How to Stand Out in the Job Search (and Have a Unique Career)

career advice

Standing out in today’s job market is harder than ever.

For any given role, chances are someone more experienced, educated, and overall more qualified is also applying.

And unless you are highly specialized, and your skill speaks for itself (i.e. lawyer, doctor, plumber), you need a story that separates you from the competition.

This is what companies like Apple or Nike do, and it’s what job seekers need to do as well.

The Problem

Most people walk into the job search without a clear understanding of their past work experience, or their future career plans.

It's crucial to have this clarity because it will help you with the following:

  • What’s the next job you should pursue
  • What industry you should target
  • Set yourself apart from the competition
  • Improve how you interview

To solve this problem, we’ll identify your Unique Career Brand (UCB).

How to find your Unique Career Brand (UCB)

Your Unique Career Brand (UCB) is a combination of your past experience, interests, and future aspirations.

I break it down into three parts: Theme, Value, Reason

Theme (of your past experience)

For many people, their past work experience can seem like a random constellation of unrelated jobs.

In my case, I worked as a substitute teacher, event coordinator, and medical scribe.

This might seem random, but when I interviewed for my first remote job as a customer support agent in the health & wellness space, I crafted a story highlighting my passion for helping others and my interest in health.

Here’s how to do this:

Identify a common thread in your work experience that illustrates why you're the perfect fit for the role you're applying for.

This could be something that you did regardless of the job title. It could be writing, talking to customers, or mentoring your coworkers.

For example, if you were a waiter and now you’re trying to be a customer support agent, you’ll highlight the customer service aspects of your past work.

If you're trying to land a job in sales, you'll highlight the sales aspect of your server job, like upselling customers on their orders to increase profits.

Value (that you bring)

The value you bring can be best illustrated by highlighting past accomplishments.

Think of anything that had a measurable outcome or something that you were complimented on by a colleague.

Brainstorm a list of 5-10 accomplishments.

Maybe you increased retention as a customer success manager, maybe you grew your company’s social media accounts, or maybe your boss complimented you on how you ran a project.

These accomplishments can be used as stories you’ll tell in your interview, can be incorporated into your LinkedIn headline and about section, and should also be highlighted in your resume.

Reason (for applying)

Employers want to feel like this isn’t just another job. Even if you’re applying to a customer support role, tie some aspect of it to a longer-term goal (1-3 years).

Maybe it’s just the industry that the job is in:

  • ”I like that this role is in the healthcare industry which is where I want to be long-term.”
  • “I know I want to work in some aspect of customer experience, and I believe this role would help me develop the skills and experience I need.”

When I was applying to customer support operations roles, I talked about how I started in customer support and have been learning project management on the side.

If I was applying to a marketing role, I would mention how I started Find Fulfilling Work, and the skills I learned from this experience.

You'll mention this when you conclude your answer to "Tell me about yourself" by highlighting why you applied for this specific role in the first place.

Your reason can also be highlighted in the About section of your LinkedIn profile.

One last thing to note is that you may need to adapt your Unique Career Brand depending on the job you're interviewing for.

It will constantly evolve and need to be updated for each interview to ensure you're making a genuine connection with the interviewer and increasing your chances of moving forward in the hiring process.

Craft a Unique Career Brand, and you'll make a lasting impression on the interviewer and stand out from the competition.

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