One of the facts about job search is very clear: employers hire people they are comfortable with. This is the reason why being referred always boosts your chances of getting the job. Someone who refers you to a hiring manager gives that manager a gift: they refer someone for whom the manager will have an immediate frame of reference, a context. This facilitates the conversation and since they know someone in common, the hiring manager will feel trust in the candidate and come to the conclusion that the person is competent to do the job.
Hiring managers are under a lot of stress when selecting candidates. They have a job to fill and there is pressure to make the right decision for the business. They want someone who is capable, but they need to work with the person every day which means there is a personality factor involved. If you are extremely competent but a hiring manager is not comfortable in your presence, chances are you won’t be selected.
This goes in complete opposition to the skills you are practicing in order to be selected. You are trying to put your best foot forward by expounding on your accomplishments, all the great things you’ve achieved. While these things may prove that point, they may not make you sound very likable, and sadly, you need to be liked in order to be selected.
So how do you demonstrate that you are likable? There are abundant articles and lists on this subject, but most of them start with the ability to listen to others. You need to be able to focus on the other person and hear what they are telling you without distraction in order to make that personal connection with them. Another top factor is the ability to put the spotlight on others, projecting appreciation for them or their talents. Charismatic leaders are good at pointing out what their teams did to get the project accomplished. These people have a knack of making others feel special and valued. Another trait is sincerity. We all know when someone is just feeding us things we’d like to hear, but authenticity is something we feel deeply from another person. That is something that cannot be made up; you have to genuinely relate to the individual.
A likable person is unassuming, even humble. They don’t act self-important or put on airs. By doing this they make you feel you are just as important as they are. This leveling effect goes a long way to endearing yourself to others. It carries through to speaking about others, they will always find something positive to say about a person, or refrain from saying anything at all. We’ve all heard that you should not talk negatively about a former employer during an interview, but this applies to all sorts of conversations.
Finally, while being genuine and self-editing negativity, likable people are not afraid to admit their own failings. This fosters that feeling of being in same boat. Who hasn’t felt that they were not up to the task in one situation or another? Being open to sharing allows the other person to be equally open and honest. The exchange leads to a sense of comradeship between two people. How can you not find a person likable with whom you share these experiences?