There's a secret to have your resume rise to the top of a job pile. It's the same technique that makes a comedy club audience laugh, or that gets everyone at your next meeting to stop texting and start listening to you. You get people's attention by making your cover letter, your first joke, or your opening remarks about THEM.
I posted a job on Craigslist and LinkedIn recently -- and I was immediately swamped with over 100 applicants.
I deleted some of the applications as soon as I read them. Why? Because they all had two things in common: they were all boilerplate, and the writers focused on themselves - instead of what they could do for my company. Almost every sentence started "I."
But -- about 10% of the people did something different. They took the time to look at my websites, and crafted emails that were about the problems I was dealing with - and how they could help me solve those problems.
Jackpot! These were the people who I called in for interviews.
The "I understand your problems -- and I am your solution" approach is the backbone of connecting to other people. Those that understood this made themselves aware of the challenges I'm facing, made me feel important, and made themselves look smart.
It might seem interesting to your friends that you "like working with creative types" or that you are "excited to take on new experiences." But - these types of vague declarations of personal likes and dislikes don't tell an employer you are focused on their needs.
I apply for a lot of speaking gigs, and what makes the difference in getting hired for many of them is that I customize each EPK (Electronic Press Kit) so it's specific to the needs of the client. For example, if I'm applying for a gig in Kansas -- where most companies do NOT want the racy humor that a New York or LA audience might enjoy -- I'll pull a quote from another client in middle America thanking me for doing clean comedy.
You’ll almost always hit a home run we you communicate an understanding of other people’s needs – instead of your own. But -- it’s a skill that you have to practice and develop.
Here's an exercise to help you practice connecting with all the audiences of your life:
When you meet someone new in the course of your daily life, find something to say to them that shows that you understand a detail of what their life is like. For instance, today as I paid my parking in an underground parking lot, I said to the attendant, “It must be hard for you to get a tan!”
I got a laugh -- and the attendant felt “seen” – as opposed to being treated as almost invisible.
I said to the counter person working at Baskin Robbins, “Is your right hand more muscular than the left because that's the one you scoop with?”
She smiles -- and we make a connection.
To my dentist, I say, “It must be hard having a job where you cause so much pain...” And we connect.
Make an effort to understand – and care about – the problems of the audiences of your life -- and then be prepared for amazing results.