Achilles had a pesky problem with his heel. And you, as a job hunter, likely possess a weakness or two, yourself, in terms of how you stack up as a candidate in today’s hyper-specialized job market. These days, in fact, there are few individuals who will honestly be perceived as “perfect candidates” by the companies that interview them. Instead, almost everybody has a few weak spots in their marketability, whether this involves being perceived as underqualified or overqualified, having either too many jobs or too few jobs, having either too much formal education or not quite enough, not having the right industry experience, or some other issue altogether.
If you’re searching for a new opportunity, it’s therefore critical that you prepare to respond to these objections ahead of time, so that you can counteract them before they gain any serious leverage in the mind of the employer. How does one go about this? There are many different strategies one can use, depending on the issue at hand. For example, if an employer suggests you don’t have enough experience in a certain skill area, you can show up ready to give great examples of how you’ve demonstrated the desired skill set in the past, you can study the relevant qualification area in depth before the interview, you can bring along relevant work samples to prove your competency, or you can offer to enroll for classes on your own dime to acquire the missing credential. For every objection, thankfully, there are plenty of possible counter-maneuvers available for job seekers to choose from.
One recent tip that we picked up from a legendary career coach we had the chance to meet, however, was the suggestion that job hunters plan to present THREE solid pieces of evidence that will counteract any serious objections to their candidacy. This individual, Dick Gaither, believes that three is the “magic number” it usually takes to truly change the employer’s mind. For example, Mr. Gaither works frequently with convicted felons and often has to prepare them for the most damning objection of all: “Why were you in prison and why should I take a chance on hiring you?” His response is to train his clients to first acknowledge the objection, in a collaborative way, and then walk the employer through three specific reasons why the prison issue shouldn’t be a downright deal-breaker:
“I certainly can appreciate your concern about this issue and can’t blame you for having serious questions about hiring somebody who’s been in the prison system. Having served my time and paid my debt to society, however, I promise you that I’m back on the right path again and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize my newfound freedom. In fact, I’ve taken a number of steps to help make sure that I’m surrounded by nothing but positive influences. For starters, I’m actively involved with a church group that meets three times a week and that works specifically with ex-offenders like myself. Secondly, I’ve been clean and sober for three years and regularly attend A.A. to avoid the problems with alcohol that contributed to my earlier mistakes. And lastly, I’m prepared to work under whatever terms or conditions you feel are necessary to allow me to prove myself in this opportunity — and I’ll even sign a contract to that effect, promising to immediately resign if I violate even the slightest ground rule you establish.”
As you can see, even in this type of extreme hiring situation, a well-prepared candidate ready to offer multiple “proof points” to negate an objection can often overwhelm the employer’s concerns about a particular issue — and will exponentially increase his or her odds of getting hired! So think hard about the issues that might get in YOUR way — and get ready to overwhelm them!