Differentiate or You’re Dead

Differentiation is key in job search
Differentiation is key in job search

Differentiate or You’re Dead

For recruiters and employers to choose you, they must see you as being different from your competition. If faced with a group of resumes who all claim to provide the answers to the job post, recruiters and employers will usually just pick someone at random. You don’t want that; you want them to pick you nine times out of 10. So you need to give them a reason to choose you, or at least remember you.

That’s why the instinct to copy others’ online branding is such a bad one; people who do that look like just another face in the crowd, instead of an innovator. Your Online Personal Branding will not succeed unless you find a way to differentiate yourself from the field.

Differentiation is hard because it goes against our natural human tendency to blend into the crowd, to emulate what others do because it’s safe. But for an Online Personal Brand that lets you dominate a market, you must go in the other direction, telling others why you stand out and which unique benefits you can deliver.

The best ways to differentiate yourself:

* Create a new category within your profession. To do this, your expertise or service must truly be different, not just repackaged.
* Choose a leading attribute your competitors are ignoring. For instance, if your target market is notoriously busy, and none of your competitors have built online brands around time savings and meeting deadlines, there’s your differentiator.
* Offer a product or service no one else does.
* Communicate with your audience in a way no one else does. Use humor when everyone else is serious, for example.

A perfect example of differentiation is the late Mary Kay Ash, the doyenne of American cosmetics. With her trademark pink Cadillac and her personal approach to helping women thrive, Mary Kay became something unique: a flamboyant business mogul who used the Golden Rule as her guiding principle. Differentiation requires you to become an expert on your competition – who they are and how they’ve positioned themselves. Learn where they’re weak. Find out which opportunities they’re missing. Then strike hard.

Why Not Just Copy Everybody Else?

Of course, there’s a contingent that wonders, why not just look at who’s most successful and emulate that person? And certainly, there are plenty of business owners who do just that. Whether or not you choose to go that route depends on your goal: Do you want to be just another player in your market, or do you want to lead your market?

If you’re content being just another name, go ahead and copy your competition. But if you want to control your own destiny and drive your market rather than reacting to it, you’ve got to reject the copycat impulse and develop your own branding strategy.

For more info: Click on “Subscribe to Newsletter” and enter your email address at the tops of the page to receive notice of this weekly feature and other new articles. You may also email your Job Search related questions to Mark@MarkMontoya.com

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Check out my Books!

101 Tips Every Job Seeker Should Know
101 Tips Every Job Seeker Should Know

The Ultimate Online Job Seekers eBook
The Ultimate Online Job Seekers eBook

10 Biggest Interview Mistakes
10 Biggest Interview Mistakes

10 Biggest Resume Mistakes
10 Biggest Resume Mistakes

Business:

8 Tips for Hiring a Social Media Expert
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Growing into Greatness: Defining the domain for your Personal Brand.
Growing into Greatness: Defining the domain for your Personal Brand.
80 Ways To Use Twitter As A SMB Owner
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The Keys to Small Business Success
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Building Your Position: Laying the Groundwork of Your Future Marketing Efforts
Building Your Position: Laying the Groundwork of Your Future Marketing Efforts
How to Snuff Your Competition
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10 Ways to Green Your Home Office
10 Ways to Green Your Home Office
Does Your SMB Do These 8 Things?
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Market, Market, Market – The most visible brand wins
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Mark Montoya has been working in personal branding for more than a decade for hundreds of online and offline companies, small businesses and individual service professionals. His focus has been toward improving the way jobseekers find employment on the Internet. He has synthesized his expertise by helping job seekers obtain their ideal choice of employment over the Internet on his sites MyOnlineCareerSpace.com and MyOnlineCareerCoach.com, and through his books 101 Tips Every Job Seeker Should Know and The Ultimate Online Job Search eBook. Learn more at MarkMontoya.com, on Twitter, Digg, or StumbleUpon.

2 thoughts on “Differentiate or You’re Dead”

  1. Do you have a couple of specific good examples where one candidate for a job in a chosen profession has been able to differentiate themselves from their competitors. The Mary Kay example was interesting but a little off target for job search. I would bet you’ve got hundreds of examples.

  2. I wrote a blog that essentially says similar things, but I failed to use the word “differentiation”. It’s some good info I picked up recently at the Harvard Business School on Strategy. I’ve also revised it for my LinkedIn Group : Andy’s Job Hunting Tips.

    Here’s what I wrote there:

    What is a personal work strategy. (This is where to start.)
    A few weeks ago, I wrote up my notes on business strategy based on a class I took at the Harvard Business School. I think the same principles apply to individuals who are seeking to be excellent employees. So I’ve rewritten my notes to apply to individuals, both job seekers and those who are currently employed.

    Your personal strategy, especially if you are a job seeker, requires tradeoffs between providing every type of work you can to a wide audience, and making more tightly focused choices. If you define what you can do too broadly, you run the risk of not being taken seriously by employers, and losing focus in your search for a job or your attempt to make yourself invaluable to your employer. Define what you really want to do–the type of work, and even the industry you fit best with, and go after the unadvertised jobs.

    Consider the world with you versus the world without you. The difference is your unique added value—what would be lost to the world if you disappeared?” Can you identify your “economic difference that matters”? What is the added value that you bring to the table?

    What would happen to your current (or future) employer if you couldn’t work? To whom would it matter and why? How long would it take another employee to step into that void?

    Purpose should be at the heart of strategy. It should give direction to every part of your work. What is your purpose in working?

    Your work strategy is an evolving process, not something you do once and it’s done forever. Guiding this never-ending process, bringing perspective to the midst of action and purpose to the flow—not solving the work strategy puzzle once—is your crowning economic responsibility.

    For the original writeup on business strategy, click here: http://tinyurl.com/c4s32t

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