What Makes YOU Stand Out?

Last Monday I taught a networking workshop to a group of 20-somethings who are members of AmeriCorps Cape Cod. One of the most pressing  concerns expressed: how to make myself stand out from other job applicants.

I put some of them on the spot and pushed them to answer questions like “What do you want to do after AmeriCorps?” and “Why should I hire you?”

I heard typical responses like: I’m a hard worker, team player, have good leadership skills, organized, and detail oriented.

One member yelled out, “I’m fun!” And I believed her.

I looked at the list we created and responded back to the faces in front of me. “This is what the masses say. What makes YOU stand out?”

I offered them two exercises:

  • First, write a list of what makes them special, no matter how silly it felt.
  • Then I had them pair up. The partner offered a view on what makes the other person special.

I then asked if anyone wanted to share what came up. This time I heard:

  • I’m a puppeteer
  • I’m really good with old people, they like me
  • My experience with AmeriCorps taught me how to be both a leader and a team member
  • I adapt easily to my environment, as an AmeriCorps member I’ve had to sleep on crowded floors with 13 other people.

Entertaining stories and interesting personal anecdotes that say a lot about a person. I probed deeper about the puppeteer and asked “What kind of characteristics do you think a puppeteer has?”

Answers were quick and included: Creative, fun, good with kids, good presentation skills, good behind the scenes, fun to be around.

Doesn’t that say a lot about how you might be different. All too often people are quick to say what they think they should say, instead of what really matters and what makes them stand out.

What makes me stand out: Ability to ask probing questions; make hard to understand information easy to digest; experiential – I make you do things; compassionate & relatable – I don’t teach anything I haven’t personally experienced and studied.

The next time you find yourself at an event or engaged in a conversation where you need to tell folks how you stand out, give it some thought in advance. It’s you and your personality that make you special. Share it!

What makes you stand out from your peers, competitors or the “crowd”?

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  • http://www.workconsciously.com Chris Edgar

    That was refreshing to me to hear, when you said that you don’t teach anything outside your own personal experience — that’s a goal that I strive for as well. I get the sense that, when a teacher is speaking from their own experience, as opposed to what they’ve read out of a book, it can be felt. It’s much like when someone says what they genuinely want, as opposed to what they think they should want, whether in their career or somewhere else.

  • http://staceyshipman.com Stacey Shipman

    Chris – thanks for your comment. I feel no comfort in teaching something I haven’t experienced. I connect more favorably with folks when I share “real” experiences. That definitely feels good to me.

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