Job Seekers: Are You Brave Enough to be Deliberately Different?
Mark Babbitt is a father of five, a grandfather of two… and CEO and Founder of YouTern, named by Mashable as a “Top 5 Online Community for Starting Your Career” and by Forbes in both 2012 and 2013 as a “Top Website for Your Career”.
What does it mean to be deliberately different? And how does this mindset impact today’s job search?

“I’m following all the great advice. I’m working my butt off. I have a squeaky clean personal brand. Yet no job offers. Why? Why can’t I even get an interview?”

Sound familiar? Ever heard yourself saying something similar?

Perhaps that is because of your application and resume – and perhaps your online presence and personal brand – looks and feels just like everyone else’s. In a competitive job market, this is a common problem or job seekers. There is a quick fix, though; there is one way to stand out among hundreds of applicants:

You must be brave enough… to be different.

By “different” I don’t mean dye your hair orange and wear clown shoes to an interview. I mean be unique, in a professional way that makes people look at you and go, “Damn, I don’t know much about her… but she sure doesn’t lack confidence.” Or in a way that makes others think, “Give him credit, he got up there and did it.”

For example, check out this video.

Think that (very brave) guy will have any trouble with job offers after graduation? No. Why? Because we respect the brave. And we crave different.

So, what can you do to establish yourself as brave? As different? To present a truly unique value proposition to a prospective employer? Here are some thoughts:

Be Brave Enough to Be Passionate

The display of sincere, mission-driven passion is contagiously attractive. It’s more than the generic descriptions included on almost every resume (“a passionate leader”) without substantiation. Or the Tom-Cruise-jumping-on-Oprah’s-couch variety. The passion I’m looking for is where it is obvious you feel strongly about your career path and won’t let anything stop you.

Most everyone is reserved, even introverted. It takes courage to let ourr passions be known, observed and even measured by success or failure. That kind of person gets noticed – and hired – first.

Be Brave Enough to Hear “No”

Everyone else is going to repeatedly follow this process, in this order:

  • Apply for jobs online
  • Wait for a call
  • Never get a call
  • Never follow-up
The display of sincere, mission-driven passion is contagiously attractive
Embrace rejection as a learning process. Accept failure at that moment as a temporary setback. Passionately, persistently follow-up on every opportunity you know is right for you. Be a stalker, if need be. Not the creepy, restraining-order-required variety. But the “I’m seeing him everywhere on social media and at networking events” kind that gets you noticed and referred.

Your courageous nature will enable you to handle the “no” answers. And the “yes” answer that eventually comes is well worth the temporary beat-downs. And you MUST follow up, every time.

Be Brave Enough to Say “No”

In my case, there have been two instances – totaling about six years of my professional life – where I wish I was brave enough to say no. In both cases, the culture sucked; the leadership had no direction; the mission was focused on making money rather than building a solid product or relationships. In both cases, however, the money offered was amazing. I rationalized the decision, so I could make that money.

I simply wasn’t brave enough to say “No.” Or rather, “Hell No!”

Throughout your career, there will be times when you need to be brave enough – confident enough – to say “No, thank you. This isn’t the right opportunity for me right now.”

Be Brave Enough to Ask, Listen and Learn

Almost every member of the job seeking club is afraid of one thing: looking stupid. Their egos can’t handle not knowing something critical. Their sense of self can’t deal with being wrong. Those guys do not get hired. Don’t be that guy. Be different.

On your way to absorbing every piece of knowledge, your brain can hold, ask a million questions – then listen carefully to the answers. During networking events, informational interviews and mentoring sessions be a sponge; absorb every keyword, technique and tool to better yourself and your career.

Yes, once in a while you will look stupid. You just have to be brave enough to take that chance.

Be Brave Enough to Be Yourself

Rather than get lost in sameness, take a different approach. Seek out – from mentors, colleagues and advisors – what makes you stand out. What are you really, really good at? What do you do that makes people smile? Or earns their immediate respect? What is your unique and marketable value proposition?

It takes a brave person to stop hanging onto the “detail oriented”, “great team player” and “hard worker” clichés on their resume and LinkedIn profiles as differentiators. It takes courage to accept that our personalities, experience and personal missions aren’t a match for every organization – and to be fine with that.

We must be brave enough to identify, approach and pitch the buyers of the “different” we’re selling.

Ultimately, being brave isn’t so difficult. Forget what you’ve learned – and tried – so far. Start new; knowing that nothing is off limits. Display that passion. At every opportunity, learn and adapt.

Most important, be brave enough to be deliberately different.

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