Your skills and experience are worthless unless the employer trusts you

Nick-KossovanOne question is running through your interviewer’s head: “Can I trust this person?” You never want your interviewer to think, “Something doesn’t feel right.”

I once had an interview where my interviewer said, “I like you, Nick. I think you can improve our call center metrics and increase our CSAT scores.”

Being young, slightly cocky, but intuitively knowing I’ll not get hired if my interviewer didn’t like or trust me, I replied, “Don’t just like me, trust me.”

trust job search

Photo by Joshua Hoehne


Yes, I got a second interview, resulting in a job offer, which I ultimately declined.

There are keys to job search success:

  • Networking
  • Your LinkedIn profile and resume
  • Being likeable (Being likeable supersedes your skills and experience.)
  • Your communication skills

If the employer doesn’t trust you, all the above is irrelevant. Everything, especially when starting a relationship, begins with trust. Trust translates to confidence in. The opposite of trust is distrust, aka. doubt.

As a job seeker, you must look, speak, and behave in ways that will establish trust with employers. Don’t just focus on selling your skills and experience, which, to reiterate, are meaningless unless the employer trusts you based on these five “Will you?” questions:

Will you…

  1. Deliver results? (primary question)
  2. Be easy to manage?
  3. Not be a disruption to the existing team and the company?
  4. Be reliable?
  5. Show professionalism and integrity?

Hiring is based on trust. When a hiring manager gives you the green light to be hired, they trust your ability to do the job, obtain the results required, be reliable, be manageable, and work well with the existing team.

There isn’t a hiring manager who hasn’t been taken in by a candidate who said all the right things and then failed to deliver. When you’re being interviewed, you can be sure that your interviewer has been fooled by a candidate at least once and isn’t looking to be fooled again, which you should empathize with.

Among hiring managers, stories of candidates who didn’t walk their talk are all too common, which explains why hiring processes have become more “stretched out.” Therefore, to gain a competitive job search advantage, make building and establishing trust your primary job search strategy, not simply trying to sell your skills and experience, which I can’t overstate, are worthless unless the employer trusts you.

Holistically, the hiring process has two touchpoints that provide you with opportunities to build trust.

First touchpoint: The application process.

A hiring manager posts a job online. Within 24 hours, they receive 100’s, if not 1,000s, of resumes, all from strangers. In this context, it is easy to understand why networking and being referred will shorten your job search. Who’s more trustworthy, a candidate who’s a stranger or a candidate who was referred? Having never met Bob, I don’t know him. However, suppose Mary, whom I’ve known and trusted for seven years, refers Bob to me. In that case, I’ll regard Bob as more trustworthy than a non-referred candidate who’s a stranger to me.

Whenever I advise a job seeker, I emphasize the importance of not being a stranger to employers as much as possible. Although it may not always be possible to network into a company, you have the ability, by using LinkedIn and other social media platforms, to create a personal brand and establish yourself as an SME (Subject Matter Expert). A low-hanging fruit for building trust is becoming known within your industry and profession. We tend to trust those we know, even if we only know them by their reputation.

Presenting your results numerically, while your competition is just offering opinions (“I’m a team player,” “I love to sell,” “I’m a JAVA coding Ninja”) establishes trust. Your LinkedIn profile and resume should be void of opinions and solely populated with results you’ve achieved. (In 2023, I managed an Inside Sales Team of 15 agents, generating $17.6 million in sales. The average order size was $4,250.”)

You can further establish trust by offering documents supporting your claims about your skills and accomplishments. (e.g., productivity reports, 360 feedback, performance reviews)

Proof = Trust

Second touchpoint: The Interview(s)

The first touchpoint lays down the foundation for trust. Establishing trust occurs during the second touchpoint: when interviewing.

When interviewing, be honest, clear, and specific about your skills, experience, and career goals. Never make contradictions or exaggerations. Above all, be your authentic self. Authenticity is the primary driver to creating trust. I don’t speak for just myself when I say, “I tend to trust candidates whom I believe I’m interacting with the real them.

I’m not implying that the times you weren’t hired were due to your interviewer not trusting you; many factors go into making a hiring decision. The harsh truth is that while your interviewer may have trusted you, they trusted the candidate they hired more.

A great interview is one where you leave your interviewer(s) feeling they can trust you; therefore, a few days before an interview, begin asking yourself, “What can I do to get my interviewer(s) – most likely a stranger, even if you were referred – to trust me?”

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job.

For interview requests, click here.

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