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  • Writer's pictureBetsy Kent


What if I told you that you don’t need to spend time creating a resume or a linkedin profile that shows a unique set of skills to distinguish yourself from everyone else?

What if you don’t have to prove that you are better than everyone else who has the same set of skills as you do?

The common, and mistaken, assumption that you have to distinguish yourself leads job seekers to endlessly tweak their resumes and LI profiles, or learn new skills, or worse, assume that they can’t distinguish themselves from the crowd and so they stay stuck where they are.

So, the question is: How DO you stand out from the crowd?

Well, first you have to know that employers are people and people base their perception of you based on the experience they have with you, not the fancy words on your resume, LI profile or cover letter.

Just like how people recommend restaurants after they have eaten there based on how great the food and service actually are, not on how great the advertising says it is.

This means that the most important factor in how potential employers perceive you and whether they think you're a good fit is how you interact with them or with the people whose opinions they trust.

And that, my friends, leads to the inescapable conclusion that you actually have to interact with them.

Think about it - no one ever got hired solely on the basis of their resume. The employer needs to interact with you before a decision can be made. That is why there is an interview process that involves speaking to a variety of people in the organization and perhaps a work assignment.

But why wait until you get an interview to begin the process of letting them get to know you?

The best way to differentiate yourself in the minds of potential employers is to regularly communicate with them BEFORE (and during) the interview process.

In fact the way to GET the interview in the first place is to have interacted with them in the past and to have continued to keep in touch.

That is what makes you different from everyone else in the crowd who just sends in their resumes when a job is posted and keeps their fingers crossed!

Interacting includes connecting with:

  1. personal contacts who work at the companies you want to work at

  2. people who work at those companies that you don’t yet know

  3. people who know the people who work at those companies

Clearly you need a different approach to interact with each of these groups, but no matter how you do it, you need to show, not just tell, these people that you can do the job.

If you can give them a personal taste of who you are and what working with you would look like and show them you can do the work that they need to be done, then they won’t care that there are a million other people who can do the work as well. They will know YOU and they only want to hire one person, so if you are a good fit, why would they waste time and resources to continue their search?

It’s like this common scenario: if you are searching for a great salad dressing, and you check out the salad dressing aisle in the grocery store, there will be a zillion options that all look pretty much the same. BUT - if you go into the grocery store and one brand is giving out sample tastes and you try it and like it, my guess is that you will buy that dressing, even though the other brands are probably pretty similar. Even if another brand does have something about it that might be better, like less sugar, chances are you won’t want to take the chance without trying it first. So you will likely still buy the brand you tasted.

So that leaves you with the question - HOW do I interact with everyone?

Here are quite a few quick ideas for building a relationship with people who can connect / hire you:

  1. Connect on Linkedin with 10 people you don’t yet know at each of your top 5 dream companies. Then comment/share/like all of their posts. Then tell them what you liked about their posts in a LI direct message. Rinse and repeat.

  2. Reach out to all your current connections and let them know what you are doing and what you are planning to do. Keep them posted as you continue your job search.

  3. Post on LI about articles/books/conferences/ideas about your industry.

  4. Create the type of project that a prospective employer would assign you and send it to someone who works there and ask for feedback. For example:

    1. For a tech position try a mockup of a website in the branding style of the company.

    2. For a writing position write an article for their publication, or a short story or whatever is relevant to their needs.

    3. For an events planner, show them your vision and budget for an event you plan for them that will engage their target customers.

  5. Join an industry organization and go to their events and engage with the participants.

  6. Volunteer at a company where the employees and/or the other volunteers are likely in your industry. Cultivate relationships with them.

  7. Create your own Mastermind and invite some “experts” to discuss a challenge in the industry/company. Then continue to engage with them on a variety of topics.

The Googles will give you many more ideas. But, not to belabor my point, since you are reading this and interacting with me, my guess is that you will consider my ideas first, even though googling it would give you more, different and maybe even better ideas.

See what I did there?

You can do it too.

You don’t have to have different or better or more unique skills than everyone else. You just have to be the one that a prospective employer already knows likes and trusts.

And, since they don’t have any superpowers, the only way to do that is to interact with them.

The more proactive you are, the more you will stand out as the person to consider first.

Give it a try!

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