An Applicant’s Blind Opponent

by Erica Mitchell-Breedlove

In my Human Resources (HR) profession, I review anywhere from 80 – 1,500 employment applications on a weekly basis. Most applications are accompanied by additional precious employment documents, i.e.  resumes, cover letter, vitas.  It is when I actually have the opportunity to speak to interested candidates where an applicant’s “Blind Opponent” reveals itself in one of our mini visitations; thereby, making our meeting of two a threesome.

You see, it is during such visits where an applicant breathlessly initiates a well-practiced pitch to describe their endless employment experience, number of awards received and degrees earned while also preparing for their conversation finale to push 2 or 3 versions of well tailored resumes and exclaim, “Do you have a job for me?”  The applicant has good intentions to get the attention of the employer by distinguishing themselves from all others and closing on the sale to get a job, any job, just a job! However, the employer is distracted by the presence of the Blind Opponent, the applicant!

For this Blind Opponent cannot see the viewpoint of an employer, they can only see their purpose. The Blind Opponent appears desperate, tunnel-visioned and sometimes pushy for they are blind to the employer’s applicant processes, availability of jobs and they, most often, lack the knowledge of who the hiring decision-makers are within an organization. Current and future job opportunities are often talked away and, in most cases, right out of an applicant’s reach because the applicant replaces themselves with their Blind Opponent to speak on their behalf without first asking questions and listening to the employer.

Avoid letting others such as a Blind Opponent speak on your behalf. Re-position your thought process and ask yourself, “What does the employer seek in an ideal candidate?” as opposed to assuming they want whatever you present.  Attempt to create opportunities to do the following:

① Secure a 10-Minute Meet-n-Greet Informational Meeting/Interview

To accomplish this task, ask for a 10-minute meet and greet informational meeting/interview. This can be accomplished in person or by phone. Let the employer know that you just want to gather a little more information about their employment processes. Employers feel more comfortable about speaking to applicants outside of their regular processes when they are made aware of the purpose of the meeting and the amount of time you are requesting; therefore, be courteous of their schedule by staying within the requested timeframe when you land such a meeting.  Remember, ten minutes!

Learn Something New

Prepare in advance two open-ended questions that will provide you with information that you previously did not know about the organization’s employment processes, or about the organization itself. It can be helpful to understand who is responsible for reviewing applications, making hiring decisions and if their organization utilizes hiring timelines. Avoid asking closed-ended yes/no questions.

 

 

Get the Attention of the Employer

To gain positive attention, give the employer 80% talk time. The applicant should take no more than 20% talk time in an employer meet-n-greet informational meeting/interview. This percentage time would be reversed if it were an actual interview; however, this is just an initial meet-n-greet meeting. Employers are pleased whenever they find applicants who take an avid interest in their organization. When applicants approach employers about meetings to discuss specific job openings, employers typically become hesitant for they don’t want to be accused of disproportionately providing information to applicants amongst an applicant pool. So when asked about job openings, the employer will most likely begin rehearsing their commonly used response as to how the applicant may navigate through their website to get additional information. However, most employers love to share how they landed their jobs and how they recruit their best employees. Don’t assume you will get a job with an initial meet-n-greet meeting. Your goal is to gain a positive memorable experience.

Apply What You Learn 

Apply what you have learned, thus far, from what the employer has communicated with you during the meeting and utilize whatever time you have remaining (of your 20% talk time) to pitch your valuable work experience. Employers are very impressed when it appears you have listened to them. Even when an employer gives information that does not sound promising, stay positive and close the meeting with presenting your resume and a quick pitch about your work experience that summarizes why you are a viable candidate. Be organized and very clear in your speech.  Provide eye contact and don’t forget to smile.

Good Luck! Δ

 

 

 

Filed Under: Job ReadinessNovember 2012 Magazine

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