Standing Out vs. Fitting In

I think the fear of standing out keeps a lot of people from pursuing opportunities that they know are a *perfect* fit for them. They really want to be more gutsy with their job search strategy, but they’re held back by fears of looking foolish, appearing too aggressive or looking like they don’t know what they’re doing. Oh, and probably the fear of rejection too.

When I ask a client – “Have you thought about what companies/organizations you’d like to work for?” They usually have an answer. They’ll give me the name of a couple of companies, and then a couple of reasons about why they haven’t pursued any opportunities with the firm – e.g. no openings, don’t know where they’d fit, can’t get past the on-line application system, etc.

I think they also fear standing out. There are plenty of strategies one can use to effectively market them into a position. But, you’ll have to do a bit more than just send in your resume and keep your fingers crossed. You’ll have to be willing to stand out!! Standing out can feel like you’re a bit exposed, sure, but it’s what separates good opportunities from great opportunities.

If you’re hesitant to stand out, you’re denying yourself the opportunity to get noticed. Getting noticed is what’s today’s job climate is about. Standing out has a lot of negative connotations… always being the life of the party, loud and bigger-than-life, always being “on your game”, selling yourself or shamelessly marketing yourself.

Standing out can also be low-key, brutally authentic and 100% warm and fuzzy. You can stand out by having a clear and compelling personal brand. Not one that looks like everyone else’s, but one that is uniquely yours. What creates a compelling personal brand is embracing all that is unique about your (including your experience, skills and experience) and effectively communicating it to others. Not just in the words that you use, but how you “present” yourself to others – through your personality, your passions and your energy. Awareness of how others perceive you, awareness of your strengths, clearly defined experience, You talk about yourself in a way that is humble, yet clear about the strengths and experience you bring to the table. This means that you’re clear about what you do well and you’ve done your research on where those skills fit into organizations that interest you.

Stand out. You can survive the discomfort.