The Pain of Seeking Work
There is no one equation for successfully finding work. There are certain variables that matter more than others. Those variables are, in order from most to least important.
Who you know
Do not be surprised that 'ability' is sandwiched in between 'personality' and 'first impression.' Ability matters, but not as much as you might think.
I am damned lucky because I am not looking for work. People close to me are, and I feel their pain. There is no more demeaning, arduous, demoralizing and exhausting task than the search for employment. Thirty people recently applied for an extremely specialized position here (where I work) and ultimately, I think we made the right choice. However, while experience had a lot to do with it, the candidate we hired had the best personality. He also once worked with a few of our people. That sort of thing matters, and it determined our final decision.
I don't mean to underplay the importance of a solid resume, because a solid resume determines whether you even come in for the interview. Some think, however, that once it commences, an impressive list of accomplishments is enough to win anybody over. It's not.
I've been telling my job seeker friends that getting along with the person conducting the interview is the single most important factor in determining the chances you'll be hired. Everything else is nice, and puts you in the running, but a memorable, comfortable and pleasant personality fit really ups your chances.
One personality advantage never discussed on job search resource web sites is the advantage of being an intuitive. What does this mean? Well, for starts, it means you can 'read' the person giving the interview and adjust your responses and body language, on the fly, to theirs. Not an easy task, but one that, if pulled off successfully, can synchronize the interview dynamic in your favor.
Is the questioner bored? Anxious? Angry? Desperate? If you can read body language and facial expressions, you'll soon know, and you can adapt instead of floundering, or worse, being at the mercy of the other person's mood.
The importance of interpersonal dynamic and the ever-important 'first impression' are why I often say that luck plays a significant role in any job search. By giving luck a prominent place in the industry of 'helping others find work,' I don't mean to demean candidates' education or accomplishments. If anything, I'm trying to puncture this out of control fantasy that every aspect of the job search process can be controlled by the candidate. It can't.
If you can master the art of a good first impression on your resume, and subsequently control the interview process by intuiting the others' unconscious demands on you and reacting in real-time, you stand a great chance of being a finalist. However, as with life, sometimes people just don't get along, and sometimes that makes all the difference. Luck does play a role. Who you know plays a role. If you aren't being referred, intuiting during the interview can help you to emulate that level of comfort that would otherwise be present if you and the interviewer shared a colleague.
I don't mean to demean the importance of education, or experience, but as a seasoned observer of job search proceedings, those things usually aren't enough.