Tie breakers – Beating the crowd in a photo finish

Think_for_Myself[1]Similarity is everywhere. Parity is another word used to describe sameness that exists among sports teams. A commodity is a perception by customers that there is little difference between the items portrayed. The common view is that all of the products under review or investigation are interchangeable and can be substituted for each other. When this occurs with your career, something must be done to give you an edge. A slight variation can be seen as an advantage. If candidates are seen as equal, something must be done to break the tie.

There are so many talented candidates applying for jobs and many have equivalent academic and professional skill sets and expertise. College admission officers receive applications from a large number of straight “A” students and others with high grade point averages. Employment offices receive resumes from people with indistinguishable backgrounds. You have to devise a strategy to stand out or “differentiate” yourself from the crowd. Some people have accomplished this in the form of a short term and long term strategy of more education. This can be achieved in the form of an advanced degree or certificate of specialization in an area of need. This can be in the form of skills and experience gained in volunteer activities on the job, in school or in your community.

Leaders are needed in great numbers. Great leadership is desperately needed. Individuals with the emotional and intellectual fortitude to inspire and lead others to complete projects, exceed sales goals and solve problems will find employment. People with the technical, social skills and emotional intelligence will always be in demand.

Old School relatives always spoke of the value of a strong work ethic. It meant working a job to the best of your ability. It meant pride in the quality of your effort. Sometimes it meant working long hours, where the pay was not worth it in the short term, but there were significant long term benefits. There were occasions when a low paying job was used as a stepping stone to a higher paying job.

What would you use as a tie breaker if you were making a decision between several comparable people? This thought process will help you imagine what the interviewer is going through. Examples of potential tie breakers may include the following.

• Unique or various experiences which sets you apart from others
• Interests, hobbies and attributes which could add to the skills of your team. What are your interests that grow you in other areas? Volunteer opportunities and hobbies in art and music can portray an interesting person. You can develop techniques of creativity which can apply to other areas of life when examined for other tangible benefits
• Sports can be a tie breaker if you reached a high level of competency and can demonstrate valuable skills acquired during your playing days. Leadership positions such as the captain of the team and how this enhanced your character.
Some people look for points of identification with the interviewer as a potential tie breaker. I worked for a manager who loved to play racquetball. In a competitive interview when all else was equal I could see him leaning toward the candidate who was an avid racquetball player.

• Working to pay for your college education. Dave was a manager who worked his way through college and paid for 100% of his education. He therefore, had a bias for anyone who demonstrated these attributes. In an interview if he discovered this information, he immediately connected with the candidate. This plays into the decision-making process. He would use this information to break a tie. Granted this information is often impossible to gather, but I want you to think about acquiring extracurricular activities and education which could prove instrumental in your career development. The more well rounded you are, the greater the possibility of breaking the tie with other candidates.

Tony Alessandra, PhD. said years ago that people should work on their breath and depth of knowledge. The depth of knowledge referred to the information in your chosen area of interest; the data, experiences and connections that formed your expertise in your area of specialization. Your breath of knowledge is all of the other things you know outside of your business, which make you well rounded and hopefully more interesting.

You don’t want to be among the less impressive resumes. But even if among the best you must have sufficient skills to set yourself apart from others. Your leadership, risk taking, charisma and communication skills and leadership practices may be exactly what the organization or institution is looking to bring on board. Your hunger, sense of urgency and a track record of achieving goals are attractive to potential employers.

People may overlook the value of communication skills in breaking a tie and distinguishing yourself from others. Many people use their communication skills to enhance their profile. Students and adults join Toastmasters and look for opportunities to make presentations in front of large groups. People take acting classes to improve their ability to communicate. Their involvement has little to do with pursuing an acting career, but everything to do with building their network and improving their skills to communicate with different people.

Your career plan should contain elements or characteristics to set you apart from others. Or you should look at your interests and skills and ask, “Who would be interested in this array of talent? Am I competitive enough? What is missing? What do I need to do short term and long term? If interviewing was compared to a horse race, there would be people scattered all over the track. However, many would cross the line in a photo finish. It is up to the interviewers to find tangible ways to separate the candidates with equivalent skills. They find a way to break the tie. Illustrating and demonstrating your diverse skills, talents, background and connections will hopefully break the tie in your favor.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

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