To Be Differentiated, Know Your Competition

If you’re looking for a job, you face strong competition from others who are also looking for jobs.

To succeed, you must stand out from the rest of the pack. You’ve got to be different. You cannot blend in and look like everyone else.

The first step in differentiating yourself is to know who your competitors are. You’ll want to learn as much as you can about others who are applying for the same jobs you are seeking. You must study your competition.

One way to to do this is look at their profiles on LinkedIn. Take the list of keywords that describe you and then search for others in LinkedIn who use those same words.

Notice which profiles pop up. Pick several individuals and observe how they describe themselves. Study their profiles—their career summaries, specialties, experience and skills. Notice which words and phrases they use to describe themselves.

Pay attention to their writing style. Do they talk in the first or third person? Do they sound conversational? Are they interesting? Look for examples of individuals who have effectively converted their features into benefits?

You can differentiate yourself from others only when you 1) know yourself and 2) know your competition. When you understand who your competitors are and how you are differentiated from them, you are ready to begin selling your brand in a competitive job market.

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These ideas on personal branding were originally presented during two workshops I conducted for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were attended by current and aspiring nonprofit leaders who came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals. —DH

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