How to Take a Human Approach to Your Job Search, with Mia Williams

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Job seekers are nervous. If you’ve had a recent interview, you can probably identify with that statement. But there is a way to see a job search as a natural process between humans and one that allows you to be yourself. Find Your Dream Job guest Mia Williams is here to share how to create a resume that uses keywords to showcase not only your relevant experience but who you are as a person. Mia also gives some great tips on preparing for an interview, as well as how to network more effectively. 

About Our Guest:

Mia Williams is the founder of  The Colors of Her Success. It’s an online platform for Gen Z women of color learning to navigate success in life and career.

Resources in This Episode:

Want to hear more from Mia? Check out her podcast by visiting The Colors of Her Success Podcast

From our Sponsor: Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. Get a free review of your resume today from one of TopResume’s expert writers.


Find Your Dream Job, Episode 382:

How to Take a Human Approach to Your Job Search, with Mia Williams

Airdate: January 18, 2023

Mac Prichard: 

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. 

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. 

Get a free review of your resume today. 

Go to 

Automation plays a big part in hiring. 

So you might believe when looking for work that you need to think like a robot. 

But you’ll have more success if you focus on things that only people understand, like relationships and values. 

Mia Williams is here to talk about how to take a human approach to your job search. 

She’s the founder of The Colors of Her Success. It’s an online platform for Gen Z women of color learning to navigate success in life and career. 

She joins us from Prince George’s County in Maryland. 

Mia, what does a human-centered job search look like? Tell us about that. 

Mia Williams:

Yeah. So, a human-centered job search is really the thought and the idea of keeping the human element in mind. We often overthink job searching. We make it something so big that we forget that it is a process that involves people. People are the ones hiring for their teams. People are the ones reviewing your resume, and people are the ones doing the interviewing, and when you can sort of take that human approach of remembering that people are behind it, it alleviates the nerves that you may have when it comes to job searching. It makes it less daunting and yields the best and most authentic results for both you and the company. 

Mac Prichard: 

Well, tell us more about how that human-centered approach can help you get both the job you want and the career you want. 

Mia Williams:

Yeah, absolutely. So, when it comes to job searching, there are three places that you can remember the human element that comes into play. So the first is in your resume writing. The second is in your networking. And then the third is in your interviewing. 

So, when it comes to resume writing, as a former resume writer, the number one rule that you want to keep in mind is to write for a human to read it. Right? So you want to make sure you’re not only utilizing the keywords and taking the necessary steps to pass the applicant tracking system. But remember, when it passes that tracking system, it’s going into the hands of a person. 

So, with that in mind, you have to think about how you format your resume. Is it a resume that you would want to read? Is the font clear and visually appealing? Is there enough white space so that it’s not jam-packed because you tried to squeeze all of your experience into it? Do the bullets showcase not just the work you’ve done, but do they tell a story that the recruiter or the person reviewing your resume could clearly follow? 

So, keeping that in mind as you’re writing your resume. When you finish the document, take a look back, and say, is this something that I would want to read? Is this something that makes sense to me? 

Mac Prichard: 

And in hiring, one way automation is used is, and you’ve mentioned this, automated tracking systems. It’s a software algorithm that helps review and organize resumes that are eventually seen by a person. 

There’s a lot of advice out there, as you know, Mia, about writing your resume for robots, and you just made a great case for writing for people. What does a resume that’s written for robots look like? 

Mia Williams:

A resume that’s written for robots. Oh man, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen people take the job description and literally just copy and paste what’s in the job description into their resume because it uses the keywords that they know the applicant tracking system is looking for. The problem with that is you’re not telling an authentic story about your experience. 

So, what I recommend people do is to use those keywords, but use it in a way that fits your story and your experience. When you are writing for a robot, you don’t really care about the story that your resume telling. You’re not thinking about telling at all. You’re just thinking about how I just want this to get past the applicant tracking system so I can just move past that process. And I understand it because sometimes knowing that there’s an automated system can be a little daunting when it comes to job searching, and you want to feel like, especially if you’re at a point where you feel as though you’re not hearing back from jobs, you’ll become a bit desperate to do things like that. But I want you guys to remember to keep the human element in mind as you’re writing it. 

Mac Prichard: 

What’s your best advice, Mia, for someone who’s sitting down, and they’re looking at their resume, and they’re thinking about the tips you’ve shared about writing for a person but they’re also aware of the importance of including keywords? 

How do you balance that? How do you put in just enough keywords so that you do get past that applicant tracking system but create something that is going to engage the human reader, who eventually will see it? 

Mia Williams:

I think making sure that your experience is actually aligned to the job that you’re trying to apply for. If that is the case, then it won’t be hard to utilize the keywords into your resume and into the bullets. So trying to remember that keywords are important, but they are not the sole thing that is going to get you hired at a job. 

You have to remember to build it into your experience effectively. You want to write it in a way that makes sense to you because if it makes sense to you, then it would make sense for the recruiter. 

I’ve seen resumes where people use keywords just for the sake of using keywords, and then it makes no sense, and what you’re trying to say, and the experience you’re trying to showcase, won’t resonate because it’s just keyword-heavy, and it’s nothing. So people can tell when the keywords that you’re using are sort of fluff or if the keywords are actually what is telling the story about your experience. 

Mac Prichard: 

We’ve talked about how to write a human-centered resume and why it’s important to do that, and the importance of automation in hiring. I want to back up a bit, Mia. Why do employers use applicant tracking systems in that first screening round? What’s the benefit to hiring managers in having this tool? 

Mia Williams:

I think from the recruiter’s end, it helps weed out the noise. Right? Because they’re getting so many applications from people that it can be overwhelming for a person. Right? So, I do think having that applicant tracking system is a way to weed out the people who maybe aren’t qualified or aren’t remotely qualified for the job. 

That’s where I’m thinking that they’re coming from. I’m not a recruiter. But if I were, I could see that that would be why they would do it. 

Mac Prichard: 

So you mentioned three areas where you should focus in a human-centered job search. One was resumes. Another was interviews. Tell us more about that, Mia. What’s a human-centered approach to an interview look like? 

Mia Williams:

Yeah. So, the interview is my all-time favorite way to bring in the human element because interviews tend to make people extremely nervous to the point that we forget that we are there because we can potentially add value to the company. We forget that, at the end of the day, the interviewer is just a person, and we can connect with them in this interview on a human level. So interviews allow that level of connection that writing a human-centered resume doesn’t because I’m face-to-face with you and having the opportunity to connect. 

So after you’ve prepared for the interview, the things you should remember when it comes to the human-centered approach is to, one, think about physical appearance. Now, I know that this may seem superficial, but as humans, the first thing we notice about a person is their appearance. Show up to the interview dressed your best because it makes you feel confident. But also, how you’re dressed, your body language, and how you show up as a whole makes the first impression before you say a word. 

The second thing is when you’re showing up as yourself, let your personality shine. Not only are people looking for your experience and how you can do the work, but they also are checking to see if you’re a good fit for that company’s culture. You would be surprised at how many people are personality hires, and if you’ve never heard that term before, personality hires are people who get the job because of their ability to connect and for their ability to be themselves in the interview, so much so, that the interviewer remembers them and will likely pick them over another candidate who may have had more experience but didn’t connect as well. People who aren’t as qualified for a job can beat out other candidates because of how much they utilize their personality and how well they connect with their team. 

So a few things that I like to remember when it comes to being in an interview is have the art of relatability. How can you relate to this person on a human level? Get to know them. Who they are both inside of work but also outside of work. What hobbies do they have? And utilize the interview as a conversation versus an interview. Right? You don’t have to think of it as I’m being interviewed. Okay, they asked a question. I answered it. It can flow like a conversation. 

The other way I think you can continue to build that connection with the interviewer is following up the day after the interview with a thank you note because it shows that no matter where the offer lies, you are still grateful for the time this person has spent with you because as people, as busy people, our time is valuable. So we’re showing that I appreciate you for taking the time to interview me. 

Mac Prichard: 

Well, let’s pause there, Mia. I want to take a break. Stay with us. When we come back, Mia Williams will continue to share her advice on how to take a human approach to your job search. 

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Mia Williams.

She’s the founder of The Colors of Her Success. It’s an online platform for Gen Z women of color learning to navigate success in life and career. 

She joins us from Prince George’s County in Maryland.

Now, Mia, before the break, we were talking about how to take a human-centered approach to your job search, and at the start of our conversation, you laid out three areas we should cover. One was resumes, the second was interviews, and the third was networking, and we had a good conversation about both resumes and interviewing. I just want to talk a little more about interviews. 

You mentioned preparation before you go into an interview, and tell us more about the kind of preparation you recommend to take a human approach, a human-centered approach to your job search. 

Mia Williams:

The first is to become a sleuth. A little bit of a detective. The first thing you want to know is enough about the company. Right? You want to be sure that you have enough information on what the company is, what their values are, what they have to offer, who their clients are, who they’re serving. Very important to know about the company.

A way I typically take it a step further is to try to find a little bit of information out about my interviewers. So typically, before the interview, you’ve been in communication with the people who are going to interview you. Then I would use that opportunity to check out their LinkedIn, check out their personal website if they have it, to find any information that I can to see sort of what their standpoints are on the work that they’re doing if they’re doing any work outside of their nine to five. What are the ways that I can sort of come into the interview prepared to know who I’m talking to? 

Another common or uncommon way that I like to prep for an interview in a human-centered way is by asking people who have worked at the company before or who are currently working at the company. I may look them up on LinkedIn and reach out to them and let them know, hi, I have an interview with this company, and I’m wondering if I could learn a little bit more about your experience. Right? This way, I can get a little bit of information on the job, the company, the culture from other people before I step foot into the interview. 

The reason I say I ask people who no longer work at the company; I think that’s really important because I would want to know, what made you leave? What was it that made you not want to stay? Was it the pay? Or did you just get a better opportunity? Was the culture not a good fit? What was it? If you feel comfortable asking. 

But also ask about their experience. What did you like? What do you think could’ve been improved? What is something you wish you could’ve done differently? All of these human connections are ways that you can come into the interview sort of ahead of the game with research and understanding on what and who this company is, but also the people who are in it. 

Mac Prichard: 

You gave us examples in the first segment, Mia, about how you might apply that research in an interview, talked about sharing common connections. What are some other examples of how to make that research work when you’re sitting down with a hiring manager and a recruiter in an interview room? 

Mia Williams:

Absolutely. So, sometimes a common interview question that somebody may ask or that a recruiter may ask is, what do you know about our company? So, that’s why you want to be prepared on the company front. But then they’ll ask you the question of, well, what questions do you have for us? And this is your time to shine because you can then take the information that you gathered and sort of formulate your own questions to understand more about the company. 

I think people go into interviews asking questions that they think they should be asking and not so much asking the questions they really want to know. Taking the question of, what is your company culture like? And taking it a little bit further and saying, what are some ways that you think you can improve the company culture? Or what are some ways that you’ve seen your company culture improve over time? If that’s something maybe you talked to somebody about, and they mentioned company culture was something they could’ve done a little bit better at. 

So, really just using the prior research to formulate the questions that you may have for this interviewer in the interview. 

Mac Prichard: 

You work with so many people who are going through a job search at your business. In your experience, Mia, how many people typically do this kind of research and look to create these kinds of human connections in interviews? 

Mia Williams:

Not many. These are things that people aren’t thinking about, and that is the reason I even thought about this human element of it at all because people are overthinking it to the point where they’re becoming super nervous and they’re not being themselves in the interview, and they’re trying to answer the questions in ways that the interviewer might like versus authentically answering the questions. So for me, I recognize that people aren’t doing or taking that human-centered approach to interviewing. 

My favorite thing to say to people who are preparing for an interview is the saying- if you’ve ever heard somebody say, picture everybody with their clothes off when you’re giving a public speech. It’s the same thing because it’s a matter of taking the thing that’s scary and humanizing them, and that’s sort of what it is when it comes to interviewing. We’re taking, or job searching in general, we’re taking this thing that feels so scary and so life-changing, and we’re making it human. 

Mac Prichard: 

The third area that you encourage job candidates to focus on in following a human-centered approach to job search is networking. What does a human-centered approach to networking look like, Mia? 

Mia Williams:

Yeah, so networking is so important for your job search. I think eighty-five percent of jobs are found through networking, and similar to interviewing, networking is another opportunity to connect with somebody face-to-face and have a conversation with them, or not even face-to-face but maybe over the phone. But having that human level of connection to get you to the next step in your career. 

So, when it comes to people and networking with people, you have to understand how people work, and you have to understand how to communicate with people in ways that resonate with them and make sense. So, if you are going to network with somebody in your job search process, you first have to identify who you want to network with and why. Right? Before you go into that conversation, think about what it is you’re hoping to gain from that interaction. 

My biggest tip is to schedule time because this is time to chat with them and sort of have and share that human connection. So, my tip is to always come prepared with an agenda of topics or questions you want to talk about because to understand people is to understand that they are busy and their time is valuable. 

My second tip is to always see the professional as a person. So like I mentioned in the interview, some of my favorite ways to understand a person is who they are outside of work. We are all somebody outside of our nine to five job. What do you like to do outside of work? Do you have pets? What do you care about? What are you passionate about? What books or shows have they been enjoying? All of these things make sense. Even though they sound mundane, they actually are extremely beneficial to helping us get a deeper level of connection in addition to connecting over career topics. 

This helps you stand out as well because people remember when they enjoy a conversation with a person. Right? People remember the person who made them laugh or asked a really thought-provoking question about their personal lives, of course, within reason. We don’t want to get too personal. But don’t be afraid to tap into that human element when you’re networking with people because it ultimately helps build that deeper level of connection. 

And then, my final tip for networking is to always keep a running list of the people you interview with or the people you network with because you will want to circle back with them and let them know how your job search has gone. 

Let’s say you network with somebody about getting a job, you guys had a phenomenal conversation; two months later, you end up getting the job that you both talked about. It’s only right to go back and let them know, hey, we had that conversation back in October, and I wanted to let you know things went well, and I actually ended up getting the position. Now, they see that you’ve followed up with them, and this is likely somebody who you may want to keep up with, and you guys can just consider yourselves part of each other’s network. 

Mac Prichard: 

Quick advice for people who might be introverted or shy about networking. How do you see people who are in that situation take a human-centered approach to networking? 

Mia Williams:

That’s so funny you ask that. That is a topic I could write a book on is how to network as an introvert because, believe it or not, I am an introvert, and networking is something that used to make me very nervous as well, and so I would find that the more I had conversations that didn’t spark any sort of human connection, the less I enjoyed them.

So, the way I made networking fun was to make it personal and was to sort of take it outside of work but sort of have that human element to us. As introverts, I understand that networking can be extremely nerve-wracking. But I don’t want to use being an introvert as an excuse to not network at all. So, we’ve got to just network in ways that make sense to us.

As an introvert networking, larger networking events never work for me. I’m more of an intimate small group gathering kind of person or a one-on-one person. I don’t do well in large settings; I feel overwhelmed, and then I feel like things are forced. That is what you don’t want to do is to feel like your networking is forced. You kind of want to go in being yourself and feeling comfortable with the conversation that you’re having and feeling interested in the conversation that you’re having. 

Mac Prichard: 

Well, this has been a terrific conversation, Mia. Now, tell us, what’s next for you?  

Mia Williams:

Absolutely. So, I am in season two of The Colors of Her Success Podcast. You can find it on all podcast platforms. But if you would like to keep up with The Colors of Her Success, you can always subscribe to our newsletter to stay in touch with our events and anything that we have going on on social, that we can offer you. 

Mac Prichard: 

Well, it’s a terrific podcast that you host, and I encourage our listeners to check it out, as well as learn more about your other services by visiting your company’s website,, and we’ll be sure to include that in the show notes and the website article about the episode as well. 

Now, Mia, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to take a human-centered approach to your job search? 

Mia Williams:

Think about a human-centered job approach as a way of thinking when you meet someone famous. Right? We’re nervous. We don’t know what to do. But then somebody will say, they put their pants on one leg at a time. We’re all human. We all do the same things, and just because you’re job searching doesn’t mean that you’ve lost that human element to connect with people. 

Mac Prichard: 

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Again, that’s

Next week, our guest will be Alicia Ramsdell.

She’s the founder and CEO of Mindful Career Path. Her company’s services help inspire your career, empower your potential, and create your legacy.

You’re ready to give your notice and move on to your next opportunity.

But have you thought strategically about why you’re leaving and what can happen next to you and your career? 

Join us next Wednesday when Alicia Ramsdell and I talk about the three questions to ask before you leave your job.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List. 

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo.  Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.