The importance of listening

First Published in Cynopsis Classified Advantage

One of the most important skills you should use in your job search is listening carefully, both literally and metaphorically. You have to listen to your friends when they tell you about opportunities. You have to listen to your bosses and clients to learn about your strengths and weaknesses. You have to listen to your heart to know what you really want to pursue.

You especially have to listen to the wording of the job ad. What does it actually say they are looking for? You have to listen closely to the recruiter and to your interviewer.

You will already have invested large chunks of time developing your own unique positioning to separate you from the pack. You have probably crafted yourself a script for your elevator meetings, a template for your cover letter, a set of anecdotes for your interview. And all this as it should be. If you have thought it all through and internalized it and what it means, it will do its magic for you. But if you are determined to stick to your script willy-nilly this investment might all be for nought.

Listen carefully to what is said and also between the lines to what is unsaid. And that means listening not only in the moment of the interview, but it means listening to the research you will have done in advance. Listen to what the company says on the website. Listen to the story the recruiter tells you about the job. Listen to the LinkedIn profile of your interviewer. Take it all in and frame your responses and approaches accordingly.

If you are safely in a job but aspire to a promotion or a new assignment, listen to your boss, to your co-workers, to the press so that you can create the opportunity and be there as the obvious person to fill it. This comes not just from wanting it  and telling your boss “I want the bigger title,” but from asking the right questions of the right people and listening to what is needed, so you can tell them you will provide just that.

People like to be listened to. They like to be heard. They do not like to be ignored. So tell them you heard them by responding directly and positively to something they said. Don’ t stick to a script  be ready to improvise. If they feel you have not listened to them, or worse yet responded with a ” No, ” they will shut down and they will not listen to you. Listening keeps you relevant and smart. Their awareness of your listening to them keeps them engaged with you. I can’ t stress this enough.