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The Two Best ways to Stand Out



An article in Entrepreneur caught my attention; it discussed about how to "win" when you meet others. It's intended for people to present well and sell themselves or a product. It directly applies to an interview, but not in the way you think.

The author, David Meltzer emphasizes becoming an equal and then differentiating yourself. There are some solid points, but I felt his strongest was at the end:

"You must remember to come into a situation humble and make yourself equal first, then get to work on differentiating yourself."

I love two out of three:

  • Be Humble

  • Be Different

Humbleness is a Superpower

Being humble doesn't be being a doormat; it means walking in excited to learn, excited to share and grateful to spend time with another person.

Being Humble means focusing on explaining how your knowledge and experience can help. Being proud of what you've accomplished is great. Showing how it could help is great. Using your skills and knowledge egotistically is the opposite of humble.

In fact, providing ideas and assistance to others, isn't just humble - it demonstrates your strength. Yes, your humbleness can be a superpower.

Different is required

Being different means you are not only competent, but offer views and ideas the other person may not have considered. This requires some work on your part.

You have to really listen and learn in detail about the role, the company and the person you're meeting. Listen carefully: What are they sharing and how does it apply to you, your skills and experience?

Once you've validated what they've shared, this is where you can show your difference.

  • Share examples where you dealt with similar situations, but took a different approach.

  • Offer approaches that may not be exactly similar, but demonstrate the processes you would follow to address the challenges of the role.

  • Intently listen and ask LOTS of questions.

My only debate is semantics

I really liked the article, but would substitute the word "Aligned" with "Equal". In interviews you will meet with people at a higher level than you and smarter people than you. You will not be equal in that sense.

But you have to be aligned. Working with others mean that you agree to a common view to address the challenges you share. Alignment is universal and has to be there at every level, otherwise you and the team will fail.

Summary and Coaching Questions

These sound like Interview 101 ideas, but they're not. These two ideas go beyond just interviewing. They apply to building relationship (both business and personal), leadership and even recruiting. Who wouldn't want to team up with a humble person that has a unique viewpoint?

Here are some coaching questions:

  • How can I be more humble when I meet someone for the first time, especially in a business situation?

  • What do I want gain from talking with this person and what do I want to give back?

  • What skills and experiences (both professionally and personally) make me unique?

  • How can I learn to comfortably share them?

Being humble and being different make you a good candidate and an even better person.

I'm a certified Career Coach, long time Silicon Valley Recruiting Leader and lead Job Search, Career Development and Career Success programs at the Wharton Executive MBA Program in San Francisco. I also coach through HireClub.

If you’d like to discuss the ideas in this post or other areas where Coaching might help - I’d love to share. All initial sessions are free and we dive right in. There is never any pressure or push.

My email is mike@mikecoach.com.

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