Ever buy a car? Wanted it to be unique? How come as soon as you put your money down you start to notice the very car you just bought, down to color and rims, is all over town?

RAS! The Reticular Activating System is located in your brain stem in the back of your head. Among its many functions, it helps filter information that is coming your way at a rapid clip.

The RAS dampens stimulus and it filters what we want to see or not see. Basically, we program ourselves to filter some things in and some things out!

The RAS filter looks at your past experiences as well as the current problems you may be facing. After a quick evaluation, the RAS helps you to determine what is important info and what can be ignored.

For example, a cave man might prime his RAS by intending to find strawberries for dinner.

A hiring manager might be priming her RAS by worrying about how to solve a particular business challenge today.

Your RAS is primed to learn everything you can about job seeking, which is why you are more likely to pay attention to blogs posts like this!

See where I’m going with this concept?

We’re All Walking Around Worried About Our Problems

Our challenge, as job seekers, is to understand that many other job seekers are going for the same jobs. Right now it is particularly hard to stand out from the crowd.

You want to get noticed and be the one to get the job? Show up in the hiring manager’s RAS!

If a hiring manager is looking for a network engineer who can solve a particular problem, then any network engineer who says “I do that” will be seen. That network engineer could be you!

So you really need to be specific when you are talking with hiring managers.

Knowing what their RAS is primed to look for will give you special notice.

When researching companies, make sure you answer these questions:

  • The name of the hiring manager
  • What business problems this person is facing at this moment
  • How you might be able to help him solve his current problem

How Am I Supposed to Know What Your Problem Is?

Easy. LinkedIn has a very nifty thing called “companies” where you can actually research an organization and its employees. There is plenty of info about a person’s role and responsibility:

  • Follow the same groups they belong to
  • Look for similarities on the profile
  • See what status updates this person is publishing

Remember — know very clearly what someone is primed to pay attention to before reaching out. When you do your research, you’ll find your interview interactions will be WAY more meaningful.

So the next time a career counselor asks you to be more specific about your skill set, you know they are coming from a place of science. They are matching your skills with a future employer’s RAS.

Have you had interesting experiences with your Reticular Activating System? Please share them in the comments below.