Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Friday, October 24, 2008

Yup, Details Seem to Sell

As career developers we have a sense that details presented in resumes and other marketing materials will help to "sell" clients—especially details given in numerical terms. We ask clients to estimate monetary savings, percentage failure rate reductions, and so on. Empirical evidence of the value of this practice doesn't seem to be exactly abundant but I've just run across some and thought I'd mention it to you.

One of the blogs I read almost every day is "Mind Hacks." Here's a quote from today's.

"Ars Technica has a fantastic article on a recent study that found that numerical specifications in adverts have a huge effect on our choices, even when they're meaningless.

The numbers can be ratings, technical details, supposed representations of quality - it doesn't seem to matter. In general, bigger is better and the study found that we tend to be swayed by the numbers even when it directly contradicts our experience.

The first test involved megapixels. The authors took a single image, and used Photoshop to create a sharper version, and one with more vivid colors; they told the students that the two versions came from different cameras. When told nothing about the cameras, about 25 percent of the students chose the one that had made the sharper image. But providing a specification reversed that. When told that the other model captured more pixels using a figure based on the diagonal of the sensor, more than half now picked it. When it comes to specs, bigger is better, too, even if the underlying property is the same. Given the value in terms of the total number of pixels captured, the preference for the supposedly high-resolution camera shot up to 75 percent."

So, what does this mean to a job seeker? Clearly, it is simply that facts are extremely influential inasmuch as they can, under some conditions, overcome another person's perception of reality.