In military terms, the Rules of Engagement determine when and how much force should be applied to a given situation. The amount of force applied varies with increasing intensity depending on the level of resistance that the troops are coming up against. An example of how to respond to a level 3 resistance according to the US Marines' ROE goes as follows:

Level 3: Resistant (Active). The subject initially demonstrates physical resistance. Use compliance techniques to control the situation. Level three incorporates close combat techniques to physically force a subject to comply. Techniques include: Come-along holds, Soft-handed stunning blows, Pain compliance through the use of joint manipulation and the use of pressure points.

The Rules of Engagement are designed to create a degree of consistency and order in a situation with the potential to go out of control. When used appropriately, these rules allow soldiers to leverage a situation with the most agreeable outcome--which is to avoid or minimize injuries and casualties on both sides. When not mastered, however, these same rules can increase the risk of hesitation when action is required or misread cues may lead to the use of excessive force when it is uncalled for.

At this point, you may be thinking that this is great information if you are ever in combat, but perhaps not so useful in your job search. However, if you have ever done any sales--and we all have in some way--then you may recognize the relationship between ROE and techniques for overcoming objections. Herein lies the connection to your job search.

If you didn't know it already, the day you enter the job market, you've also entered the world of sales. You are putting your skills and talents on the market and you are asking for a certain price. That's sales. As soon as you start selling, you find that objections are a natural part of the process. Objections are resistance. And when you come to resistance, you will be best served by having your own Rules of Engagement. Otherwise, what could be simple objections can turn into a pattern of rejection.

To help you along we're going to offer some suggestions on how to develop your own ROE.

1. Look for patterns. If it walks like a duck... If you notice the same objections repeatedly, add a new dimension. Change your response. You may not get the results you were looking for, but it won't be what you've had in the past either.
2. Question your reality. Many people see filling a position as the final destination, when it's actually the starting gate. If you realize that you or your interviewer thinks this way, this is a good time to ask about where the company is headed. Like the Marines' "Come Along Hold", a well placed question can shift the direction of an interview.
3. Go on the offensive. The job market is a game. That means there's an offense and defense. Realize that you are interviewing because the company is trying to go somewhere and they are looking for people to help them get there. They are looking for people who will get on the field and play.

Creating your own Rules of Engagement will help give you a sense of where you are in an interview and what you may need to add to the setting in order to keep engaged. All ROE are as unique as the person or group applying them, so you have to create rules that fit you best. Just remember that these rules are guidelines that the other party is not aware of. So stay conscious that the operative word in ROE is ENGAGEMENT. Following ROE is meant to help you stay engaged and not to replace it. That means engage the person, not the rules.

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