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Your choice: be fascinating or forgotten!

Posted By Eric Shannon On June 15, 2012 @ 4:37 pm In Lessons | 27 Comments

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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 [4], 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 [5], 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 [6] 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 [7] with his job search.)

And, watch a job seeker who  made a rap video [8] 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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[4] value proposition letter: http://academy.justjobs.com/the-value-proposition-letter/

[5] Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061714704/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=justjocom-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0061714704

[6] relevant reference: http://academy.justjobs.com/the-complete-job-search-guide/#references

[7] did quite well: http://www.matthew-epstein.com/land-a-job-at-google-journey/

[8] job seeker who  made a rap video: http://www.distilled.net/blog/miscellaneous/5-things-a-homemade-rap-video-taught-me-about-outreach/

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