Man talking and gesturing

How to talk yourself into a job

Written by Kevin Makra
Posted on

An impressive resume is important, but it’s your voice that may land you the perfect job. Speak up and be heard! That’s the message from a new study from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. The study tested the theory that no matter how good your resume is, it’s your voice that may convince employers to hire you.

In the study, researchers asked a group of Chicago Booth MBA students to create a short pitch for the company for which they would most like to work. The pitches were written on paper and also videotaped. Hypothetical employers and recruiters then listened to and read all the pitches.

Researchers discovered that when employers and recruiters were presented with these pitches (which included the candidates’ qualifications), they rated the candidate as more competent, intelligent and thoughtful when they heard the pitch, as opposed to reading it – even when the exact same words were used. In fact, evaluators who heard the pitch reported liking the candidate more and being significantly more likely to hire that person.

University of Chicago business professor and one of the study’s authors, Nicholas Epley, said in a statement “In addition to communicating the contents of one’s mind, like specific thoughts and beliefs, a person’s speech conveys their fundamental capacity to think – the capacity for reasoning, thoughtfulness and intellect.”

In another experiment, some evaluators listened to job candidates’ written pitches that were read out loud by trained actors. They believed these candidates were more intelligent and wanted to hire them more than the evaluators who read the candidates’ own written pitches. One interesting note – the addition of video (seeing the candidate) did not influence the evaluators beyond hearing the candidates’ voice.

What can we learn from this study? In practical terms, it may not seem so easy. Many employers would prefer you communicate online, or by e-mail, rather than in person. So how can you make your voice heard? Whenever possible, try to connect with a person one-on-one. Visit them on their turf – join a trade association and attend a speaking seminar; go on LinkedIn and try to set up an informational interview with a contact; or use your network to create a face-to-face meeting with someone in the company you wish to work. Be confident and create a unique pitch for yourself!

Going the extra mile and trying to set up a meeting with someone in a firm can dramatically increase your chances of securing employment. Even if this person is not directly responsible for hiring, they may put in a good word for you. Don’t pass up a chance to meet with someone one on one.

If your speaking skills need improving, take the necessary steps now to address this concern. Consider an organization like Toastmasters. They have chapters all over the country and can help you become a better public speaker, increase your confidence, or just simply enhance your communication skills.
It’s all about connecting on a personal level and letting an employer know the skills you have to offer. According to Epley, “When conveying intelligence, it’s important for one’s voice to be heard – literally.”

The study titled “The Sound of Intellect: Speech Reveals a Thoughtful Mind, Increasing a Job Candidate’s Appeal,” will be published in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Psychological Science.

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