I recently posted a blog on job searching and self-promotion on a college website. In response, I received a bunch of emails from students who were out of work and having no luck finding a job. While there are literally hundreds of things that go into a successful job search, often times we (myself included) lose sight of what actually causes people to connect with us.
What Have You Done?
In our job search for example, it is easy to focus on the two classic lines of self-promotion – Education and Experience. Certainly, to get in the door you need to have something akin to what people are looking for in those areas, so I don’t mean to downplay them. However, when it comes to an interview, simply restating what is already on your resume is a waste of time. People don’t connect with facts, they connect with stories. If you want someone to identify with you, don’t tell them what you have done, tell them who you are.
In repeated studies on tipping at restaurants, results show that people (generally) do not tip more or less on the basis of performance. Instead, people tip more if the waitperson makes them feel good. Things like making physical contact with the diner, strong eye contact, knowing regulars by name, and any other hints that the waitperson likes the diner will earn them big tips. Restaurants know this and put it to good use.
Have you ever been to an Outback Steakhouse where the waitperson kneels down to your level to take your order? I’ve even had them sit at the table with us while we ordered, as if they had joined us for dinner. Those little gestures communicate so powerfully that I don’t mind waiting an extra 5 – 10 minutes for my food because they almost feel like friends now, not wait staff.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t recommend making physical contact with your future boss at your next interview. However, if you are able to use your story to connect with your future employer, they will forgive gaps in employment, lack of preferred work experience, and so forth. But, without a felt connection, your interview is dead in the water. People value and make decisions, not on facts, but on the way you make them feel.