Stand out by being yourself.
By Sandy Johnson, Senior Consultant
Standing out is what it’s all about in a successful job search. If you’re not separating yourself from the pack, you’ll get lost in the pile. But if you’ve made it to the interview stage, you’re clearly doing something right. You’ve been noticed and your potential employer thinks you just might have the chops to do the job. Step #1. Check.
Step #2. Prove it. Show up for the interview and reinforce what they already believe about you. This is where it can get nerve wracking. Some of my clients have fretted, “What if I don’t know the answer?” The more direct ones simply cut to the chase and ask me, “What is the right answer?”
The best answer is the one that will make you stand out. You don’t have to be better than the other candidates, but you do have to be different. Being different makes you memorable. And if you can be memorable in a “qualified, I can do the job” kind of way, you’ll stay near the top of the pile. To be clear, you don’t have to do anything now, to be different. You already are. Your work is to identify and articulate your differences.
Here are my three tips for getting into the unforgettable pile:
- Be prepared to tell stories about how you work. Stories are memorable. While your qualifications may be similar to those of other candidates, your experiences are unique to you. Consider how your past activities demonstrate the competencies required for the role and how you’ll describe the specifics.
- Tell your stories with details. You may think they’re not interesting. They are. Opportunities to shine get lost because candidates assume their stories are boring, or lack significance merely because they were imbedded in the routine of their former daily work. These stories, the ones which seem lacklustre to the storyteller can be riveting to the audience. Make your story more impactful by outlining the context, what you did, and what happened. In interview lingo, this is called “situation, action and result” and equates to evidence. Sharing evidence of how you were successful in your last role easily translates to how you can do the same in your next one. Quite simply, this shows that you are now both qualified and credible on the job.
- Take ownership of who you are. State what you believe, what you think, and what you would do, with confidence. Expressing your ideas helps your audience get to know you. A self-assured approach can be very refreshing and will help you stand out among those who opt for a more generic presentation. If they don’t hire you because they don’t like your ideas, you probably wouldn’t want to work there anyway.
Right now, companies are hiring. Yes, during this pandemic. Business is still going on. If you’re in career transition or you’ve decided you want to make a change, be prepared to stand out. Be yourself.
Sandy Johnson is an ICF certified coach and career strategist at Feldman Daxon Partners. She supports professionals who want to advance their careers in the direction of their choosing.
- On May 7, 2020