How to Rise Above the Competition
Tactics for executive job seekers on how to rise above the nation’s growing talent pool.
By Scott Ginsberg
Job stability is wavering.
Will you panic or prosper?
If you want to accomplish the latter, remember this three-word philosophy: Anonymity is bankruptcy.
That’s why we’re going to explore three tactics for elevating your visibility:
- Exert your distinctiveness.
- Prepare to be vulnerable.
- Be smart, not a smarty-pants.
When executed consistently, these practices will capture the attention of potential employers, thus contributing to a greater awareness of the value you bring to the company.
1. Exert your distinctiveness.
As an executive, the net worth of your human capital is a function of your expertise. So, the three questions you need to ask yourself are:
- What are you known for knowing?
- Who is already attracted to you and sees you as a resource?
- What have you done, specifically – in the last 24 hours – to amplify that expertise within your company?
Once you’ve identified and evaluated your true expertise and inventoried your negotiable personal assets, the next challenge is to assert that distinctiveness in every possible personal-branding touchpoint: questions you ask, answers you give, e-mails you write, meetings you attend and conversations you hold.
The cool part is, asserting your distinctiveness elevates your visibility. Elevating your visibility attracts more responsibility. More responsibly increases the net worth of your human capital. And an increased net worth of human capital compels potential employers and solidifies your job security.
Remember: If your presence makes a difference, your absence will make a different. You want people to start asking where you are when you’re not around. You want to become so invaluable that you become noticeable in your absence. Executives like that get hired and rarely get laid off. What are you known for? What are you known as? And what hard-to-copy capabilities do you possess that position you distinctively, effectively and continuously?
2. Prepare to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability is attractive. Vulnerability is approachable. Vulnerability is strength. Even President Obama – during his first month in office – recently owned up to the media for his poor appointee choice.
“I’ve got to own up to my mistake,” Obama told NBC News. “I’m frustrated with myself, with our team. … I’m here on television saying I screwed up.”
Look, we’re all a bit nervous. And we’re all a bit vulnerable. The danger is when we’re not willing to disclose that vulnerability by practicing radical honesty. So here is my suggestion: Dare to be dumb.
In my workshops and seminars, I challenge people to increase their usage of the phrase “I don’t know.” It cuts down on the pressure to know everything. Plus, pretending like you do know when you don’t cracks your foundation, your integrity.
It’s a falsehood in your personality, and during interviews employers can smell it. Being vulnerable, however, means being secure enough to be who you are, even if who you are is wrong. What’s more, in a sea of gargantuan professional egos, your vulnerability will stand out as a refreshing change. Are you willing to admit your ignorance? Are you someone others can feel dumb in front of?
Remember: When you maintain this attitude of approachability, your employees and your potential employers will respond to (and have more respect for) you. How are you branding your honesty? Are you willing to take the lead with your integrity and become someone others can be vulnerable in front of?
3. Be smart, not a smarty-pants.
Yes, human capital is a function of knowledge. At the same time, there’s a fine line between being smart, and being a smarty-pants.
Here’s the difference: Smart people attract others; smarty-pants people alienate others. Smart people are trusted with greater responsibility; smarty-pants people are avoided.
Next time you attend a department meeting, consider this three-step, unforgettable strategy:
- Bite your tongue. Don’t say anything until the last five minutes of the meeting. That way you can collect you thoughts, clarify your position and speak confidently. By looking around, listening and learning first, your comment will contain its maximum amount of brilliance.
- Come out of nowhere. When the meeting leader says, “Does anybody have any questions?” or “Any final thoughts before we finish?” you raise your hand and say: “I had an observation …” All the people in the room will turn their heads, rotate their chairs and look in the direction of the one person who hasn’t said anything all morning – you.
- Articulate your idea. This is the best part. See, if you only say one thing, it becomes more profound because scarcity creates a perception of value. What’s more, the longer you wait to say something, the more everybody else will want to know what you’re thinking. Ultimately, your calmness, patience and quietude will draw them in. In the words of our mistake-friendly president, “Power grows through prudent use.”
Remember: Let go of the need to prove how smart you are by always adding some super-intelligent comment or asking some super-tricky question. You can still be smart – and be perceived as being smart – without looking like a know-it-all jerk. Are you sharing your knowledge or showcasing it? Are trying to elevate your visibility or be the center of attention?
Look, times are tough – tougher than they’ve been in a long time. But you’re tougher. And I’m confident you’re going to make it out alive!
Challenge: Pick a few of the strategies from this list that work best for you. Customize your visibility plan according to your unique skills and passions. And remember those three crucial words … Anonymity is bankruptcy.
Let me ask ya this: How are you elevating your visibility?
Let me suggest this: For the list called, “30 Ways to become the Most Interesting Person You Know,” send an e-mail to me, and I’ll send you the complimentary list!
Scott Ginsberg, aka “The Nametag Guy,” is the author of nine books, an award-winning blogger and the creator of NametagTV.com. He’s the only person in the world who wears a nametag 24-7 and advises companies on how to leverage approachability into profitability.