The Paradox of the Comfort of Crowds

An interesting dynamic often occurs with new clients. They may sign on, initially because their current job search isn’t working. They have a traditional resume, one that lists, in chronological order, the responsibilities of the positions they’ve held over the years. They may have posted this resume on job boards and used it in applying for positions of interest they’ve come across on the boards or company websites. They’ve waited for someone to contact them. And they’ve waited some more.

Naturally, they get discouraged. They reach out. They want help; they can’t do this on their own. We show them something different: A framework where they differentiate themselves from everyone else. We help them write a new resume, one that emphasizes their accomplishments over their responsibilities. We coach them how to articulate their value verbally, virtually and in writing. We help them build their brand. We coach them on how to network effectively, hold strategic conversations with key people in their field and create relationships with decision makers.

They get very excited. This is different. It will work. After all, the process they’ve been following hasn’t produced results; it’s been a black hole.

So, they begin anew with great energy. They have a brand new resume that shows how their brand works; and a LinkedIn profile that reflects their brand. This is really different. They’re really gonna stand out.

They reach out to people on LinkedIn; they join Groups; they follow companies. They post their new resume on the job boards, replacing their old one. They send it in when they apply to positions posted on company websites. They wait for someone to contact them.

They may get contacted by recruiters who tell them that they need a resume that shows their responsibilities from every company they ever worked for, in chronological order. They come back as ask for a new resume that looks much like their old one. They’re concerned that they don’t look like everyone else.

I had a recent conversation with a recruiter. I asked her how she saw the year shaping up for new hiring. Her response was that it will be a great year for people who can articulate and demonstrate their value to prospective employers. Those who rely solely on skill sets, not so much. The interesting thing is, with published positions — those posted online, either on job boards or company websites — skills are how HR people determine candidates’ qualifications. Decision makers, on the other hand, focus more on value.

If you’re in a job search and you’re relying solely on your skills you blend in with the crowd. Like the gunslingers of the Old West, there will always be someone younger, faster and cheaper. It may feel safe in the crowd, but you don’t get noticed.

Value isn’t necessarily related to tenure or budgets. Value relates to accomplishments rather than responsibilities. It appeals to the people who care; the people who make the decision whether to hire or not. Skills may get you in the door for an interview, but it’s your value that will get you hired.

Value stands out; it’s what makes you unique; it becomes your brand. Skill are necessary, but not sufficient. They don’t trump value.

So over to you…do you feel safe by running with the crowd, by blending in with everyone else? Are you indistinguishable from others?

Or do you take the risk and stand out? Can you articulate and demonstrate your value? Can you stand out from the crowd?

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