Creating Chemistry with an Employer
By Marty Nemko
Imagine you’re looking for someone to marry. You meet someone with the right qualifications but there’s no chemistry. Unless you were hard up, you wouldn’t settle. Right?
Neither would most employers. Even if a candidate looks good on paper, most employers need to feel good about a candidate.
Here’s how to make that magic happen. These techniques also work in sales, with your current boss or coworker, a romantic partner, even your kids.
Appear interested but not desperate
Employers like to feel they’ve pulled off a coup, landing that tough-to-lure candidate. If you sound desperate, you eliminate the coup potential. Here’s an example of how to show interest without desperation:
Dear (Insert name of employer),
I am applying for your job #4365B, Senior Scientist II.
I like my current job but was browsing the want ads, more for curiosity than anything, where I came upon your listing.
It’s intriguing to me. I’ve been at my current job for three years and am wondering if it might be exciting to use my real-time PCR expertise in the contexts you describe in your ad.
As I think you’ll see from my resume, I meet all the job’s requirements so I’d welcome the opportunity to interview for the position.
In addition to showing interest without desperation, note how that letter was devoid of chemistry-killing jobseeker jargon such as “I’m a self-starter and team player committed to delighting the customer, seeking to contribute to a dynamic organization.”
Carry your interested but not desperate tone into the interview. For example, if the employer asks why you want the job, say something like, “At this point, I can’t say I want the job. You can only learn so much from a job ad. What else should I know about the position?” That transforms you from supplicant to shopper—a far more powerful position. That approach makes most employers feel they must convince you, which, in turn, makes them more likely to offer you the job.
Even when offered a job, don’t be too exuberant. Not only does that weaken your negotiating position, it can make the employer wonder if he made a mistake: “Someone that good wouldn’t be that ecstatic.” Excessive exuberance could make the employer watch your work more closely than he otherwise might have, or even withdraw the offer.
Find common ground
For example, with employers who seem more interested in their children than their job, talk about your family a bit. That will help convince that employer that it’s wiser to have you around than someone more work-focused. The latter could make that boss look bad in comparison.
Include a Personal Interests section in your resume. If, for example, you enjoy playing basketball and so does the boss, you have a leg up. And who knows, maybe there’s a company basketball team that could use a ringer like you.
Mirror the employer’s interaction style
Notice whether the employer speaks quickly or slowly, focuses on facts or feelings, in sound bites or long speeches, is all business or more playful. Mirror the employer. But all things being equal, speak briefly. Remember the traffic light rule: During the first 30 seconds of an utterance, your light is green: the person is listening and not eager for you to finish. In the next 30 seconds, your light is yellow: your risk is increasing. After 60 seconds, your light is red. Yes, there are rare times you want to run a red light, but usually you should stop: be silent or ask a question.
Play to the employer’s emotional hot button. Some bosses are emotionally needy, craving their employees’ praise and even adoration. Other bosses are ambitious, preferring employees who are eager to help them get promoted. Still other employers are driven by money, competition, or a political cause. Play to the employer’s hot button.
Really listen. Everyone thinks they’re a good listener but most people aren’t. Really listen to what the employer is saying. Also note changes in the intensity of the employer’s voice. That will help you figure out what to ask and say so you maximize chemistry between you.
Advice I’d Give My Child
Techniques for creating chemistry are all well
and good, but be sure your goal is an ethical one: for example, you
really are worthy of the job.
© Marty Nemko 2004-2013. Usage Rights