Business Articles

What Your Potential Boss Wants To Know About You

You are a liar—a scammer! What you have written about yourself online is fiction that does not correlate with any known reality.  While my experience indicates men are prone to exaggerating their accomplishments, for women it’s often the opposite. In fact this recent HBR study found men rate their “performance 33 percent higher than equally performing women” in a variety of settings, confirming that the gender gap when it comes to self-promotion is alive and well, and holding women back! So, what is it a prospective employer really wants to know?

Hyperbole aside, potential employers are looking for certain things when it comes to hiring and/or promoting an individual. How does an employer learn that you are capable and authentic; especially when you are the least objective painter of your own portrait? And, to be frank, there are probably tens of thousands of people who are qualified for whatever job you are applying for.

These are some of the subconscious assumptions a potential employer or HR person makes upon first viewing your LinkedIn or any professional profile or resume, and what your potential future employer is really trying to determine before calling you. He or she wants to know that you are:

  1.  100% reliable
  2.  Going to get all aspects of the job done
  3. On-time
  4. Not going to make excuses
  5. Easy to get along with and pleasant to interact with
  6. Interesting, well-rounded, “I could learn something I don’t know from this person,” they should think
  7. Not going to rock the boat
  8. Never going to file a lawsuit
  9. Going to go the extra mile and not complain
  10. More than averagely talented

    None of the above is ascertainable from your self-reported job history, dates of employment, and listings of your responsibilities on a resume or LinkedIn profile. 

    The only thing an employer can really trust is what other people with whom you have worked think of you. Did you have a good attitude? Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Are you a fun person to be around? Did you make your previous boss look good?

    And this is why LinkedIn and other recommendations are so important when you are looking for a job: because they subconsciously instill faith that you are authentic, that the employer is not being scammed and is not going to have buyer’s remorse. LinkedIn recommendations are voluntarily written by other verifiable human beings and are difficult to game. Whereas one can buy fake Amazon and Google reviews, LinkedIn, to the best of my knowledge, has not be corrupted, has not been gamed. With a few clicks, one can investigate the recommenders and see how and when these people worked together. Yes, there is obviously a list of references on your resume for employers to call, but that is the very last thing an employer is going to do because it is relatively time-consuming. Authenticity needs to be established upon first sight.

    So, whenever people seek career counseling from me, the first question I ask is “How are your LinkedIn recommendations?” Take a gander at some of your peers on LinkedIn and ask yourself if you would consider hiring them and why. Which profiles seem authentic and which seem unduly “spun.” Of course, educational and professional backgrounds are important. But really, amongst all of the applicants for whatever job you are applying for, your potential new boss wants to know that you are going to make her life easier, potentially more fun, and that hiring you is going to make her look like a genius.

    PINK has reported on the importance of advocates!See if you can enlist some of yours to write recommendations. Take some time today to contact your old co-workers and ask them to write LinkedIn recommendations stating that you are reliable, easy to work with, thoughtful, dedicated, always performed all of your tasks with a smile, are a team player, constantly surprised them, extremely talented, and fun to be around.


“If you don’t believe in yourself nobody else will believe in you.”

 Jessie J.


By Ira Israel

Erin Baule

Published by
Erin Baule

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