Getting a job is a lot like selling your house. You have to make a powerful first impression (curb appeal), you have to give off a fairly normal vibe (hide the weird stuff), and you have to make sure the employers knows there's something special about you (the "wow" factor). But in the end, it may just be gut instinct that matters most.
1) Curb Appeal
People will make a snap decision about you at first glance. Appealing? Or not? So, only beautiful people can get jobs, right? Wrong! Take a moment to picture your employed friends, family, and coworkers. Not a universally good-looking bunch, are they? Good curb appeal for a job candidate simply means arriving on time looking clean, well-dressed, and prepared.
2) Hide the Weird Stuff
For every potential house buyer who loves metallic '70s wallpaper or a room-sized collection of turtle figurines, 100 will be turned off by it. True, people should just overlook the weird-but-irrelevant stuff. But we don't live in pretty, pretty Perfectland. Hiring managers are more likely to fixate on the weird stuff and ignore your credentials. In both real estate and job hunting, you're trying to appeal to the greatest number of people to maximize your chances. If you want to get hired, neutralize the weird.
3) The "Wow" Factor
Figure out what is it about you that's truly unique and valuable to the employer, then make sure you get that message across. Maybe you're already a Windows 7 whiz and can help train the staff when they upgrade. Maybe you have a true knack for calming down irate customers, or you can spot typos from across the room. Try to find that factor that will make them go, "Wow!" and communicate it clearly in your resume, cover letter, and interview. Make it the icing on the cake.
In the end, hiring decisions, like house-buying decisions, usually come down to a gut feeling. With houses, we ask ourselves, "Can I see myself living here?" Likewise, hiring managers ask themselves, "Can I see myself (and my team) working with this person effectively?" They have to feel comfortable that you can do the job and mesh with the company's work culture. The way you "stage" yourself is a big part of how they answer that question.
What other house-hunting and job-hunting parallels can you think of? Leave a comment below.
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