How to be unforgettable
When looking for work, it’s important that people don’t forget who you are.
Honestly, the odds are already against you. You send out resumes that get lost in piles of hundreds of other resumes. You meet people at networking events who lose you five minutes later in a sea of other faces.
But, if you can get the right people to remember you – whether they meet you socially or professionally – you will have made a massive leap towards securing the position you seek.
After interviewing ten candidates, you know who the hiring manager is going to call back? The person they remember – in a good way, obviously. They’re not going to forget the candidate who takes off all their shoes and puts their feet up but they’re not going to hire them either.
Here are some ways to make yourself unforgettable while on the hunt.
Do something creative with your application: We often come across examples of people who used their imagination to come up with a unique application package. There’s this woman, who created a LEGO figurine of herself, and this guy, who made himself into an action figure. Then there’s the guy who wrapped his resume around a chocolate bar, and the guy who created a resume flowchart.
I’ve been told these tactics can backfire, but, really, anyone who doesn’t appreciate the sort of motivation and creativity these resumes showcase doesn’t deserve the people who created them.
That being said, not everyone can pull something like this off. If you’re not the sort to come up with ideas like this or your industry isn’t the sort in which it would work, you can still make an indelible impression.
Have a distinctive look: My memorability is built in to my physical appearance. My hair is grey and almost reaches down to my waist. People don’t forget meeting me for this reason alone. But, for good measure, I’m also usually sporting brightly painted fingernail art.
Having a unique style will help make an indelible impression.
If you don’t have an unusual hair colour, and aren’t a fashion daredevil, it can be as simple as big earrings, a cool scarf or ring, or something in a bright colour. Not the whole outfit, though, and never wear orange to an interview. Don’t go overboard in an interview situation. Be unique, but be professional.
Make the other person feel good about themselves: Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And she was pretty well liked.
In a social setting, be generous with the compliments. In an interview situation, offer one if you can do so without seeming phony or sycophantic. Ask people about themselves and, above all, listen when they talk. Yes, it’s OK to show an interest in the interviewer. Smile. Be nice.
Give something tangible to remember you by: In a job interview, bring a paper copy of your resume and, where applicable, a portfolio or samples of your work. Have business cards printed up with your name, what you do – the headline of your resume or LinkedIn summary, for example – and your contact information, and hand one over. This is likely to get lost after a networking event, but not guaranteed to. Less likely if you make it stand out.
Or you could do something particular for the company. A former Workopolis PR rep gave the interviewer a six-pack of beer labelled with the company name and his own name. He didn’t land that position but the interviewer never forgot him and hired him later for another position. This is similar to “do something great” but on a more personal scale.
Again, that level of creativity might not work for all industries.
Tell a great story: Have an anecdote ready that is short, fascinating, and colourful. In a social setting, this can be anything, in an interview setting it should be one that is related to the position you want. Talk about dealing with an interesting problem, meeting someone who fascinates you, or an accomplishment. You must have tales of your accomplishments at the ready for an interview anyway. Make them count. I like to tell about the time an editor randomly decided she absolutely had to have an interview quote from Yoko Ono right then, so I tracked Ono down and got one for her that same day.
Get quickly from beginning to end. Don’t waste time or you risk losing your audience.
Follow up: After meeting someone socially, connect with them on social media. Linkedin is most appropriate but I often reach out to people on Facebook as well.
After an interview. Use the opportunity to say thank you and to reiterate your interest in the position. It’s also another opportunity to make an impression. If you have a Gmail account and a Google+ account with a picture of yourself, an email will remind the person of your face. If you don’t have these things. Get them.
Again, if you’re comfortable, you can go a step further. Once, I interviewed with the president of a TV station, who I knew to be a great Beatles fan. Afterwards, I took a picture I had of myself with my arms around some friends, cut the friends out (it was before the days of Photoshop so I used scissors and glue!), replaced them with the Beatles, wrote a thank you note on this and sent it to him. I got the job.
There’s no doubt you’re worth remembering. It’s up to you to figure out how to make that lasting impression.