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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  • Christopher L.

    I completely agree. Things like gumption and moxie are the stuff of successful people! I competed just recently for a job as an English tutor; I think I employed (no pun intended) much of the advice you provide. Thank you.

  • Kaitlin Maxwell

    Whenever you are looking for a job, you have no other choice than to be fascinating and make your presence known! It is important to make sure you stick out or you’ll be forgotten! Make them remember you!

  • Grace Chung

    I was only trying to leave a comment for the JustJobs Scholarship…… without knowing…

    that these posts would be actually so fun to read and helpful. I have visited many websites for job search and such, but this is by far the most engaging – “fascinating” as this post is about.
    I end up reading many other links on the page including “Your value proposition letter” and some other recommended links. This particular post has really encouraged me to let out my creativity and take the risk!

    Thank you Eric for the time you possibly spent putting all these sources (the videos and links) together. They were excellent examples! If only I could upload a video, I’d have rapped my “thanks!” for ya.

  • Kayla Ochoa

    I actually used the tip about making a personal connection when I was interviewed for my very first job. During the interview, my manager asked if I played any sports and I mentioned baseball and dance. It turned out that his daughter plays softball so we spent a good majority of the interview talking about his daughter and softball. I ended up getting that job, I’m sure it wasn’t just because I played baseball, but I know that definitely helped him remember who I was so that I wouldn’t be overlooked later on.

  • This article really opened my eyes to the competitive nature of the job market. It is true. Be fascinating or forgotten. Today, many people have similar resumes and look similar on paper. You must go the extra mile if you want the job and ulitmately if you want to keep the job.

  • Marek Zarnow

    Great! I’ve often given similar advice to friends over the years who were hunting for jobs. Demonstrating passion, getting personal, and being confident are game changers in the search for employment.

  • Amanda Alderete

    Thank you for all the informative, persuasive and tactical ideas in creating a digital resume. Most jobs are requiring online applications. Therefore, knowing techniques for creating a digital resume is brilliant. Even though there may be criticism, there is still a lasting impression you will leave. I had an epiphany with the portion describing a recruiter’s process with applications. You never know what someone is going through.
    I worked with sales and have been presenting for several years. In presentation training the most important was the “Hook’em”. The hook was your starter that built common ground and caught the audience’s attention. This information reminded me of presentation training. It is all about learning how to sell yourself. Thanks for the ideas in making myself unforgettable.

  • Brandon Barooah

    I feel that this article is extremely helpful for particularly college students. Most college students, such as myself, have little to no real life office work experience. For this reason, most of us don’t know what to expect when that first interview comes around. It’s nerve wrecking and makes pretty much anyone anxious, however, this article not only helps one to be prepared, it also gives insight on how to stand out from the other applicants.

    When I applied for my internship this summer, I went to the interview extremely nervous, but prepared. I had done my research on the company and since I was applying for a developer’s position, I had reviewed all possible questions in the computer science field, so no matter what the questions were going to be, I was ready to answer them.

    During the interview and after all the technical questions were asked, the interviewer and I slowly developed a connection. I tried to see what I could talk about that relates us both, and it really helped to find out that he was from the same university I was attending. This alleviated the interview and it turned more into a back and forth conversation rather than feel like a question and answer type of interview. I feel that this might have made me stand out more than the other applicants, because I was more on a personal level than most likely the others.

  • Shane Mulligan

    Very insightful. Using these techniques can only be helpful in the fast-paced occupational world we live in today.

    With so many competitors, it’s difficult to make a lasting impression and land the job you desire. I can see how applying the idea of being “fascinating”, or simply interesting enough to hold a recruiter’s attention can really help in furthering your chances of acquiring a career.

    It’s lessons and articles like this that put readers ahead in the race for the best jobs. Greatly appreciated!

  • Angela F

    This information was very useful and I think you do need to research your employer before going to the interview. You should know your best assets and make them shine. I always look around the office for a way to connect with my future employer and I come with questions to ask them about their business and my future job. This presentation was wonderful and I would recommend it. I really like the idea of sending a thank you note with a pack of lifesavers or something else special – great ideas!

  • It is important when we are facing an interview to be able to click with that person in front of you.I remembered one of the interview I had 3 years ago that I had a folder where I was taking my resume saying on top, “Thank you very much for this opportunity”. That impressed my interviewer so much that I was hired the same day. Another thing that worked for me was that I requested my previous employer to send little cards saying how good I was at work and how lucky they will be having me at work. Definitely there is much we can do to make our interview memorable and unique from others.

    We should keep our open for new things and use our imagination!!!

  • diegonavez

    This article definitely helps any college student think and plan about how they will land a job. College students are often so busy with classes that we forget to worry about everything else in the world. This causes us to forget about money until it becomes a real issue a job can add a lot of stress to an already busy lifestyle but this article helps guide anyone looking for a job a good road map instructing them on what they need to do.

  • Ryan Barry

    People who are tryng to leave a good impression or anything of sort, are remember easily and are liked, This is why advertisements and what not have a little jingle in them because it triggers something in the brain that makes you specifically remember that thing. So if someone is memorable they will come up on the mind first and will most likely be first chosen. People who don’t try aren’t received well and in turn are quickly forgotten don’t be one of those men. I always try and make things interesting in what I do. The fact that I make things interesting and am remembered has been proved when people think of me before others be it in games or in the fact that I can help them. Showing a way how you are unique can also be shown through sheer helpfulness and showing you are there makes you that person that can accomplish things and get stuff done.

  • AmandaWebster

    Being remembered is something I have always struggled with. I seem to constantly end up in the back ground. Having a common looking face and a common name have not helped me either. I have had to make a point of making myself stand out in many situations.

    I have frequently used the “make a connection” and “leave something valuable” approaches to being remembered. Since my freshman year of college I have made a point of giving my professors a thank you note with a small gift at the end of each semester. This tactic worked with most professors quickly, although it still took one professor three semesters to make the connection between my name and face. I also take time to talk to my professors and ask them about their lives, families, and their experience in college. These conversations can also lead to gaining advice and tips from them.
    These tactics have also proven effective with bosses. I now have no trouble with my professors or bosses remembering me and they are all also more than willing to be a reference for me.

  • I always, always, always try to make a personal connection. I have also left a digital copy of my portfolio with a couple companies whenever I tried to start my intership.

  • kzieser

    I could not agree more with this! Well said, “be fascinating or be forgotten!” Interviewers talk with and see so many people in a matter of a couple days, if you don’t do/say something to make yourself memorable, you are going to be just another name on paper when they review the applications.

    I always do my best in every interview to make a point of commenting on something that relates me to the specific job/interviewer in particular. I then try to remind them of that point throughout the interview, so that when I leave there and they see my name later, they make the connection with me and that main point that I made. I have found this to be very effective. I have even had employers tell me that they hired me because of something in particular that I said during my interview that made me stand out from everyone else.

  • There has been many instances in my life that I can remember wanting to be fascinating and memorible. Most recently, I moved to Columbus Ohio and decided to persue me beauty business. Building a business has its own tidbits however build a client for that business is an entire different ball game. Advertisement is the first aspect of marketing in which I used. At first, I didn’t know how I would advertise or where. I begin to observe my surroundings. I found a photographer and started capturing my work on film. Within a matter of weeks I had dozens of pictures to use on flyers, magazines and business cards. I didn’t stop there however. The last thing I did was allowed myself to become a walking billboard. I would dress up, do my hair, apply artificial lashes, and apply my most attractive face (makeup). Before I knew it poeple would be walking up to me asking questions about their beauty needs. I would politely hand them a business card. They were fascinated by looks and then my personality. Now I have a pretty good client.

  • lyutuc

    I have been a student for as long as I remember, and it seems as thought I will always be one.
    Most of my classmates in high school decided that they would go to a large, state university. I thought that four years at a large post-secondary institution was not for me and knew that my passion for communication and creativity were vital components of my future career. Instead, I applied to a two-year accelerated program at a nearby Polytechnic University that was supposed to prepare me for a job in public relations. This program was a limited access program that only admitted 22 students each semester.
    During my two years at there, I maintained a 3.6 overall GPA, receiving a 4.0 in my last two semesters. I was consistently among the top five students in my class based on academic performance and received awards of merit for each year. Upon graduation with my associate’s degree, I was among the few to graduate “with distinction” and that is reflected on my degree.
    I attempted to gain as much experience working in the field as I could through additional volunteering and internships throughout the program. From stints with a preschool for children with language-based learning difficulties and the SPCA, I have learned that one of my greatest strengths as an individual is my ability to interact with the people around me. Being able to communicate my ideas effectively as well as understanding clearly what they are trying to say has been very beneficial in my life up to this point.
    Two years at that Polytechnic University passed by fairly quickly and I found myself unemployed. My above average grades, real-world experience, and knowledge in the field were not giving me a sufficient advantage as I was competing with former members of senior management for entry-level positions in public relations. After months on the job-hunt, I realized that it was time to explore more options. I decided that completing my bachelor’s degree would give me a competitive advantage in the job market.
    After reading this lesson, I’ve realized that I need to find a better way to stand out amongst the crowd.

  • Luis Rub

    in mind that when you set out to be fascinating and memorable, you will be
    criticized.” This simple yet eloquent quotation illustrates my high school
    expierence. Throughout those four years I strived my best to become “memorable
    and fascinating.” And through such endevours, I was criticized as a “teacher’s
    pet” , “Nerd” , “no-life” and the such, but it’s through what I accomplish that
    I regret nothing.

    While some said that, “I was
    wasting my time.” The risks provided an open door to my future. Those
    late-sleepless-nights and early starts to the day furthered my education and
    allowed me to present a speech to the graduating class of 2012. So I spoke and received
    my five minutes of fame in possibly the most memorable night of my life. Yes, I
    might not have been the outsppoken “normal” teenage boy, but I took the risks
    that were needed and tried new things to achieve what I wanted.

  • RebeccaPesce

    I believe even the smallest risk is taking a huge leap of
    faith when it comes to an interview.
    People always get intimidated and nervous before meeting a potential
    employer – it’s only natural. To me,
    employers are like dogs, they can sense fear.
    When they sense fear, they could forget you as soon as you walk out that
    door because you acted just like everyone else who was nervous and intimidated
    by their status, answering questions like you’re reading a script so you don’t
    mess it up. 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.

    I was interviewing with a doctor’s office when the office
    manager took me into the break room to ask the basic pre-screen questions. I took a glance around and saw the coffee
    machine with a bag of store brand coffee next to it. This may not be relevant to anyone else, but
    being the avid coffee drinker that I am, I took this opportunity to make the
    environment a little less nerve racking.
    When the question “how do you feel you’d be an asset to this company?”
    came up I took my leap of faith and responded with: “first by bringing in some
    of the infamous Dunkin’ Donuts coffee for everyone.” The woman literally looked down at her cup of
    mediocre coffee and laughed out loud.
    Such a relief, but I knew I was taking a risk there. Needless to say, I got the job and brought in
    the freshly ground bag off coffee on my first day.

  • amorency

    It’s important to take a risk. It’s important to stand out from your competitors – especially in today’s job market.

    I remember I had a phone interview with an advertising agency once, and they asked me, “What is your favorite ad campaign and why?” Of course, I had already done extensive research on the company and I knew exactly who their clients were and what ads they have done. WIthout even thinking, I spat back an answer involving one of the commercials they did for the Superbowl. Looking back on the experience though, I shouldn’t have responded with what I thought they wanted to hear. I think they were genuinely curious about my favorite commercials. Why? Because ALL applicants can research and learn who this company represents – they wanted to learn about the way you think. They wanted to understand from MY perspective what makes a campaign successful. And if I can give them concrete and original reasons on why something works or doesn’t work, then why wouldn’t they want to hire me? I would be ADDING something to their company.

    It pays off to take a risk and stand out from your competitors. Who wants to be the same when you can be different?

    • I think you hit the nail on the head about their motivation for asking you…

  • ruth

    It is important that when applying for a new position, that we find a tactic that is going to make us stand out from other individuals that are applying for the same position. Leaving a memorable along with a good impression on employers will allow for individuals to possibly be considered when applying for a new job position.

  • Erica Johnson

    I enjoyed Kristen’s slide! I would have never thought to do something like that.

    Being fascinating and unforgettable is not just a trait that you need to win a job but also to keep your job. I work in business development. To keep my job statues I must produce. The turn over rate in my department is like nothing I have ever experienced before. Ten people get hired one day and two weeks later those ten are gone and more are coming on board. I have successfully kept my position for a year and a half. I know it is not because of producing amazing numbers each month. The last 3 months I have struggled to set leads. I feel that I have not been fired because of my work ethic. My boss likes me because I am on the phone at the start of my shift and stay on the phone throughout my shift. Most of the people on my team like to chat and become distracted multiple times during the work day. I am unforgettable in the eyes of my boss because I have focus and perseverance.

  • This great advise on how to make yourself more impressionable than the rest.

  • Eric, you’re doing an awesome job here. I will be contacting you very soon to discuss a possible some possible synergies with what I’m involved in now. Best, Ken 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.