How Being Weird Can Land You a Job

Julia Chang
Posted

weird job candidateWhether you love her, hate her, or are merely perplexed by her antics, there is one thing you can’t deny—Lady Gaga leaves an impression.

The eccentric pop star has made it her personal mission to be the opposite of typical … and that could be the key to making you stand out to recruiters, explains Neil Bearden in his Harvard Business Review post.

The professor at business school INSEAD explains that the psychological theory behind this lies in the Von Restorff effect, named after a German psychologist who conducted memory experiments in the 1930s. She found that people have greater recall for items that are the most dissimilar from those around them.

Many candidates, however, may be afraid to stand out too much, for fear of coming off as strange to managers who have dozens of candidates to choose from. Bearden points out that many recent MBA grads have become risk-averse in the current hiring climate. But, he says, it’s precisely because of the competition that you should find something that sets you apart.

“How are you atypical? It’s not that you have 10 rather than 12 years experience. It’s not that you managed 32 rather than 16 people … Will you be remembered or just be one of those other guys?” Bearden asks.

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Now, before you wear a Gaga-esque suit made out of meat to your next job interview, remember that you have to be enjoyably atypical; perhaps what sets you apart is that your business guru is Jay-Z instead of Warren Buffett, or that you constructed a really unusual résumé—not your tendency to interrupt people in conversation.

In addition, Fast Company’s Drake Baer reminds us that people respond to those with whom they have something in common. Yes, you want to highlight unusual experiences, characteristics or opinions that will keep you top of mind with a hiring manager, but you still want to be relatable. Finding that middle ground can mean the difference between a second-round interview and being forgotten as soon as you walk out the door.