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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  • 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.

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

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