A Simple Formula for Likability – In Person and On Paper

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of hearing Tim Flood, Associate Professor of Management Communication at Kenan Flagler Business School speak at a conference on the topic of networking.  While he covered a lot of ground, one comment very early on in his presentation struck a chord with me – we all have self-doubt and worry about how we’ll come across when meeting new people, but the key to being likable is simple: be concise, be clear and be authentic.

The more I thought about it, the more it makes sense.  A simple but powerful formula for building your network.  If you respect people’s time in your outreach, your conversations and your follow up, you will build good will and more meaningful connections.  Be clear about your skills, what drives you and what you’re looking for.  Ask good questions, listen and connect your passions and drivers to theirs.

Taking things a step further, this formula can also be applied to resumes.  Respect the readers time by ensuring everything on the page is connected to the job you are applying to.  Don’t assume the reader has time to review everything you’ve ever done and then pull out what they find most relevant.  Most recruiters and hiring managers don’t.

Be clear about your relevant skills and experience, be concise in your wording and be authentic.  Start with a summary that clearly articulates your value and then back up your claims with strong bullets.  If a bullet is not articulating a relevant skill, pull it out.  If you have certifications that don’t apply to the job, remove them.  In doing so, you will be build good will with the reader and become likable on paper.


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