Category Archives: Likeability

Don’t “Sell” Yourself; Promote Your Expertise Instead with a High Likeability Factor

Getting hired is NEVER about YOU!

Getting hired is NEVER about YOU!

I constantly encounter professionals (newbies and folks with lots of experience) who express anxiety when it comes to job interviews and being able to present themselves in a most favorable light. Part of the problem seems to be one of misplaced focus: on themselves. Of the 5 qualities I’ve observed in successful technical and marketing hires over 30 years, the ability to assume an attitude of working for yourself (i.e., a consultant’s attitude) is an important one to help frame the potential employee-hiring manager interaction. No one gets a paycheck out of the goodness of someone else’s heart–it’s about being able to solve problems and do the necessary work the position demands.

An achievement-focused résumé helps set the stage for potential successful interaction with those conducting interviews. While “duties and responsibilities” have their appropriate degree of importance on résumés, hiring managers want to more about what you accomplished than what did you do. It also helps when candidates ask probing questions about hiring manager expectations, concerns, project needs, etc.–much like a consultant would do for a potential client.

One question that I suggest candidates consider is: “What is your most pressing issue or project that I would be working on and how specifically can I contribute?” That forward-leaning question shows the hiring manager that you are tuned in to his or her objectives, and that your confidence in being the candidate of choice is clearly evident. The job interview is not the place or time to be meek or timid, but to express your confidence in your expertise and ability to contribute to the organization’s mission/vision–and to do so balanced with a high likeability factor (i.e., without arrogance).

Speaking from the former hiring manager’s perspective, what “sells” me on a candidate is his or her record of accomplishment and achievement as expressed on a résumé. I’m a believer in cover letters, and I strongly advocate in my seminars and individual coaching that candidates always include the cover letter as another document that attests to their expertise. Hiring managers will be sold on a candidate who can communicate (clearly and articulately) the future benefits of his or her expertise rather than the past features of their experience. The thing that sells a candidate is the value proposition; it’s the question a hiring manager asks in the form of: “Does this candidate have the demonstrated expertise and accomplishments that show he or she can regularly contribute to the higher strategic objectives of the organization?”

Getting hired is never about the candidate or the quality of the candidate’s “salesmanship”; it’s always about the hiring manager’s needs and concerns for the team, department, project, or company.



Are You Ready to Take Objective Job Assessments? You’d Better Be…

testanxietyI hated taking tests in school…I much preferred the term-paper option, which I excelled at (for myself and others, for a small “consulting” fee). Fortunately, I’ve never had to take any kind of employment test because when I graduated from college and started my first professional job, I already had two years of experience in an oceanographic laboratory and in the field. I worked as a co-op student for NOAA and upon graduation, was hired immediately as a research geological oceanographer. From that point on, my skills, knowledge, experience, and accomplishments opened doors for me no matter where my career path took me.

More employers are incorporating objective assessments as part of the hiring process. In fact, 76% of organizations with more than 100 employees rely on aptitude and personality tests for external hiring, and is expected to jump to 88% over the next few years. According to an article in the July-August 2015 issue of the Harvard Business Review, worldwide estimates suggest that tests are used for 72% of middle management positions and as high as 80% of senior roles, compared to only 59% for entry-level positions. And these assessments are becoming increasingly difficult to game, making it easier to weed out candidates who may misrepresent themselves.

According to the HBR article, the tests employers use today focus on three major areas: Competence, Work Ethic, and Emotional Intelligence. Competency includes expertise, experience, and ability to be trained; Work Ethic addresses reliability, ambition, and integrity; Emotional Intelligence covers self-management, social skills, and political (organizational) skills.

Résumés, aptitude tests, situational interviews are tools employers use to evaluate competency. I think that accomplishments and achievements–especially if they can be quantified–speak loudly and go a long way to measure not only competency but the capability to contribute to the higher strategic objectives of the organization. Employers will use references, personality tests, and peer evaluations to assess a candidate’s work ethic. Different types of interviews (think-aloud protocols, situational interviews/values, simulations) and personality tests are common assessment tools.

Rest assured, your assessment scores are not the only criteria for evaluating whether you continue forward in the hiring process. They are used primarily to establish a baseline or threshold to determine the candidate short list. One of the most important factors is your likeability, and there aren’t any assessments for that. It’s how the hiring manager feels about how well you’d fit in with the existing team, department, or organization. And as I write in my new book, Strategic Career Engagement: The Definitive Guide for Getting Hired and Promoted, many times the hiring manager’s intuition, gut instinct, or determination of “personal chemistry” with a candidate may override any difference in assessment scores with other candidates.

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