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Today’s BIG Idea for career management is to avoid sameness. In a crowded, noisy job market, it does not pay to be like everyone else. If you are not getting calls back when you submit an application or your resume, it is time to think about a new approach.

From your resume to doing your homework to pursuing a job opportunity, you want to avoid sameness — the sin of looking like every of other candidate and, by default, blending into the herd. In this new economy, with digital disruptions and industry consolidations, looking like everyone else is the last thing you want to achieve.

To quote two-time America’s cup skipper Jimmy Spithill:

Rarely have I seen a situation where doing less than the other guy is a good strategy.”

Differentiation is all about doing more.

  • Differentiate with a customized resume that addresses the needs of the prospective employer, connecting the dots from your experience and successes with their needs is absolutely essential.
  • Differentiate through your homework — research and preparation. Recruiters say that one of the biggest problems they see today is that candidates come to interviews unprepared.
  • Differentiate in how effective you are telling your story. From questions about your early life growing up to discussing your biggest mistake, the candidates who are most likely to succeed are the ones who do the best job telling their story — that is to say communicating their value. And they have done the best job preparing themselves.
  • Differentiate by being self aware. Interviews are trying experiences. You typically meet a multitude of people and as the day wears on, it is easy to lose a little of your edge. Being attentive and gracious throughout the day will not get the job but being self aware will keep you from losing it. One CEO I know said he likes to meet candidates for breakfast. He comes early, and arranges with the manager of the restaurant and waiter to foul up the candidate’s order, assuring everyone they will receive a generous tip. His purpose: to see how the candidate responds to the waiter’s so-called mistake.

And finally:

  • Differentiate by being more effective in managing your references. Too many candidates resort to autopilot at this stage in the search. They fail to close the deal by prepping their references for the types of questions they can expect as well as refreshing the referee’s memories about their successes which they surely will be asked about.

Now here are two other important career tips:

  1. There is real value in keeping a career journal to record career accomplishments — the quantifiable proof of your success. In my outplacement practice, the frustration of candidates in transition when they realize how much better off they would be with that information is significant. I have written on this subject many time. Visit my web site at and type “career journal” in the search box for blogs and podcasts for more information on this important career tool.
  2. Keep your social media profiles up to date. Platforms like LinkedIn are important job searching tools. My colleague in Dubai, Ron Thomas, likes to say that LinkedIn is a global billboard to highlight your abilities and accomplishments…and it’s free. By maintaining an updated profile that includes mention of your successes and promotions will help you create valuable relationships with recruiters.

I hope this information has been helpful. I am here to help you successfully manage your career. I invite to follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter and my Facebook page, JohnGSelf Partners.

That’s it for today. See you next week.