I know. Baseball season is here and I’m talking about home runs. Hear me out (no pun intended). But this is important.
You will fall behind the competition if you don’t stand out in today’s job search. For example,
You can’t have it both ways. Want to hit a homerun? The effort to stand out means taking a chance you’ll be tagged out.
The idea came from this article on business, but I know it applies to other meaningful concepts. Many of us want to do things we’re comfortable with for success, but doing something that makes us uneasy or takes us out of our comfort zone are usually the best methods to achieve our goals.
Read: 5 Ways to Avoid the Dark Storm of Underemployment
There are things in your job search you haven’t tried yet, conversations you’re unwilling to have, and things you’re doing that are fruitless and should stop. Here are 11 of them:
1) Keeping track of accomplishments.
The question “How do you add value to your work?” can be dumbfounding, but necessary to answer. Interviewers will seek it out in many ways and the way to solve it is to know (and remember) your successes. Performance reviews, emails, meeting minutes, conversations with you and without you complimenting you are critical. Document all of it and know it’s gold throughout your career.
2) Public speaking.
It’s horrific, and sometimes it requires the casting out of demons, but for the sake of imbibing this point, let’s eliminate speeches. Let’s say it’s a panel interview and you have to be direct with five people. If you don’t, you won’t get the job. It’s a little more complicated than casting out demons, but there are many ways to get over the fear.
3) Cutting down distractions significantly.
Few people cut out television completely, but cutting it down could serve you well. A successful job search requires building up your personal brand. Few people take the time to build their brand (a huge mistake!), especially in the beginning stages. You need time, and too many job seekers are mindlessly mesmerized by television. Or social media. Or Tik Tok. You get the drift.
4) Seeking feedback.
I overheard a conversation where one person said their mentor never tells them anything negative. The friend said, “You mean critical?” The answer, “Yes! She knows I don’t like critique!” I can’t imagine having the mentors I had in my life without their constructive feedback.
Another way to look at it is how training is effective. Accreditation is important because of the useful and the response to required feedback. Can you imagine elementary schools with no feedback? Higher education?
5) Persistence through trials.
Finding a job or a career is hard work. If you’re without a job, for most of us the job search is the priority in our lives. If we’re employed and conducting a stealth job search, then our priorities shift to take care of the most urgent need.
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6) Networking without a networking event.
The cliche, everything is networking and networking is everything in job search success. There are everyday conversations with opportunities behind them. If you’re intentional, you won’t need a scary networking event. Then there are social media channels where it’s expected to be social. Stop playing! You’re one conversation away from a breakthrough.
7) Defending your career choices.
Protecting your career choice is not always a negative conversation. Sometimes it clarifies your choices, especially if you’re passionate about it. You don’t always have to defend it with people who are most critical about any choice you make, but some people do care about you (and only you can discern this) and want to know your “why.”
8) Training others.
Training is the new learning, especially with the access to information and tools available to us. Even if it is one-on-one, it is a real lead generator. People are always looking for a knowledgeable person with patience and communication skills to help them learn something new.
9) Asking for compensation.
To accompany #8, ask and expect compensation for your time in a tactful and reasonable way. You’ll find it adds value to your needs and career. To an employer, getting paid for your training, consulting, or coaching shows you’re serious about your career. Sometimes an employer hesitates, thinking you may leave if consulting or coaching takes off. Then again, it may not be their business to know you are getting paid for it or achieving success at it. It is common for people to have side hustles, part-time jobs, or interests outside of work. You have a valuable skill, and people should compensate you for your time.
10) Promoting yourself.
When sharing your accomplishments don’t simply say, “I’m great!” It’s a fact that your accomplishments add credibility, which is more career advancing and personal brand building. Putting these adjectives from you with “I’m…” sends the wrong message. Credibility and specificity carry far more weight to others than any adjective we can put out there ourselves. Promote yourself for the credibility.
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11) Confronting time-consuming complex problems.
Everyone values time, but what about the value to have a chance to solve career-defining issues? Patience and persistence are boosts to your career if you want to impress employers. Document how you address deeply involved projects and leverage them to demonstrate competency.
We expect miracles to take place too often because a method we try requires little effort. Since looking for jobs is inertia-sucking, we loathe the exhaustion to our body, brains, and heart without realizing that progress is needed to succeed. You don’t need to do everything, but relying on comfortable measures invalidates the sweet spot. Go ahead and aim for that home run. You’ll be tagged out at times, your uniform will be filthy, but you’ll be a better base runner.
Originally published on the Jobs2Careers blog! This is an updated version.
About Mark Anthony Dyson
I am the "The Voice of Job Seekers!" I offer compassionate career and job search advice as I hack and re-imagine the job search process. You need to be "the prescription to an employer's job description." You must be solution-oriented and work in positions in companies where you are the remedy. Your job search must be a lifestyle, and your career must be in front of you constantly. You can no longer shed your aspirations at the change seasons. There are strengths you have that need constant use and development. Be sure you sign up to download my E-Book, "421 Modern Job Search Tips 2021!" You can find my career advice and work in media outlets such as Forbes, Inc., Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, Glassdoor, and many other outlets.