Changing Careers? Here's How To Set Yourself Apart During A Job Hunt
Even if there are a bunch of industry leaders or a competitor has a stronghold on the market, there's always going to be the customer who wants something a little different. It's just about niching down and knowing what you can uniquely bring to the table. It's your genius and hot take on the situation.
A small, real-world example.
Truth be told, I've never understood the fuss about mayo. It's flavorless and weird. And what's the deal with the raw eggs? One day, I bought vegan chipotle mayo because I was in a rush and needed a dipping sauce for my yam fries. I was taking them to a party and thought, People like mayo, right? This will work. Anyway, I tried it. Now I can't get enough of the stuff.
The mayonnaise industry is a $13.5 billion one. And if you were trying to get into it, you might think that the competition is stiff and there's no room for you. You might say that it's been done before, every kitchen already has a jar somewhere in the back of the fridge, and you're outta luck.
No matter how many brands are on the market, there could be a Canadian gal standing in Whole Foods Market in a rush on a Friday night who would totally buy something a little different if it was there. That's where your vegan chipotle mayo comes in.
Somebody wants what you've got, even if you keep discrediting it or don't think it's that special.
How is this all applicable in your life?
Instead of lamenting over how many other real estate agents there are in your city and then using it to fuel your case against your genius, remember that you can offer something different in a crowded field.
No matter how good a real estate ad looks at the bus stop, some people might want to hire you because you grew up in the neighborhood. So don't make the mistake of assuming that there's no room for you. Because there is.
Here are a few ways to find your version of the "vegan chipotle mayo" in your life:
Don't be shy about your special talents.
If you're a student trying to get into college, tell admissions what makes you unique and don't be shy about it. My business school application was a creative essay about my love for making jewelry. Specifically, "the possibility of something beautiful, not yet given form." (Very poetic, thank you.)
It was certainly a risk; it was artsy and heavy on the metaphors. But I weaved it in with my goal of becoming an entrepreneur. How many other kids wrote an application based on the metaphor of jewelry-making? Probably zero. The majority likely droned on about grades and other generic stuff that admissions has seen a zillion times. Anyhoo, they gave me the thumbs-up and I got into a school with a 6% acceptance rate. My point? Leverage what makes you different.
Back up your claim with past experiences.
If you're on a team vying for a promotion, articulate what you can do that nobody else can, and back it up with proof from the past.
For example, when I spoke to someone who wanted a product manager role at Uber but lacked the technical background, she relied on the fact that she oversaw operations for countless global cities in her current role. Sure, others can code, but how many applicants can say they have experience like that? Find that one thing you have that nobody else in the stack of résumés does, and talk about it.
Use outside knowledge.
If you're changing careers, use your outside knowledge to your advantage. If everyone's a longtime accountant and you're picking up accounting after being a professional baker, explain how your genius transfers and leverages your ability to see things with fresh eyes. That outside perspective is more alluring to employers than you realize. Plus, when you're brand-new to something, having a beginner's mindset is actually an asset because you don't see the same obstacles as those who've been in the industry for a while. So play it up, buttercup.
Excerpt from P.S. You're a Genius: An Unconventional Guide to Finding Your Innate Gifts (Even When You Feel Like You Have None) by Kelly Trach, published by Matt Holt Books an imprint of BenBella Books, Inc. Copyright © 2021.
Kelly Trach is a 4x entrepreneur, business coach, and author of P.S. You’re A Genius: An Unconventional Guide to Finding Your Innate Gifts (Even When You Feel Like You Have None). She helps visionaries find their genius and monetize it so that they can build digital businesses.
Trach has a bachelor of commerce honors degree from the University of British Columbia where she studied on scholarship. She previously worked at Tesla Motors, studied at Sciences Po in Paris France, and was accepted in a pre-accelerator program taught by a billionaire venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. She’s spoken at places like Uber and NASDAQ.