I talked about standing out a bit in my blog on resume writing, but this will be an element in the book-in-progress, so I thought I’d take another, more detailed whack at it.
Whether you’re networking somewhere or laying out your work history in a resume, you need to be able to talk about your differences, your highlights. This is all about “playing to your strengths.”
These are the accomplishments that can be measured: grade point average (this one has limited shelf life >1 year after college), sales made, customers brought in, money/time saved, documents created, and anything else you can count.
What sorts of recognition have you received over the course of your career? Are those awards relevant to the job you’re pursuing? Have you been recognized by managers? Peers? Subordinates? Members of the community?
While you were at a job, did you create a process that improved the operation? Improved efficiency? Reduced fraud (are there numbers attached)? Did you create a recognition program? Did you eliminate processes or paperwork?
Have you helped develop large documents or projects that had a huge impact on your organization? Have you helped write policies or training programs? Have you worked on products that got a lot of attention outside your organization? Did you work on “conversation starting” or “paradigm shifting” documents?
Have you worked for high-visibility organizations or individuals? Have you worked in environments with high traffic, high prestige, or high name recognition? Have you worked for nonprofit organizations related to the industry you’re trying to enter?
Sometimes we’re known by our workplace “war wounds.” Did you get your organization caught up on their payments? Do you work in a high-hazard workplace? Have you helped a company work through a massive layoff? Have you saved lives as a direct result of your work? Have you rebuilt a business after a hurricane? Did you help build an organization in a high-crime or economically depressed area?
All of these topics offer opportunities for you to stand out to a prospective employer or customer. These are the sorts of factoids that you need to include as part of your marketing materials or networking talking points. The point isn’t to brag, though it does require you to share your accomplishments, especially if someone asks, “So what do you do?” or “What have you done?” Accomplishments and unique situations are more interesting than job descriptions. Stand out–in a good way!