With 7 billion people in the world, it can sometimes be a little hard to stand out. I suppose you can go Yao Ming’s route and literally “stand out” but for many of us that ship has sailed. In life, we want to stand out but more relevantly, in the workplace and in the search for a workplace, we need to stand out.
The statistics are often debated but somewhere around 6.7% of the word has a college degree. ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/19/percent-of-world-with-col_n_581807.html ) If you live in the United States, I believe the figure is around 26%. Now, for the sake of argument let us assume that 5% of that 26% hold the same degree as you and of that 5%, 1% are directly competing with you for a job. Let us assume that the figure you arrive at is 800,000 people. Daunting isn’t it? Well, there are two things we can do. The first is to give up mentally and assume that it’s all luck. The second is to consider the following serious tips that I have received from different professionals including my professors, friends, colleagues and mentors as well as Nicole, the founder of www.mscareergirl.com who is keeping me busy as the events coordinator.
1. YOUR RESUME AND COVER LETTER must be up to par, at least. Thanks to Nicole, my brother and my brother’s friend Jon, I know what a good cover letter and resume consist of: accuracy, conciseness and personality. What is personality? It is the professional demeanor that is reflected when you write. There are a plethora of resume resources on the internet. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEM. Most of them are free anyway. If you live in the Chicago area, you definitely want to check these guys out: http://betterresumes.com/locations.html Also, ask your HR and management pals to look at your resume. They are the ones who do the hiring so they will see things differently and different is good.
2. YOUR INTERVIEW SKILLS must be relentless. Luckily for me, I have always had the gift of gab so shyness in an interview is not my problem. However, I have found that practice is the problem. I think having a good friend or family member do some research about the company and ask you questions as if you were in a real interview is a good way to practice. Some people even suggest doing interviews for jobs you will NEVER take, as another way to practice. Above all, asking people you have interviewed with about how you can improve is best. Sure, it’s awkward to go crawling back to the people who rejected you but it’s worth it to know what the “other side” is thinking of you in an interview.
3. YOUR STORY. This is the most important one. One may think that “oh, there is nothing special about me” but you simply have to build on your strengths. There is one or two things that you have done in school or in a job or as an athlete or blogger that you can be proud of and should be proud of. Your story is what really separates you from “the others.” I will say being in America as an international student who has always been a foreigner seems to work for me. It works that I graduated high school early, that I came up with “Drake Haiti Relief” on my university campus, that I speak a few languages and that I am willing to blow my own trumpet.
None of the above things are anything special in the sense that none of them are novel. However, when I explain my story to people I show them how all of the mentioned examples give me a global perspective on the marketplace, show leadership in small things which show a willingness to do the small things. I tell them living as a nomad has always made it easy for me to learn quickly and to connect with people easily in order to survive and thrive in a place. What’s the point? It’s my story and I tell it like it’s the best story ever.
I believe too that you can stand out and make your “story better” by learning from other people. So, especially for all you social media and marketing junkies, here’s a FREE event that you might want to check out if you’re in the Chicago area on October 12th: Womma’s “Wine Wednesday” http://womma.org/events/category/wine-wednesday/and register here: http://chicagowinewed.eventbrite.com/ Womma is the leading voice for ethical and effective Word of Mouth and Social Media Marketing.
As always, I would love to know your feedback. What’s your story? What makes you different? What makes any of us stand out to employers and what should we do to stand out more?