It can cost upwards of $100,000 to replace a skilled employee. The employer must write the job ad, place it in the appropriate publications, screen resumes, schedule and conduct interviews, and commission criminal background checks, credit checks, and physical exams. And after all that, the new employee is, on average, not profitable to the employer for the first six months. The employer is looking for someone who can do the job with minimal hassles. So do employers always hire the most intelligent applicant with the most impressive credentials? Not always; often they hire the person who has the necessary skills, and who, they believe, will be there for several years without causing the employer any problems. Replacing a skilled employee is costly.
It’s important that potential employers like you as a person and think you’re bright. Those reading your resume or cover letter, and those interviewing you, know that they will be spending time with you if you’re hired; so even if “likeable” isn’t an official criterion for evaluating job candidates, it plays a big role. Whenever we meet people, we begin to make judgments about them. Psychological research tells us that if our initial impression is positive, we tend to guess that everything about that person will be positive. For example, if we think a person is nice, we will guess that he or she is also honest. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true; if we think the person isn’t nice, we’ll guess that he or she is probably dishonest.
Your job is to convince the employer that you’re a good investment—that the position that he or she has open is a perfect fit for you (which means you’ll stay), and that he or she will look forward to seeing you every day at work. But remember that spending every moment obsessing about making a good impression won’t serve you well either. Make an effort to smile and be positive, but beyond that, relax and be yourself.
The best way to help the employer see you as a good fit is to speak the employer’s language—to describe yourself using some of the exact words and phrases that the potential employer used in the job ad and in the company literature. For example, if the employer lists, “experience running a punch press,” in the ad, type that exact phrase the Summary of Qualifications section of the resume; and mention it, word-for-word, in the cover letter (assuming you actually do have that experience).
This technique has an additional benefit. Some companies use software to sort resumes, which rejects resumes that don’t contain key words or phrases. By leaving out these key terms, you guarantee that your resume won’t be seen by human eyes at that company.