How To Use Your “Unfair Advantage” To Land Interviews

Eyram Sotome June 22, 2015
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What Is An Unfair Advantage? Use Yours to Land Interviews!

When I was a student, I would always hunt for free food.

Always!

People would call me ” The Free Food Guy” because I always knew where the free food was. Since I was working in EG at the time (General Engineering Department in my school), all of my cool snatches would be noticed whenever anyone enters the office.

I would get (and eat) tons of pizza, wraps, sandwiches… you name it.

Free food chasing

All of that thanks to the little effort I used to locate where the free food was. It really was the most enjoyable part of going to a school where you pay $35,000 for classes but you still fight with your professor to re-check your homework assignment.

However, thanks to my free food name, I was also able to land an interview with a company I really respected. And wanted to work for badly.

I bet you are probably wondering how I got the interview.

What did I do to get that interview?

Well, this post is for you…

Defining The Unfair Advantage

Do you have a name? Maybe it’s ” Mr. Fix it” or ” Lady Talk-A-Lot”.

I’m just guessing.

But, did you know that your name can brings you places too?

When you get a name, people recognize you for something. It could be anything but people know you for that because you are good at it.

Just like how you know me now for giving awesome job hunting advice 🙂

So, because you are known for that specific trait, it can be used to your advantage since you can talk about that experience nonstop. Better, it won’t even bother you to talk about it because you do it so often.

So, what is an “unfair advantage”?

Your “unfair advantage” is something that makes you different from anyone that sits next to you.

Basically, anything.

Do you dance? Do you play basketball? Are you the captain of the ninja monkey crew (are you?!)?

Use your personal skill (or skills) to your advantage. As long as they aren’t anything that you know you aren’t supposed to say, teach them something about yourself though your skills. It could be that you know 2 languages, or that you play piano. Again, anything that you can do besides study is an “unfair advantage” because only you will have a story that is unique to yourself.

Using Your Unfair Advantage To Lure Them In

When I wanted to work for Con Edison, I pulled a trick (on myself) that got me that interview: I wanted food.

Yes, it’s very funny, but that day, my school had a “pre-career fair” event where you could eat breakfast with the recruiters that came.

I didn’t care about it that much since I told myself I was going to see them at the career fair anyways. But, remembering that there was free food, I woke up quick that morning and went to that event so I could take the remains of the free food there. And finally, I was stocking up my plate I met 2 people from Con Edison who were talking about how they used to love the free food.

Awesome.

After 30 mins, we ended up talking about what kind of food we could find while we were in school and their taste. It was so funny! However, after we settled down (and before I left), they asked me for my resume. Now, I already knew that having my resume around would be useful so I gave it to them and used my “unfair advantage” to tell them this:

Eyram – ” It was great talking to you guys. What was it like for you applying as a student to Con Edision?”

Recruiter 1 – ” I got in through an interview at the career fair. Actually, I went to this event. Pretty ironic, actually.”

Recruiter 2 – ” I got my masters here and applied online. But, I knew someone there before so the process went smoothly”(My question is here!)

Eyram – ” What should a student do to guarantee a spot for an interview with Con Ed?”

Recruiter 1 ” As long as they prove that they care about the company and are motivated to work, that’s good enough for me. Most of the time, we just get resumes all day and no one is interesting. We just smile all day and compare the resumes in the office. But, I like you though, so I’ll make sure to highlight yours. Good Luck!”

Yep. I got that interview.

…and you can too!

In order to use your unfair advantage correctly,

  1. Start the conversation by telling a story about your “unfair advantage” that sparks their curiosity or makes them laugh (Ex. I told them how I rushed there because of the free food). It makes you keep your calm and the recruiter feel comfortable with you.                   Conversation with recruiter
  2. Lure them using honest questions that show interest in the company. Once you are on settled grounds, ask questions that will show your interest in the company. They will honestly reply to your question because they see you are easy to get along with.
  3. Don’t ask for an interview but offer them your resume. When you beg, you lose. Always make sure that you leave a good impression after your Q&A session by offering your resume and telling them you will pass by during the fair.

If you follow those steps, you’re sure to find someone that is interested in you.

Make you also take the initiative to talk to the recruiter if you are near them. It may turn into a interview winner.

Now, it’s your turn to tell your stories.

What “unfair advantage” do you have? Have you ever used it? Let me know in the comments below!

Category: Job Hunting
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Eyram Sotome

I like helping those who need help. Kind of like superman without the tights. To put it simply, you are in the right place. Thanks for reading.

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Comments (18 people commented this post)

  • avatar image

    tha2014.org

    March 5, 2017 Reply
    Usually I do not read post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, very nice post.
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    Jason

    October 26, 2016 Reply
    I agree - this has been a huge problem for me as well. As I entered my 50s getting a job has become harder and harder
  • avatar image

    jaime

    December 31, 2014 Reply
    What, if any, are your tips or advice for an "old" engineer who has been out of the business for many years? Am I just out of luck and over the hill?
    • avatar image

      Mike

      August 2, 2015 Reply
      As an "old" engineer, you probably just need to get your foot in the door whatever way possible. Make sure that your skills are still up to snuff, and do something. Whether it's a small project that shows you still got it, or some type of self-improvement/certification, I think these can get employers attention. Also, you might need to work on networking. If you are an "old" engineer, you should probably try and reach out to your peers from before, and let them know about your journey, and ask how they are doing.
  • avatar image

    Steven Rupe

    November 29, 2014 Reply
    Hi Eyram, I having quite difficulty interviewing. My problem is the interview it's self. I'm always nervous and not always giving my best. What are some hints and tips to land a perfect interview. Also, What is the best answer to this question: "Why shouldn't we hire you"? Every time I'm asked this question, I freak out... I don't know what to say! Anyways, Thanks, Steven Rupe
  • avatar image

    emma

    October 21, 2014 Reply
    really good points. I definitely need to working on how to show my passions to the company to the job that I apply for. thank you very much for sharing this.
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    Priya

    July 2, 2014 Reply
    Hello Eyram, My case is kinda different - I chose to do my master's degree in a French university and despite making a lot of efforts, even with the language, I am not able to make it through. Now I have this interview in a few days and I am a bit nervous. If it is in English, I would be able to do something better but if it's in French, I might end up like some one who has a stammering issue :p . I cannot speak normally ( without thinking so much ) when I am nervous. I understand that when you speak to people, its not the value of the technical matter that makes the difference but it's the way you express yourself and connect with them. How is it possible to pass that feeling of connection in a foreign language.. A bit confused but optimistic Priya :)
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    Chigozie

    May 13, 2014 Reply
    It looks damn easy for you Eyram. Though I think your case is a case of one in a hunderd or more, the impresion to a recruiter can be proved as Elawa said by your good resume first. Other things follows. Thanks for the insiration
    • avatar image

      Eyram Sotome

      May 24, 2014 Reply
      Although, I was able to find the recruiter at a relaxed position, isn't that the point? People will hire people they like first before they look at their technical skills because people they like are good communicators. Still, I agree that without the resume, you can't do anything. Thanks for the comment. You guys inspire me!
  • avatar image

    Ramy

    April 15, 2014 Reply
    Hi Eyram, I improved my resume with your tips but I just don't seem to be getting a call. I also just graduated from the university and got 3 months of instrumentation experience. I only got a call because some friend of mine referred me to the company they were working. I also learnt that contributing to LinkedIn Discussions is another way of getting noticed. I used to go to Career Fairs at university but they aren't accepting resumes in person any more. All of them ask us to upload our resume on the website only. What do you suggest? Are there any other way to get an interview call? Thanks.
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    Vijay

    December 27, 2013 Reply
    Thanks for the story. It's simple and easy, I will definitely know how to spark a conversation next time at an event like a career fair. Thanks again Vijay
    • avatar image

      Eyram Sotome

      December 27, 2013 Reply
      Anytime, Vijay. What was really funny about that story (at least for me) was the fact that I only really went for the free food. Sometimes, concentrating on something else leads to good results ;)
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    Davide

    October 8, 2013 Reply
    Hi Eyram, thanks for the funny story. It is also instructive, because it was not just a contingency, it was your plan!! :) I believe that, if you really want to work somewhere badly, if you fell it like "necessary" for your future, you can always do it. Just insist, and the only fact that you are interested exclusively and sincerely in them, will make it work. It's a bit like how it is with girls
    • avatar image

      Eyram Sotome

      October 9, 2013 Reply
      Thanks Davide! It's true that it is planned, but there were so many factors to consider that I treated it more like a game. There are some people that compare interviewing to "dating" but I just find it fun to be genuine and honest, while keeping your objectives in the back of your head. Without that, you'd be drained from all the nervousness, right? :)
  • avatar image

    George Ebo

    August 7, 2013 Reply
    Thank for your advice and I want you share the ideals or understanding of what recruiters looking for with me. If you can help me to improve my resume.
  • avatar image

    sweta

    December 21, 2012 Reply
    Hi thanks a lot it helped me a lot to improve my resume... and get through many interviews with your help. I wanted to know as i m a fresher just passed out people ask for job experience. I dunno if they don't give a chance how can any one get experience. What should I do in this case. I have done professional course of CCNA. I have cleared many interviews but most of the reject just bcoz of experience.... Thanks sweta.
    • avatar image

      Angie Elawa

      September 18, 2013 Reply
      Sweta, I am not sure if my response is too late and you already found a job, but every company has their own vision of the candidates they are hiring, even though they do interview Entry Level (non- experienced) candidates but they are always going for the more experienced person, unless the personality and passion of the EE candidate really interest them. I believe it is the way you interview that really matters, also your resume has a very deep impact on setting up that first interview. Good luck and let me know if I can help out Angie Elawa Engineering Recruiter RJS Associates 8602785840 aelawa@rjsassociates.com
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