(Part 2 of 4 in the Personal Brand Equity series)
You need to stand out. As a product, you are more likely to be chosen the more you stand out. If you blend in with the rest of the products, there is nothing that differentiates you from the competition and your chances of being chosen dwindle down between slim and none. Think about being in a grocery store. You’re in the soda section and you’ve decided to try something new. What kind of features are you going to be looking for? A certain flavor? Maybe you will try to pick out a soda that looks like it tastes like the last one you tried. What about diet sodas? Maybe you will filter out all the regular sodas and only focus on the ones with “Diet” on the label. And what if you’re open to anything and everything? You might pick the next soda you drink based a flashy label or a differentiating feature.
Part 2 of this Personal Brand Equity is all about the necessity of standing out when applying for a job. This breaks down into 2 different parts. The first part is the application process. What are you going to do when applying for a job that will make you stand out enough to be contacted for an interview? The second part is the interview process. Now that you have actually been contacted for an interview, what can you say and do in the interview that will make you stand out enough to actually be offered a job.
There is one important thing you need to keep in mind when reading this and actually start applying some of these suggestions to your own job search: sometimes there is a better product out there than the one you’re selling (and sometimes might be an understatement). You may play your cards right from application process to the interview process–you might even be everything that your prospective company is looking for–yet, in the end, the company decides to go with someone else. Don’t let this get you down. There will always be those instances where you are everything the company is looking for, yet they decide to go with the candidate that has one more year of experience or one more skill-set than you that will be valuable to the company. In sales, rejection is the norm and if you spend your time focusing on the rejection instead of celebrating each victory, you aren’t going to last long as a salesperson. The same can be said when looking for a job. There will be rejection, but you must focus on the positive and persevere through the negative in order to survive.
Let’s talk about the standing out in the application process. In order to do this, let’s go back to the grocery store (I’m liking this analogy). Put yourself in the customer’s position (customer = hiring manager/recruiter). Unless you find a discounted item, you will never buy a product that you are not looking for. The same is true when a hiring manager recruits candidates. If the position calls for a candidate with an accounting degree and 10 years of experience, you’re not even going to be considered if you just graduated with a degree in kinesiology. And, just like it’s tougher to sell the damaged products, you might stand out (in a bad way) if your GPA is sub-par or you’ve previously been fired.
If I’m describing your situation–if you’re product is damaged–it’s not the end of the world. I must warn you–DO NOT LIE. Whether your GPA stinks or you’ve been fired or whatever the case, don’t embellish the truth. The truth will always be uncovered and then you will be in a terrible situation. Understand that your job search is going to be more difficult and you might have to settle and make sacrifices in order to find a job. No matter what job you accept, work your tail off. Consider that job opportunity a second chance to show your hard work and become a more valuable candidate.
Back to the grocery store. A product is only as good as its label (label = application). If a product’s label is confuses the customer as to what the product actually does, the customer will move on to the next product. In terms of your job search, it is crucial that the value you can add to the company is clear and supported with evidence (when you can). This next idea is very important to understand: unlike the products in the grocery store that stay constant and don’t change to accommodate the customer, you can change to accommodate the hiring manager. This might be the most important idea in this entire series. Another way to think about it is like this–the customer goes to the product in the grocery store, but it is the candidate that goes to the hiring manager when searching for a job.
This might seem very obvious, but the implications of this idea are enormous. When you find a job that you qualify for, it is expected that you tailor your resume, cover letter, and everything else to the description of that specific job opening. Don’t create one version that you attach to every job application. In today’s economic climate, you don’t have the flexibility to be lazy when it comes to your resume, cover letter, and application in general. When you apply for a job opening, it is crucial that you thoroughly analyze the “product” the hiring manager is looking for and then thoroughly demonstrate in your application how you are the product that best fits what the hiring manager is looking for.
Let’s take it one step further. As a product, your chances of being chosen are high when you match the needs of the customer. Your chances of being chosen are even higher when differentiate yourself from the other products being considered. When it comes to your application, differentiation can be achieved in a lot of different ways. In future blog posts, I plan on discussing ways you can format your resume and cover letter to differentiate your application from the rest of the job applicants. But for now, your best chance to stand out from the other candidates is to demonstrate how you match the needs of the hiring manager and to differentiate yourself from the other candidates that match the needs of the hiring manager.
In terms of standing out in the interview, it’s the same song, different verse. I’ll make this short and sweet. From the time you apply for a job opening to the actual job offer, it is your responsibility to demonstrate to the hiring manager how you are the perfect candidate for the position. When thinking about interviews there are two mentalities candidates tend to take. The first mentality is that the interview is all about the candidate, their experience, and their skill-sets. The second mentality is that the interview is all about the position, the qualifications, and the responsibilities entailed. I propose that the correct mentality to take in the interview is a combination of the two. Your job is to show that you are the best person for the job because of your experience and skill-sets, while demonstrating how you can apply your experience and skill-sets to the responsibilities entailed in the job description.
That just about covers part 2 of the Personal Brand Equity series. Thank you so much for reading my blog post. If you missed part 1, you can click here. Part 3 will be uploaded in the next few days, so stay on the look out. I always love to hear what y’all think about my blog posts, so feel free to leave a comment telling me what you think. Lastly, if you liked this blog post, I’d encourage you to check out my other blog sites. Click here to explore my blogs.
Good luck standing out.