Cruising through the toy section on Amazon, lured by promises of great deals and discounts, I stumbled upon a toy that hearkened back to my youth. The toy, one of the best-selling and most recognizable toys ever, was The Original Wooly Willy. It captured my attention not so much because there is a resemblance to the character and me today (there is), but because I was reminded of the excitement I felt imagining, creating, and recreating.

You have that same opportunity. You can create and recreate your professional persona. Learning what employers seek, and aligning your talent, is a true test of your ability.

An employer is attracted to a candidate for a lot of reasons including background experience, business acumen, leadership and influencing ability, analytical skills, specialized training, and a ton of other factors. But, at the crux of it all, beyond assessment results and the stacks of positive references, is the person’s likability factor.

When you’re liked by others, especially those you respect, you build credibility. People want to know what you think because you’ve made them feel valued, and you’ve demonstrated a level of forethought and confidence. Likability is about respect for others. It’s about remaining calm and resilient in uncertain times. It’s about demonstrating determination, authenticity, approach-ability, honesty, and consistency through your actions. It’s about the desire – your desire – to continuously learn. It’s about following through on what you commit to do. It’s about the moment when you look someone in the eye, shake hands, and acknowledge one another.

People may like you, but if you’re not driving results, they will lose interest fast.

Likability is only important if you can fulfill – or exceed – expectations. Likability is the nucleus of a professional – and personal – brand from which all other distinguishing factors emanate. The means by which knowledge is gained – or experience is had – and the tools used to accomplish such actions, are crucial to success.

Tactics and technology are defining the next work evolution.

Career-driven people understand they must incorporate the latest innovation – and make use of their established time tables – to surpass their competition. As adjustments to the next wave of technological advancements are made, it is incumbent upon professionals to think about milestones in their career-pursuit. Those who establish timelines for their goals in a particular role with a particular company have a reference marker to gauge development.

For example, if you are at a Manager level within your current company, you may set a realistic goal of becoming a Director within 3 years. That doesn’t mean you have to wait 36 full months, or that you have to wait for a Director level position to come available with your current company. It’s a reference point. To get where you want to go, you have to have short term targets established. So, you may decide to complete your degree, take advanced or technical training, or learn a new language, etc. during the 3 year time frame you established.

At each milestone, wise candidates review their status with their predetermined target, and adjust accordingly.

You may find some goals take longer to achieve than others, but your ability to flex will make navigation easier. Maneuvering, tracking successes, building professional expertise, and setting realistic goals are capabilities employers are drawn to. Think about how you can communicate your malleability, learning ability, and likability to a prospective employer. If you get it right, you will attract potential employers better than a wand adding a handlebar mustache to Wooly Willy’s face.


David Rose is an author, candidate advocate, and the Vice President of Recruiting with YELLOW DOG Recruiting, a recruiting firm specializing in the placement of leaders in the hospitality and services industries. Follow David on Twitter @YELLOWDOG_01.