This is a guest post by Andrianes Pinantoan.

About 20 years ago, Ryan White, a young teenager of 13 years was diagnosed with HIV. He contracted HIV, not because he was a frivolous individual. Instead, he was born with a genetic disorder called haemophilia, which required him to go through frequent blood transfusions – and one of the needles the hospital used was contaminated.

But despite the fact that Ryan was of no danger to other children (his doctors said so), his school decided it would be safer to expel him. After a lengthy court battle the judge sided with Ryan. His woes, however, did not end there. People around his community still shunned him.

What the court battle did, however, was catapult him into fame. Soon people around the world were moved by his ordeal and celebrities like Elton John and Michael Jackson began working with him to promote AIDs awareness.

When Ryan died 6 years later, the US congress passed the Ryan White Care Act that made what many did to him when was alive, illegal.


Now, of course, Ryan wasn’t the first person to contract AIDs, nor was he the first child to suffer from it. In fact, literally millions were suffering from AIDs when his story broke. So why did HIS story got the attention and get people to act, but not the millions?

Well, one theory is the “identifiable victim effect”.

The identifiable victim effect is a psychological bias in which we care more for one person than the mass. Ryan’s story is but one example. The reason the identifiable victim effect is so powerful is because we are all neurologically hardwired to care for others.


Yet every time I read something that has to do with career, gurus squawk about “keep it strictly on business”
and “nobody wants to know about your personal life”. So what most interviewees do is focus on their professional achievements and never bothered with building relationships.


So you want to stand out of the crowd like a flower in a sea of grass? Make it personal! When it’s personal, people care.


Here are four simple relationship building tactics to try out:


#1. Conduct your research.

Do you have something in common? Trust me, if you start the interview by briefly mentioning a subject the interviewer is passionate about, you’ll score big points!


#2. Get to know your interviewer before you step into the meeting.

You probably already know that 60% to 80% of all jobs are filled before they are even listed. How are these jobs filled? Because the employers knows someone who is up for it. And you want to be that guy!

Some of the most successful people I know spend at least 2 hours a week meeting strangers. But they don’t do it randomly. They’ve identified the companies they want to work with and they contacted the people already working there (usually via LinkedIn).

So when they step into the interview, the people interviewing them are people they already know. Guess who wins the job?


#3. Slip in a little personal information in your interview.

For example, you can tell the interviewer why you choose to do what you do. Did your mother inspire you to be a nurse? Did you witness an injustice that drove you to be cop? Do you just love numbers so much you decided to be an accountant at 8 years old?

These stories tell the interviewers more about your strengths, weaknesses and characteristics better than any of your claims can achieve.


#4. Don’t be afraid to show your appreciation.

A friend of mine sent a handwritten thank-you note to an interviewer, who later told her that because of that thank-you note, she jumped from a just-another-candidate to a potential hire.

Why? Because my friend interviewed for a business development role and that’s exactly the kind of initiative the interviewer is looking for. No amount of claims can replace that one act to prove herself.

Not only that, there’s actually a deeper reason to do this: reciprocity. One study found that fundraisers who give something small – like a rubber bracelet – BEFORE asking for a donation, multiplies the funds they ultimately get, even if some people who take the bracelet simply walked away. The reason is because most people feel obligated to reciprocate.

This is why thank you notes are such a powerful motivator. Deliver value first, and you will boost your chances of getting considered.


About the Guest Author:

Andrianes Pinantoan is part of the team behind Open Colleges, a leading alternative TAFE courses provider in Australia. When not working, he can be found on his personal blog, Journey To Earth.