what had happened. So, I smiled, and said, “I just named the Ninja Turtles, did’t I?” We both laughed. I then explained why I actually love the work of the high renaissance masters and got the job.

  • Emily Anne

    These tips are so valuable and have provided me with so many tools to use when following up with future employers. As someone who is currently applying for teaching assistant and graduate assistantships I love the tips about making personal connections and following up with possible employers throughout the process.

    Continuing to build rapport with those you work with and make connections is invaluable to moving ahead in your field and establishing relationships with employers that will make strong references. As a teacher, I love the piece about thanking people, a bit of thanks to someone who feels over-worked or undervalued helps them feel like they are making an impact and it strengthens their relationship with you.

  • Hermione Daguin

    I think the risk is the reason why most people would never even attempt to approach a potential employer like these people did in their resume videos. While they are fun to watch and memorable, they’re also extremely unconventional. It’s scary to make yourself stand out so much. I personally would not make a video resume but I think my name kind of make the stand-out job a little easier for me than most people. Having a name like Hermione has always been an excellent starting point for me. That’s how I make myself memorable. I make a Harry Potter reference and go on to talk about how alike I am to the movie Hermione.

  • Marco Guillen

    This resonates with me because I had to write personal statements for college applications in 2015. The prompt was so simple, yet so difficult to write about. In school, they don’t really teach you to do critical self-reflection. For the personal statement, I had to dig deep in my past and make sound appealing. I knew that I basically had the first two sentences at max to impress the person reading, so I had to make it good. Either I would be fascinating or forgotten. Turns out I was forgotten because the schools for which I wrote personal statements rejected. I tried to not get too sad about it because I had already gotten into other good schools, but it was devastating nonetheless. How to make yourself interesting? For me, specifically, it is an extremely difficult task that I still need to work on. This guide, while it didn’t exactly open up a path, it did give me a new direction.

  • Evie Fardelmann

    I had a friend that worked for a pharmaceuticals company, advertising their products to different medical practices, and she used to dress up in funny costumes and dance and sing to advertise to her clients. She received criticism as well, but she was their top saleswoman! I’ll have to keep this in mind for my internship applications that are coming up, and for my future career applications as well. With the number of other art students out their all vying for the same position I am, it’ll pay off to be as creative as I possibly can.

  • Aaron Leyva

    When it comes to an interview, it is best to come prepared.
    Know about the company and its initiatives, maybe research and some studying is need to be done.
    People always get intimidated and nervous before meeting a potential
    employer – it’s only natural. To me,
    that’s because the unknown is scary to people because they don’t know what’s coming next.
    Keeping an opened mind and staying true to yourself is the best course of action to take.
    Before an interview I always
    take a deep breath and tell myself “they’re just people too, and at one time,
    they were sitting in my very seat”. A
    huge risk, in my perspective, is talking to an interviewer like they’re someone
    I’m familiar with, and not simply telling them what they want to hear.
    Great strong personalities and straightforward people are what employer’s look for, they want people that are going to stay with the company for a long time.

  • Ana Daniela Soto

    I think one of the hardest things for me when getting a job is doing well at the interview. Even when I know that I’m qualified for the position and have experience,I really have to practice the interview part.

    My first job interview ever did not go well at all. I think that was because I was applying at a movie theater and I didn’t think they could really ask me hard questions. After all, it was only a position in concessions right? I was very wrong. The interview process was hard. They asked me a lot of questions that I had never even though about at all. There was a lot pausing and awkward answers in my interview. I definitely did not make myself memorable at all. They must have really been in need of employee because I did get the job.

    That experience really helped me prepare for the job I have now. I did all my homework and researched the company. I practiced interview questions and not only by myself but with my friend. I was very lucky that the person who was interviewing me spoke Spanish. I immediately made a connection with her and asked her a lot of different questions. I had a lot of volunteer experience working with school age children which helped me when applying at this job at an elementary school. The interview process this time was a breeze because I was really prepared and I was not feeling nervous at all.

  • Nicolas Barrionuevo

    “be fascinating or forgotten” is the motto I live by with my major. I’m currently an Computer Science major and work at the same time, if you don’t know about Computer Science, you got to know that it’s definitely a tough major that takes a lot of time to finish assignments and a lot of brain power to understand different languages and creating programs. But I love it! I love programming, it’s so fun, it’s amazing to see nothing at the beginning and keep coding until you got a whole working program with no errors. I gotta believe that I’m the best at the end of the day, and you need to show that to people in order for business to want someone creative! So you can either be fascinating or be “meh”

  • Ryan Johnson

    Convince yourself that you are great, if you don’t think it, other people won’t. You need to remember that your job interview is not strict business, you can talk about normal things as well. Just keep the focus on the interview though. Figure out what your unique thing is and kill it.

    I remember at my past job that I interviewed for I had all the same nervousness as you do for a job interview but I just had to convince myself that it’s just a job too. That if I don’t get it, that’s okay, figure out what I did wrong and get the next one. Going in the interviewing room it caught me off guard though because three people came in, this was the first time I’ve interviewed with more than one person in the room, I continued on with the interview and it actually went really well. I didn’t have any experience for what I was applying for but I seemed to convince my employers that I have a willingness to work, learn and be reliable. I think a big part of it was talking about my hobbies actually, it seems that they share a lot about you. So I got the job and all is well. Remember, you are all spectacular people!

  • Audrianna Judd

    Be different or get out. Anyone
    can follow the bare minimum requirements but that is not enough to get you noticed!
    STRIVE to be unique and give the interviewers something to remember.

    I have always had stage fright unless I was comfortable about what was being
    discussed. This is my future we are talking about! It is nothing to be afraid of.
    Of course it is not concrete, but I have a say over my own future. Like the first
    step off the platform when zip lining; it’s a big drop and you do not know a hundred
    percent that it will hold you up for all of the journey, but you cannot get to where
    you want to go without that leap of faith.

    Researching the position you are trying to get and, if possible, the interviewer
    can be the deciding factor in if you get the job or not. I remember when I went in
    for an interview for a research assistant position that tested on butterflies. Due to the
    fact that it was an insect lab, I decided to take a risk and to not wear shoes that
    covered the top of my foot. When I went in and the interviewer asked her
    questions, she saw my fairy tattoo that has very colorful butterfly-like wings.
    She said she thought it was so beautiful. Even though that was all that was
    said, she glanced at it several times as we finished the interview. I got the job.

    Even in the next interview I have, even if I am just remembered as the girl that worked
    with butterflies, it is better than not being remembered at all.

  • Travis Newman

    In order to be fascinating, you have to have some sort of story. Whether you’re writing a statement of purpose for graduate school admittance or applying for a job, you have to find a way to stand out one way or the other. My story is that I am an athlete. For the last four years, I have dedicated much of life to being a Division I student-athlete playing on the intercollegiate women’s basketball team. As a student-athlete, I know what is is like to work hard, manage my time, and meet everyday challengers. Playing on s sports team has taught me to effectively work with others to reach the intended goal; and I plan to apply this understanding in my future endeavors.

  • Megan Poniatowski

    Taking risks is one of the most vital components of achievement. When I reflect on all I have accomplished, none of it was without risk. I graduated top of my class, a Gold Award Girl Scout, a four-year varsity athlete, and president of my school’s SGA. I had to risk my pride for all four of these things. However, these risks also made me memorable. I had an extensive resume that allowed me to be accepted to every college I applied to because of how involved I was.

    This is something that employers will look for when I graduate from college. So, I am taking risks and trying to make myself memorable by being involved on campus. I am a member of the National Student Speech-Language and Hearing Association, the Honors College, Women’s Club Soccer, and, more recently, my school’s student newspaper. The latter of these was the largest risk I took. The newspaper has many applicants and I was nervous to apply, but I did so anyway. My risk paid off and I am currently writing for the sports column. I believe that taking risks is the best way to make yourself memorable. No one is going to remember the kid that did everything they were supposed to and blended in with the crowd. That is not what employers want. They want to hire someone who was not afraid to take risks; someone who wants to be memorable.

  • Tabitha L

    Grabbing the recruiters attention is the one piece of the puzzle that I have struggled with in trying to change jobs after fourteen years with the same company. I have so much experience with the current company I work for that I got lost in trying to sell myself for what I have done for them more than I did trying to sell myself for what I can do for this new company. I did not make myself memorable enough by selling myself to the recruiter and hiring manager telling them enough what I could do for their company. I have always been one of those people that struggles with bragging on their accomplishments and skills, so I have to push myself more to sell myself and be unforgettable or I will struggle with trying to grow in my professional life.

  • Brandi Randles

    I took Career development and Life planning in a couple of semesters ago and this is a good reminder of some of the things I learned in class. Making a statement of yourself is and can be positive in the prospected employers eyes.

  • Emely Rodriguez

    I am the type of person who lives to over achieve. Finding a balance between too much and too little is difficult at times. I befriend those who I believe can help me achieve in the world. Whether they are teachers, older classmates, or managers. In high schools my friends would always tease me because I would take a normal assignment and make it a personal mini project. Every teacher that I’ve had, however, remembers me! That is to say, “if you’re not generating a negative reaction from someone, you’re not fascinating anyone either.”

    Many people do the bare minimum to survive and pass on in life, but that life will only be a mediocre one at best. Do not waste people’s time with average work. Employers, teachers, deans, etc. all have personal lives and problems of their own. Seeing the same kind of people over and over again, probably does not interest them. Being noticed and put aside from the rest is an extraordinary feeling. Out of all applicant they chose you to get a scholarship, out of all of the applicants they chose you to be promoted, and out of all of the applicants they chose you to join your major’s program. These are things that are not just handed to people as they stroll on by. If you’ve got something to share with the world, then why hold back? People will hate or love you, either way they will know you!

    I am slowly finding a good balance between too much and too little. I fight for what I want and I make sure that every person I meet, remembers me! I have so much to offer for the world and it would be selfish for me to keep it to myself. Many people think that what they have to offer is the same as many other people, but if you deliver it even a little better, you will be standing out. Be creative, yourself, and charismatic. I also preach to my friends and family that the only thing between you and your goals, is yourself! That is precisely true. Find ways to stand out and surely something great will come from it with time and effort.

  • Sami Smith

    While reading this article and watching the videos, I was trying to think of aspects in my life where I had used these tactics in order to be fascinating. I realized that I not only use these types of “fascination factors,” but I also have obtained many different ones of my own. I do know that I am an extroverted personality type, and I am also extremely nurturing. With that being said, I feel that the two fascination triggers that I connect most with, would be passion and power. I am passionate and create a sense of warmth that entices people to know more about me. I always use my passionate personality in order to make my work better or innovative. I also have a powerful personality, in a sense that I get things done, and I demand respect and attention for all that I do.

    I know that I use these types of strategies, honestly unknowingly sometimes, because of the types of jobs that I have acquired through out the years. One of which comes to mind, is my current job at Bare Minerals. A couple weeks ago, both of my managers told me that when they had hired me, they had no idea what my age was, because they typically do not hire anyone under 20. They told me that they did not have to even look at that, because they had fallen in love with my passion and my drive for making women feel more confident about themselves. I realized that I did indeed fascinate them, and that is what ultimately led to them bringing me onto the team.

  • Yazmin Vasquez

    Searching for a job might be quiet difficult for some individuals, but once they have landed an interview they come to the realization that they are now in the running and might actually have a chance of being hired. When it comes down to the interview for the most part every candidate has similar responses for the interviewers questions, I believe when being interviewed you have to almost always think out side of the box and leave a memorable impression with the interviewers.
    When thinking outside of the box one needs to make certain that they don’t come across as careless and childish. Each response has to be unique in its own way but certainly realistic. By thinking outside of the box and having different responses than the other running candidates you are more than likely to get a follow-up call on your interview. Just make sure to always be yourself and let your true colors shine and have them offer you the job for who are and not someone you pretended to be for the day because that will only set you up for failure in the future. chosen for top 75 websites for your career

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About the author


In 1997, Eric Shannon launched the first job board for bilinguals who speak English/Spanish at Eric still serves as CEO of LatPro Inc., developer of He lives in Boulder, CO with his wife and two girls.