I talk to plenty of candidates who think they should get the job because they are the most qualified.
They are frequently disappointed. They are missing the personal factor, the cultural fit.
I have long believed that most hiring managers want to hire someone they like, someone they can bond with. The person they hire is not always the best qualified or the most skilled.
This is important news for job seekers. You can make this perception work to your advantage.
- Be open and friendly when you meet people at an interview, especially the receptionist and people you meet in the halls. These could be your future colleagues. You want to make a good first impression as a person they would like to work with. Many times after an interview I would check in with the receptionist to get her impression. If she did not like the candidate, he or she was out of consideration.
- Try to make a personal connection by finding something you have in common with the person you are talking to. Notice the pictures and decorations? Golf memorabilia? Ask about golf. I had pictures of my scuba diving vacations on my office wall. Only a few people ever commented. I really liked those folks!
- Comment on personal interests in LinkedIn. I once scored coffee with an HR exec who never took networking meetings because I commented on her interesting in scuba diving.
- Don’t be afraid to put a few personal interests in your LinkedIn profile if they are a little unusual. Now don’t go crazy here. Leave off the religious and political interests; these can only limit your contacts. If all you do is read and ride your bike, probably best to leave it off. But if you are a triathlete, ran the Chicago marathon, or just completed a circumnavigation of the eastern United States, consider adding those interests. Unusual hobbies can spark interest from viewers and help build a personal connection.
- Read some of the books and articles noted in LinkedIn and make comments either on your main profile or in one of your groups. Getting into a discussion with someone makes you more “real” and 3 dimensional than just a profile or a resume.
You can be the most qualified candidate but it doesn’t mean anything unless you demonstrate that you can fit in by making a personal connection with the hiring manager.
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