Humanize your job search to drive real results

By Debra Wheatman


Is your cover letter addressed “To Whom It May Concern”? Does your LinkedIn profile read like a list of skills rather than a description of you? When you meet with potential hiring managers, are you stiff, formal, and “just the facts”? If you said yes to any of these, you are doing it wrong. I know this is what you have been taught, but it is not the way to influence a decision. You see, when you are a job seeker, you are promoting yourself and there is a human being at the other end of your message. People do not always respond to facts. Facts and data do not always convince people. If they did, swaths of people would not believe that the earth is flat! People are emotional creatures; oftentimes, they make decisions based on feelings rather than empirical evidence. Sometimes they make decisions in conjunction with evidence, but a “gut reaction” almost always wins. 

If you want to create a winning networking and/or job searching strategy, you need a little of the human touch. You must up your game and stand out from the masses: 

Tell your story. So many people I have coached have an abject fear of appearing vulnerable. If this is you, you need to get over it. Showing vulnerability demonstrates your humanity. Whether in your LinkedIn profile or in an interview, tell your audience what drives you and what got you to where you are. I am not talking about your career progression. That is your employment history. I mean, bring out what the catalyzing moments in your life were and how they shaped you. For example, I worked with a client who, as a child, would take apart her dolls’ clothes and fashion them into unique designs. We talked about this in her LinkedIn profile and connected it to her career in luxury apparel. It made for an interesting, differentiated story to tell. If you have an early, transformative experience, share it. It will set you apart from the others. 

Do things differently. You are a unique person, not a robot. One thing I counsel people on is the importance of writing thank-you letters. Note that I said “letters,” not emails. Anyone can send an email. Sending a personal, handwritten thank you note will make you stand out among the competition. And it is so easy to do. Think of potential employers as grandparents. They LOVE to receive a nice card with a personal note from you. 

Connect with potential coworkers. You can talk all you want about building relationships, but if you’re not walking the talk, you’re not maximizing the value of those relationships. When you’re targeting companies, look for people who work at those companies and people who hold similar roles at similar companies. Connect with them and build relationships. All business—b2b, b2c, b2g—is a relationship business.


Hiring managers are human; people want to work with people with whom they feel a connection. Being stilted and overly formal is not the best way to sell yourself. Tell your unique story of who you are, what shapes your worldview, and the reasons they should hire you will quickly become apparent. 

This article was named a Top Job Search Blog Post for 2020 by The original article can be found here.



Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1700 episodes and “The No BS Coaching Advice Podcast” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was named a Top 10 podcast for job search. is also a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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