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Posted on Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 6:19 a.m.

In job hunting, likeability is more important than skills

By Nick Synko

When I first met him, my friend Rich was an outstanding sales trainer for a Fortune 100 company. I found out later he that he held this position because he had previously been the most successful salesperson in the company’s history.

One day after I observed Rich teaching a class, I hung around to chat. I asked, “Rich, how do you do it? How do you outsell everyone else by such a wide margin? You are smart, a nice guy, but so are a lot of other salespeople. You have great sales skills, yet so do others. Rich, what do you do to achieve such success?”

Rich did not miss a beat; he understood the intent of my question. “Everyone else tells, sells and pushes product. I make friends.” He continued, “The Golden Rule of sales success is that people buy from people they know and like.”

He went on to explain how he listens, facilitates and looks for mutual interests with his customers. Nothing was insincere about Rich. He genuinely took an interest in others and also let them know about him as a person, not only as a sales representative.

What Rich told me that day was a pearl of wisdom I took to heart and have passed along to my clients who are preparing for an interview. Consider it a fact: Employers consider your attitude and likeability as much, and perhaps more, than any other singular hiring factor.

Even when technical skills are critical to the job, your ability to demonstrate that you would fit in as part of the team should never be underestimated. That leads to the Platinum Rule of sales or career transition success: you must make sure people like you — quickly. If you don’t, nothing else much matters.

Jeffrey Gitmore, another extraordinarily successful sales professional says: “This is how I sell... To begin the sale I make friends with my customer before I ever start to talk business. I believe that friendship is the basis for open communication… Open talk, laughter, sharing stories, finding solid common ground… I establish rapport with them by finding common ground. By communicating conversationally, the atmosphere is relaxed and communication is more open. The conversation is natural…”

You can find the complete text Of Gitmore’s comment at in newsletter #279.

Sure your education is important. So is your experience and record of accomplishments. Yet, remember that no matter how qualified you are, so are other candidates. You must begin every connection you make by establishing a genuine rapport and doing your best to ensure people like you quickly.

This week’s career question to consider is: “How might you improve your approach to networking, writing cover letters and resumes and interviewing to include the likeability factor?”

Send your career-related questions to me at To learn more, visit our website at or follow this column each Monday in