What do job seekers and the 2011 Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actress, Melissa Leo, have in common? The answer is a skill that some say is one of the essentials in getting your foot in the door.
Consider Leo's case: She was a nominee for her performance in 'The Fighter,' and had already won all the major awards leading up to the Big One. So what did she do? She took out advertisements in Hollywood trade magazines promoting herself. Her ads basically gave her name and the word, "Consider."
Now, what's wrong with that? Well, Oscar etiquette is that only studios take out ads -- not the actors themselves.
This self-promotion was considered tacky by some in Hollywood who called it "a brazen act of neediness," and "a cliche of ego run amok," and referred to Leo as, "the attention-starved actress." The pundits speculated that she would create a backlash, thereby hurting her chances of winning.
So, how did she do? Well, she won. Yep, her brazen act of self-hype worked.
And that is just one of the lessons job seekers need to learn to give themselves the upper hand. Here are six essentials you might not have thought of:
Marketing yourself is one of the best ways to secure first the job interview, then the job. "You may know you're good, but no one else will unless you know how to present yourself," advises human resources specialist Kelly Kline. To do that, as in Leo's case, you might have to think "outside the box."
While the term "sales" is sometimes used interchangeably with marketing, sales is actually the end result of successful marketing. Once you get that face-to-face meeting (interview), then you have to "sell" yourself. Think of the door-to-door salesman who has to quickly grab his customers' attention before the door is slammed in his face. Rehearse your spiel, and back it up with facts so it will be persuasive.
Persuasion does not mean you have to, or should, be pushy. It means making all the essential points that show how valuable you are, without being "in your face." It's not bragging, either. "If an interviewer says, why should I hire you, you shouldn't say, 'Because I'm the best,' which, trust me, people have done," says Kline.
This is where basic knowledge of human psychology can be helpful. If you nodded off during Psych 101, now is the time to bone up on how you can "read" your interviewer, and most importantly, what subliminal messages he/she is sending. It's something that will also come in handy on the job. Learning what makes your boss tick can give you the edge you need to be successful on the job.
5. Body language
If your tendency is to shake your leg when you're nervous, slouch in a chair, or twirl your hair constantly ... stop. All of these movements send the wrong message to your interviewer. Similarly, if your interviewer rocks back and forth, plays with the paraphernalia on their desks or just seems distant, that is a signal for you to "step up your game." You'll need to reach inside and pull out Skills 3 and 4 -- your powers of persuasion and understanding of psychology -- to get their attention back.
Here's another lesson from Hollywood: What makes a star a star? Of course talent and good looks help, but what really makes the difference is charisma. You could be the best-looking, well-spoken, talented person out there, but if you can't exude charm and personality, you will be eclipsed by someone who does. So, practice in the mirror, just as actors do, and work on your spiel. The more you work on your charisma, the greater the chances that you'll end up charming your interviewer.
These are just some of the many components to getting a job interview and keeping your interviewer interested. If you are not having much luck, practice the above and take a lesson from Melissa Leo.
As Leo puts it, "I took matters into my own hands."
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