The WIIFM factor

The (wrong) question on people's minds

The (wrong) question on people’s minds?

If I were to forget 99 per cent of the things I learned at Centennial last year, part of that one per cent remembered would be the basis of PR and promotion; the “What’s In It For Me” factor.

I prefer to refer to it in short-form “WIIFM” because it’s clever, concise, clear and most importantly, memorable. But, truth is, the M part of that equation often gets mired in personal beliefs and such, which lose the efficacy of the goal of using WIIFM.

Thus, I propose the alternative:

WIIFT. What’s In It For Them

You’re probably thinking right now, what’s the “effin” difference? It’s simple: it’s a difference of the wording used and which side of the equation they (the reader) are on. What’s In If For Me works when you’re promoting a particular product or service, but it seems that it loses ground outside of those two goal-wise. But, the clever promoter can always go beyond those two and use WIIFM in other areas.

It all boils down to the objective at hand. In fact, the objective is the sole reason for the difference. What’s in it for me is a matter of an appealing to emotions, not needs.


Seeking meaningful, long-term employment is a pain in everyone’s side. Try as I might to figure out why it is such an annoying process, I have come to realize that with each subsequent resume I’ve fixed up and sent out, there’s a constant need for tweaking along the way. The biggest change I’ve come to realize that I needed most was changing my approach to how I used the WIIFM factor.

I realized it’s not a matter of What’s In It For Me that applies in job hunting. I’m not applying for positions, solely being advertised for the benefit of one person. I’m applying to positions for corporations and organizations. That’s where the true distinction comes from. It’s a ME versus THEM issue. Not Me in the personal sense, but rather the first-person sense. It may be a person that reads your resume, but ultimately, they’re looking to fit a position in the company. So, as you present your candidacy, you to say what it is in your hiring that benefits them. What is it that you offer that fulfills their needs? What’s In It For Them?

This is exactly the same mindset that is at work when an employer is looking at resumes. They’re not necessarily interested in generalists, but rather specialists. If you can do a whole wide range of things, there’s a chance your resume is filled with key terms that mean nothing to a Human Resources person or Recruiter. Only someone directly in your line of work is going to know and understand, but getting to that person is a matter of getting past the person in charge of the first stage in that company.

Looking for a little advice to kickstart my head into thinking about how I was writing my resume, I stumbled upon this piece of advice.

“Ask yourself, if you wanted to hire someone to build furniture for your house, would you enlist the help of a handyman who does woodworking along with plumbing, painting and electrical, or a furniture maker who specializes in the specific craft you actually need? I’m going to guess you said the latter.  Employers apply the same basic logic when considering a resume—and hiring and HR managers hate vagueness.” — Creative Niche

The preceding text makes a clear case for writing your resume to be very specific, but the truth is, the average job description contains all sorts of requirements and other information that it often makes editing the document you’re relying on to get you a job, quite difficult. Many job descriptions just repeat the same details over and over again, which make for a truly targeted resume a difficult product to produce.

Add in the reality that some people out there in hiring positions are easily swayed by gimmicks* and you’re left with a lot of highly employable individuals out there that are being overlooked because someone was enamoured by the way a resume looked and not by the information it contained. Of course, these situations totally ignore reality of WIIFM/WIIFT.

Creative resume designs. Here’s what most hiring managers want from a resume: a concise, easy-to-scan list of what you’ve accomplished, organized chronologically by position, plus any particularly notable skills, all presented in a format that they can quickly scan and get the highlights. That’s it. If you try unusual designs or colors, you’ll not only annoy most hiring managers, but you’ll raise questions about whether you think your skills and experience won’t speak for themselves, and whether you put an inappropriate emphasis on appearances over substanceUS News Money


In the end, words on a piece of paper can never do true justice to a prospective employee, but it’s up to that person to realize what their strengths are and how they would benefit a prospective employer. The resume is merely a product of an employees essence and assets. Thus, Objectives need to be impersonal statements of what an individual can offer a company. Thus, your objective should be a statement that reflects “What’s in it for them”. What’s in it for you is obvious: gainful employment.

So, when you look at a resume, whether it is yours or someone else’s, ask yourself, “What sort of assets can this person bring to the table?”

WIIFT shouldn’t stop there. It should be the underlying, driving force behind any communications, especially those that are B2C. But then again, that’s no different from where we’re at with this idea of using it in a resume, right? You, the prospective employee, are the Business and the Company is the Consumer. They are out to consume your skills, abilities and benefits of experience. Maybe that last sentence sounds a bit ominous, but you know it’s true. The company is buying you, you are a commodity, an asset. It sounds dirty but you have to sell yourself as such.

Note: I have recently encountered a rather clever gimmick used by an individual that landed them a job. However, the gimmick employed was actually pertinent to the position. Unfortunately, by their own admission that person was only brought in for an interview because the hirer was amazed by their cover letter that they likely ignored the actual content. Not cool in the grand scheme, but the result cannot be denied. It’s a crap shoot really


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