7 ways to make yourself more likeable (& more hireable)

Being likeable is a big part of being employable. This doesn’t just apply to the application and interview process, but also to your day-to-day life. Because in your day to day life is where you meet people who can refer you to the awesome life-changing job you’re looking for.

People help people they like. But if you’re shy or socially awkward, being likeable can be a challenge. A lot of us are actually nice, interesting people. We’re just not good at social situations, and we’re so concerned about the impression we’re making that we totally mess it up by trying too hard.

Don’t worry. Here are seven super easy things you can do in social situations that will make you more likeable.

Smile. Research suggests that not only does smiling make you more likeable, it also helps people remember you. Don’t smile all the time…that will just freak everyone out. But smile when you first see people – it shows you’re happy to see them – and when you say goodbye. One study found that, in an actual job interview, smiling less in the middle of the interview and more at the start and at the end was correlated with increased hiring.

Be happy to see people and greet them by name. We have all experienced the pleasure of being greeted by name by someone we’ve only met once before. And the joy of seeing someone light up when they see us. There’s this one woman I work with who always happily says my name when I arrive, and I just think she’s the bee’s knees. Don’t those people make you feel great? Be one of those people. Everyone likes to feel like we’re valued and important. We also like feeling that we’re memorable – and we like the people who make us feel that way.

Ask questions. Ask people about themselves, ask their opinions, and ask for advice. People love it when you ask them for advice. It makes them think you’re smart because you value their opinions. Seriously. Science says so. Be careful though. I ask a LOT of questions, and then follow up questions, and then I sometimes find I’m pretty much interrogating some poor victim – this is because I’m naturally interested in what they have to say, but I’m sure it gets annoying. Show interest. Don’t interrogate. And remember to listen to the answers. (Or, do as I say, not as I do.)

Listen. The other day, in the middle of a conversation, someone I had just met said to me, “I like how I can tell you’re listening to what I’m saying by the questions you’re asking.” (So, I’m not always bad.) I took this as a huge compliment since listening is a skill I’ve been working hard to master.

Listening doesn’t just mean waiting your turn to talk, making listening faces, looking for something to argue with, or trying to figure out how what the other person is saying pertains to you. It means hearing what they’re saying, figuring out what they’re trying to communicate through what they’re saying, and why.

When you can respond to someone demonstrating that you’ve done that, people will appreciate it.

Be interested. Be interested in life and the world. Go out and do things. Learn, read, wonder, see movies, go to parties and events. Turn off Netflix and go out and do things. It’s OK to watch a little Netflix. It’s not OK if binge-watching is all you do. People will think you’re boring. Not only will taking an interest in the world enrich your own life, it will make you more interesting to others. And as a result, more employable, of course.

Be helpful. If you can help someone, do. If someone asks you for advice, to borrow something, or for help you can provide, give it to them. Too busy? No, you’re not. There’s a Preston Sturges quote that goes, “If you ever want anything done, always ask the busy man. The others never have time.” Being helpful makes you likeable. It also inspires others to help you when you need it, like with looking for a job.

Quit hating on stuff. A lot of people think it’s cool to hate on stuff that other people enjoy – types of music and movies, celebrities, sports events … I’ve noticed this more with my own generation, Gen X, than with the younger generation of millennials who tend to be more earnest and less self consciously ironic (in my experience). But nobody should be doing this. Hating on stuff is boring, and insulting to people who enjoy those things. Plus, those people will think you have bad taste. If you start making fun of something I like (often not knowing that it’s something that I like), it doesn’t endear you to me, it makes me think you have bad taste and maybe aren’t smart enough to appreciate that thing. I won’t say this to you. But I’m not going to be impressed.

I am going to be impressed if you smile at me, remember my name, and are interested and interesting. All of these things are pretty easy to be. You just have to start.

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