There are more people out there today competing for scarce jobs; people competing for careers are more educated and the urgency to be successful is huge with the severe economic pressures facing everyone.
To win a job in this type of environment requires that you be the best at what you choose to do; that you be the topic of conversation; that you and only you deliver unique results that matter.
These 8 proven and practical actions will enable you to be unmatched in the crowd of people hungry for success in their career and you will handily beat the competition for the jobs you seek.
1. Be visible to others
If you’re not noticed, how can you be judged among your peers? Recognition for achieving results can only come when the career decision makers are aware of what you are doing and the value you are creating.
Manage your activity with this in mind. Don’t force it — like ‘Hey! Look at me!’ — but ensure that people know you and are able to compare you to your colleagues.
This will also get you top of the list of high potential people who should be given greater opportunities to prove their worth.
2. Be a niche player
Try and be a player in a strategic area where the need is greatest as opposed to trying to be a generalist who aspires to be all things to all people — you need to be focussed.
For example if your organization is suffering from the lack of marketing skills to differentiate itself from competitors (and you are a competent marketer), focus your brand building efforts there.
The people who win jobs are recognized as individuals who provide the unique leadership required to achieve strategic success. They focus their energy and use their competencies in the specific areas that will deliver superlative performance for their organization.
3. Be different than everyone around you
It always amazes me that everyone wants to copy what works for others.
When confronted with a problem to solve, it seems a natural tendency to consult best practices and employ the tactics and game plan that others have successfully implemented.
Whereas benchmarking what others do may result in improvements, it will never give you a strategic advantage over your competitors.
Successful job winners don’t copy; they set the standard that others aspire to achieve. And they do it by being different in some meaningful way that resonates with their audience.
4. Keep your promises
A simple thing really, but one that so often is missing in action when it comes to peoples’ integrity. It shouldn’t be an advantage to someone but it is; many are great with the words and rhetoric but fall short on the action and results.
Someone who has a strong brand around doing what they say will surpass those who rely on words alone to set them apart.
Winners don’t just aspire, they do.
5. Forget your degree
The truth is, the consistent job winners don’t come from being the most well educated; there are too many people that are likely to have degrees and marks better than yours. Furthermore academic credentials are not a reliable predictor of success.
In the real world success comes from achieving results faster than others — from being more nimble than the crowd.
Being the best at winning jobs is achieved by getting stuff done better than anyone else, not by outthinking them. You DO need a good knowledge foundation to even play the career game, but it’s the actions you take that make a difference.
6. Go beyond what is asked of you
Most of my career competitors did the minimum amount to meet the given objective.
My view was always to meet the minimum expectation and look for an opportunity to go beyond it; to create work that was more original and insightful than what others did. Sure, it took extra time to do it, but it was worth it in the long run.
Look for opportunities to:
- make your work broader and richer than expected by engaging more experts and opinion leaders in your analysis.
- provide a greater level of detail in your reports. Don’t just skim the surface; do a ‘deep dive’ into your material and provide the granularity your readers don’t expect.
- package your work differently than what others do; make your work compelling for your audience to study.
The required minimum satisfies expectations; going beyond what is asked of you will attract attention and make you unmatchable among your competitors
7. Give ‘em what they don’t expect
Most people approach a problem they have been asked to solve in the same way. They do a SWOT analysis, set a goal and then develop a list of objectives to achieve it. This process is the pedantic way that your competitors will generally use to problem solve. It’s predictable and it’s boring.
Being the best person for a job opportunity requires breaking away from the way everyone else approaches a challenge and doing it in a way that surprises people.
If you can surprise people, they will remember you and what you’ve done
Some simple ways of coming at this:
- ask someone who is affected by the problem how THEY would solve it. People closest to the problem often don’t get invited to help solve it; those looking in are surprised when they are.
- abbreviate the formal analysis; get to a solution fast, implement it and tweak it on the run. Spending most of your time to figure out how to implement a solution is almost never done; when you do you just might attract a “WOW!”
- go in the opposite direction implied by the traditional problem solving approach. Doing a 180 on how a problem is typically addressed is often a great inertia breaker and will attract attention.
8. Change the playing field
It’s all about context — the ‘bigger picture’ — and most people don’t think this way.
Push the narrative to a higher level than the issue on the table. For example, rather give an opinion on civic leadership ethics, raise the level of the conversation to discuss civic leadership accountability — a broader topic which includes ethics.
I am constantly asked my opinion, for example, on specific advertising campaigns, and personal brands, and I refuse to comment until I clearly understand the strategy that each intends to fulfil.
Unless you have strategic context, your views are merely personal biases and add little strategic value to the issues at hand
The job winners avoid getting drawn into a debate on a narrow topic; they create a more holistic frame of reference and go there to present their views.
They don’t conform; they don’t comply; they don’t rely on their schooling and they don’t copy what others do.
They look for niche opportunities and rely on ‘doing it’ to achieve results that others are incapable of delivering.