If competitors for a job you want can do everything you can do, what’s your career advantage? How do you differentiate yourself? When everything else is equal, it basically comes down to motivation, attitude and approach.
There’s no such thing as a “perfect” candidate. All you can do is prepare for the opportunities that come your way. Some personal assets outside your direct function may set you apart from the pack, and provide you with that “something special”. Here are some tips to consider:
- Engage and involve others – The more people you bring into your circle of influence, the greater your impact. Whether through mentoring others, being mentored by coaches or providing support to others, your career is dependent upon positioning you for success. Asking for help is a sign or strength, not weakness. The opposite is also true: Pushing help away moves you outside their circle of influence.
- Support the efforts of others – Benjamin Franklin had a favorite saying, “If you want to make a friend, let them help you”. When you voluntarily help someone else, they usually want to reciprocate. Look at it as an investment that provides dividends over time. You never know when you may need their help or they will need yours. Develop those kinds of relationships multiple times and you have a network of mutual support members.
- Never rest on your laurels. Very few things of substance come easily. Usually it takes hard work, time, the right strategy and a lot of persistence. Sometimes, the “winner” is the person who outlasts all others, and makes sure the goal is reached through persistence. Sometimes that means putting in more time and effort than others. The corollary to “the early bird gets the worm” is “whoever sticks it out to the end usually will come out ahead”.
- Focus on the long term. When problem solving an issue, ask yourself two questions: First, what’s the best outcome you can hope for, and second, how much time is available? Why? The amount of time you have available will determine the strategy you use and therefore the degree of success. Strategies will change with the amount of time available. Quick decisions may not be the best decision, but if you have time on your side, longer-term strategies can provide you with the best alternative result
- Fit into the culture. Most people either don’t get the job or aren’t successful on the job because they don’t fit in. That could be good or bad news. Good news in that you turn down a job because your smart enough to sense you’ll be an outlier. Bad news if you take the job, not because it’s right for you, but because it has the right title or higher pay. Finding the right job with the right fit will do more to advance your career than big bonuses or a company car.
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