Stop Being So “Professional”! | No BS Job Search Advice

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

A recent conversation with a consultant after a successful interview reminded me of a coaching session I did years ago with a young business school graduate who was having trouble getting hired for her first job.

The student had graduated #1 in her class from an elite business school and kept striking out on interviews. I sat with her for about ten or fifteen minutes and taught her a simple technique to counter what had plagued this consultant for so many years.

The consultant told me that for much of her early career she was told that she was so pretty that getting a job would be easy for her. It angered her so she set out to make sure that she was hired for her ability and not her looks.

And that leads to this lesson:

Stop being so professional!

As I have written many times, people have not been hired purely because of skills competency but because someone likes them. You create trust in their mind as someone who can solve their problem and they are willing to choose you.

The notion of being “professional” (I hope you detect oozing sarcasm) is artificial and eliminates any human qualities from an interview that would cause someone to like you and trust you. Given that skills competency is only one small measure of why someone is hired, eliminating the personal connection from your interview technique makes it much harder to be hired.

The B­school student went on to ten job offers and a successful career. The consultant talked to me after an interview where she spent three hours, met three people she truly liked and was accepted for a long­term assignment that could go on for years. “I have spent so much time fighting to be hired based upon what I knew and not based upon my looks, that here, I went in and was myself and was hired based upon what I knew,” she said.

That is a lesson for us all.


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Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff 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 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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