How to Stand Out in Your Profession

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.”

Numbers

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.

Awards

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?

Processes

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?

Documents

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?

Customers

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?

Situations

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!

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Directior, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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2 Responses to How to Stand Out in Your Profession

  1. Larry Kunz says:

    Hi, Bart. Your title let me to expect an article about building a reputation, but the article itself seems to be about finding a job. I think there’s a lot of overlap between the two — in fact, if I were to draw a Venn diagram the circles would be nearly identical. Nearly, but maybe not quite exactly.

    With that in mind, let me offer another factor: How much you’ve given back to the profession. Have you been a mentor? A teacher? Have you written an influential blog or a book? Those things might not be strictly related to finding a job (although I’m sure they’re seen as plusses) but they’re definitely a part of standing out in one’s profession. What do you think?

  2. Bart says:

    Good adds, thank you! I’ve got another blog in the queue that addresses reputation building.

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