stand out

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 résumés 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!

And, watch a job seeker who  made a rap video that 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!

For comprehensive advice on the entire job search process, read our complete guide to landing a job at a great company or visit our career advice hub.



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  • What an on-spot, perfectly-timed post for me to stumble upon!
    Completely relevant, in respect to my most recent (yesterday; 4:30 PM EST) last-round interview with a company of significant size and reputation in our US of A.

    My final question for the interview panel of FOUR was:
    “How do you observe your [Instructional Design] team, regarding how they approach the process of embracing/engaging professionally with a newly-hired, ‘just-in-time,’ contractual worker who is an openly ‘quirky’ individual?” I followed up by assuring all that I indeed assign the adjective “quirky” to my personal self-assessment checks. THE RESULT: An ever so small slight pause. Then… laughter. Audible and visual delight (Webex meeting). The HM then admitted that she considers herself to lean heavily on the “Quirk” side of the “Quirkiness Scale”. And to clarify, my definition of “Quirkiness” falls within–yet not exclusively–the realms of shared vocal observations of blatant irony, much “Self-Talking” (not so relevant now, considering that we are forging ahead in this fresh, new remote/virtual working world), mismatched clothing choices, etc.).

    The HM then extended an affirmation that the nucleus of her team’s presence exemplifies all qualities of transparency and inclusiveness. While this may sound like a well-scripted “FAKE” scenario, it did indeed occur … to me … today. And, I believe that I just may have landed my “Forever Job”. (Fingers crossed; it is now 4:44 AM EST… not something entirely unusual for a PWN (Person With Narcolepsy).)
    Awesome web presence, BTW!!!

  • Being fascinating can be as simple as making your interviewer laugh. This lesson is becoming more and more important with our new generation. As an artist an art educator, there is so much talent and competition out there. Your skills is no longer enough to catch the attention of a gallery or school. You have to sell yourself on more than mere talent and skill.

    To give a personal example, I accidentally used this method when interviewing for an art teacher position at a liberal arts public charter school. It was quite intimidating, since the school was formal and required a high level of intellectual articulation from their faculty, including art teachers!

    So, I knew I needed to to something that was going to throw off my interviewer, and lighten the mood. But, I had no idea it would happen accidentally. During the interview, I was asked to name a few artist from the past that have been influential in my own work. Without realizing it, I began to name all the members from the Ninja Turtles. Keep in mind, this school is very much opposed to pop culture references in their curriculum and in their campus culture as well.

    I said, “Sure, I love the work of Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, and Donatello.” There was a silent pause in the room, and I realized what had happened. So, I smiled, and said, “I just named the Ninja Turtles, did’t I?” We both laughed. I then explained why I actually love the work of the high renaissance masters and got the job.

  • These tips are so valuable and have provided me with so many tools to use when following up with future employers. As someone who is currently applying for teaching assistant and graduate assistantships I love the tips about making personal connections and following up with possible employers throughout the process.

    Continuing to build rapport with those you work with and make connections is invaluable to moving ahead in your field and establishing relationships with employers that will make strong references. As a teacher, I love the piece about thanking people, a bit of thanks to someone who feels over-worked or undervalued helps them feel like they are making an impact and it strengthens their relationship with you.

  • I think the risk is the reason why most people would never even attempt to approach a potential employer like these people did in their resume videos. While they are fun to watch and memorable, they’re also extremely unconventional. It’s scary to make yourself stand out so much. I personally would not make a video resume but I think my name kind of make the stand-out job a little easier for me than most people. Having a name like Hermione has always been an excellent starting point for me. That’s how I make myself memorable. I make a Harry Potter reference and go on to talk about how alike I am to the movie Hermione.

  • This resonates with me because I had to write personal statements for college applications in 2015. The prompt was so simple, yet so difficult to write about. In school, they don’t really teach you to do critical self-reflection. For the personal statement, I had to dig deep in my past and make sound appealing. I knew that I basically had the first two sentences at max to impress the person reading, so I had to make it good. Either I would be fascinating or forgotten. Turns out I was forgotten because the schools for which I wrote personal statements rejected. I tried to not get too sad about it because I had already gotten into other good schools, but it was devastating nonetheless. How to make yourself interesting? For me, specifically, it is an extremely difficult task that I still need to work on. This guide, while it didn’t exactly open up a path, it did give me a new direction.

  • I had a friend that worked for a pharmaceuticals company, advertising their products to different medical practices, and she used to dress up in funny costumes and dance and sing to advertise to her clients. She received criticism as well, but she was their top saleswoman! I’ll have to keep this in mind for my internship applications that are coming up, and for my future career applications as well. With the number of other art students out their all vying for the same position I am, it’ll pay off to be as creative as I possibly can.

  • When it comes to an interview, it is best to come prepared.
    Know about the company and its initiatives, maybe research and some studying is need to be done.
    People always get intimidated and nervous before meeting a potential
    employer – it’s only natural. To me,
    that’s because the unknown is scary to people because they don’t know what’s coming next.
    Keeping an opened mind and staying true to yourself is the best course of action to take.
    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.
    Great strong personalities and straightforward people are what employer’s look for, they want people that are going to stay with the company for a long time.

  • I think one of the hardest things for me when getting a job is doing well at the interview. Even when I know that I’m qualified for the position and have experience,I really have to practice the interview part.

    My first job interview ever did not go well at all. I think that was because I was applying at a movie theater and I didn’t think they could really ask me hard questions. After all, it was only a position in concessions right? I was very wrong. The interview process was hard. They asked me a lot of questions that I had never even though about at all. There was a lot pausing and awkward answers in my interview. I definitely did not make myself memorable at all. They must have really been in need of employee because I did get the job.

    That experience really helped me prepare for the job I have now. I did all my homework and researched the company. I practiced interview questions and not only by myself but with my friend. I was very lucky that the person who was interviewing me spoke Spanish. I immediately made a connection with her and asked her a lot of different questions. I had a lot of volunteer experience working with school age children which helped me when applying at this job at an elementary school. The interview process this time was a breeze because I was really prepared and I was not feeling nervous at all.

  • “be fascinating or forgotten” is the motto I live by with my major. I’m currently an Computer Science major and work at the same time, if you don’t know about Computer Science, you got to know that it’s definitely a tough major that takes a lot of time to finish assignments and a lot of brain power to understand different languages and creating programs. But I love it! I love programming, it’s so fun, it’s amazing to see nothing at the beginning and keep coding until you got a whole working program with no errors. I gotta believe that I’m the best at the end of the day, and you need to show that to people in order for business to want someone creative! So you can either be fascinating or be “meh”

  • Convince yourself that you are great, if you don’t think it, other people won’t. You need to remember that your job interview is not strict business, you can talk about normal things as well. Just keep the focus on the interview though. Figure out what your unique thing is and kill it.

    I remember at my past job that I interviewed for I had all the same nervousness as you do for a job interview but I just had to convince myself that it’s just a job too. That if I don’t get it, that’s okay, figure out what I did wrong and get the next one. Going in the interviewing room it caught me off guard though because three people came in, this was the first time I’ve interviewed with more than one person in the room, I continued on with the interview and it actually went really well. I didn’t have any experience for what I was applying for but I seemed to convince my employers that I have a willingness to work, learn and be reliable. I think a big part of it was talking about my hobbies actually, it seems that they share a lot about you. So I got the job and all is well. Remember, you are all spectacular people!

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