Being charming in business – should I swipe left, or right?

Being charming in business – should I swipe left, or right?
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Welcome, do please take a seat and use your charm. I’m still getting to grips with recruitment in the private sector, but friends and former colleagues of mine who work in talent management, have told me many an interesting tale. These range from the usual scenario of no shows, to candidates over selling themselves and then not performing as expected. But in some instances, they have also found that an online resume that they were really excited about, does not at all match up with the person who is sitting across from them at the interviewers table.

So how did these people get there? Having been a sifter in a previous life, I’d like to say I’ve never been duped, but that simply isn’t true and I imagine that many others can say the same. As human beings, we are drawn to charm, be it in our friends, our partners, our idols and given the ever-increasing time spent at work, in our colleagues.

The digital platforms that have developed over the last decade, have given more and more business leaders the opportunity to demonstrate their ‘star power’. Not only do they appear in an article in the business segment of a national newspaper, they are now appearing on broadcasted news shows, they are all over social media, giving speeches at events and chances that they may well end up opening your new supermarket before too long. So why wouldn’t we all want a piece of the action?

Let’s face it, charm goes a long way and we have been constantly duped by politicians who perhaps utilise this better than any others, to win people’s confidence and push their own agenda. You only need look at the two most recent UK referendums for an example. Countless times I saw broadcasts where the more ‘charismatic’ politicians spoke about the benefits of the various leave campaigns, delivering impassioned speeches that won the hearts and minds of the public, potentially, swaying their votes. Whilst the often more straight-laced remain campaigners didn’t put over a particularly convincing (and certainly not charming) argument; often sitting there, exhausted, and simply asking the question ‘Really? But, why would you?’

I’m hoping that you see my point here; if you’re charming and charismatic in what you do, then you quite often will do rather well in your field. So how does that apply in the business world?

Look at me, look at me!

Let’s start at the beginning and go back to the recruitment angle; how do you go about getting noticed? Blogging? Spamming your CV to every CEO’s address you can find? Appearing at every networking event you can get to? Or perhaps your natural charm simply comes across in your CV or your LinkedIn profile. Some people ooze confidence, others don’t and are quite content with that. Yet there are also those that crave to come across as more confident, ‘bigging up’ their achievements to give themselves an edge.

What then happens to those who may be a little less bold? Those who are the hard workers that you really need and are quite often absolutely perfect for your role? Well, more than often than not, their confidence is battered simply because they cannot get a foot in the door to secure an interview and no-one will take any notice of them.

It’s a slightly dated example, but think back to the university graduates that stood in streets throughout the country with billboards attached to themselves, simply begging to be hired. An extreme reaction to an economy in its downturn? Or was simply a precursor to the frustration so many feel at getting lost time and time again in the digital job market? Hopefully, at least on the economy front, things are getting better.

My LinkedIn feed is full now of super handy online tools and tips for recruiting your workforce. As we look to automate, innovate and drive efficiencies through digital tools, this is clearly the future of business. But is it just me, or does this just feel a lot like a bad version of Tinder?

I’ve been fortunate enough (in my view anyway) to have never used the tool, so I cannot really comment on its effectiveness. But for years we have considered the idea of people ‘catfishing’ others by pretending to be someone that they are not, to be quite a heinous act; often crushing people’s hearts and stealing their life savings along the way. But doesn’t a digital resume built on false pretences end up doing precisely the same thing? After all, there is no such thing as a victimless crime.

Imagine the situation if you will:

‘Please scan my resume for a second or two on your app. Then swipe left if you aren’t interested, or swipe right if you are and we’ll strike up an awkward introduction.’

Reportedly, it can take some people less than 100 milliseconds to decide if someone is attractive, and just imagine if we did the same when looking at someone’s CV?

Your LinkedIn profile contains all kinds of information, detailing your background, your skills, qualifications and a few carefully chosen ‘influencers’ to make you seem more cultured. This presents recruiters with all the information that they could ever need to decide (hopefully in more than 100 milliseconds) whether to offer you a chance at your dream job. But based on this, and the most professional looking headshot you have to hand, by inviting you to meet, are they running the risk of having the blind date from hell?

My Interests Include

Avatars that promote your dream appearance, or online personal descriptions that falsely suggest that someone is tall and has an ‘athletic’ build are not a new phenomenon. Nor are those people that falsely state that they spend their spare time doing charity work and who wouldn’t normally say boo to a goose, yet have become an online ‘troll’. Like it or not, we are now all part of the same digital talent pool that employers are dipping into to take their business forward. This gives us all, much more of a challenge to be noticed and stand out from the rest.

I might seem to be rather pessimistic, but realism and experience also plays a massive part here. Some of the most amazing people I know, lack confidence when talking about themselves, especially in a professional sense, and I imagine we all know, or may well actually be, one of those people.

So, what’s your point I hear you say? Well I’m not sure. We all must play the game and make ourselves a more attractive proposition in many situations in life, and going for a job is no different. I’m no social scientist, but it does seem that being able to charm your way either in person, or via your online persona, may well be the key to opening doors for you.

I’d like to think of myself as being rather charming. I’ve come this far after all, but I must stress that it is not my only quality. I’ve spent a lot of time managing accounts and maintaining essential stakeholder relationships to achieve the end goals of all parties, and I’d like to say that I speak fairly well publicly and can bring other people with me. Being charming, approachable, amenable, and most importantly, reliable, are just some of the critical traits that are required to be successful.

Use your Charm and become a Smooth Operator

So as an employer, what should you do? Imagine a situation where you are presented with two candidates who are both great on paper, one who is a meek more reserved individual, and then someone who oozes that charm. You may well begin to lean towards this person, simply because of their demeanour and the ‘vibe’ that they give off as they could potentially do great things for your business. There’s an obvious caveat around the type of role that you are trying to fill, but honestly,  who would you choose?

No matter your choice, you never really know what you are getting and because you care about your business, there will perhaps always be that nagging doubt in the back of your mind:

‘What if this person is not actually as good as they portray themselves to be?’

Well it is up to the candidate to demonstrate their capability, and I’m far from saying anyone with charm is incapable of doing their job well. With digital being the norm these days, it can be very easy to paint yourself in a very different light without and secure opportunities that you may not have otherwise been presented with.

What I’m getting at here is that in a digital age, we often simply do not know who it is that we are going to meet, be it on a date, or on the first day of work. Thankfully, more and more recruiters are working to a model of arranging meetings with their candidates to ascertain the nature of a person, determining their ‘fit’ before they send them off to their customer; after all, it’s their reputation that is on the line.

Human Interaction

But with more and more businesses now operating in a digital, and sometimes faceless manner there are an increasing number of roles that do not require all that much human interaction. Now this obviously suits some people more than others, but does this suit your business and are the right candidates really getting through? And what about that oh so critical human element that we still look for when working collaboratively? When we are seeking partnerships? Or as a consumer when you are buying a product and need some guidance?

There have been recent shifts of people leaving behind the world and yearning for a simpler, less connected, life. In previous posts, we have highlighted both the pros and the pitfalls of digital tools, but let’s be real here, the opportunities that innovation creates are quite simply incredible and I am far from dismissing them. But is a skype interview the same as meeting someone face to face where you can gauge their credentials, their manner, and their personality? Is a webchat with a customer (though helpful in many ways) the same as actually talking to them over the phone, or in person and really helping them?

Much has been said about the false sense of society driven by social media, but where in the current state of business did we manage to lose that critical element of human interaction? When did more and more businesses become a faceless corporate conglomerate, regardless of their size? How did we get to position where we no longer really focus on our people, both those that work with us now, and those that really want to be a part of our business in the future?

At Marjolo we truly believe in ethical business and corporate humanity. We want to innovate using technology to support your company and improve your processes, but what we really care about is the relationship with your people. At our core, is a desire to place people and customer obsessed ways of working at the heart of both our own, and our client’s business models to the benefit of all.

Giving people the interaction that they need should not feel like a chore, or be ‘extra’. Your people need to feel like they are readily involved, valued and that you are as excited as they are at the prospect of them working for you.

Working together in way that your people have opportunities and feel empowered is the best way for them to really add value and achieve better results. Our aim is to support you with lead and determine the focus of your business, and understand who it is that you need around you to achieve success. With this in place, hopefully you can avoid the pitfalls of blind date recruitment and will not have to resort to saying:

‘Cilla, I’m going to go with contestant number 3’.

If I’ve been suitably charming in my words to encourage you to find out more, you can comment via LinkedIn or enjoy the rest of our stories and experiences.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, and would greatly welcome the chance to strike up a conversation.

Matt Wilding


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