Look around you. In the mall, on the streets. What do you see? Hundreds of people, heads bowed as they go about their business, hardly looking to the left or the right. Stand out and be noticed!
They’re hoping to blend in you see.
We’re herd animals and our instinct is not to upset the hierarchy.
We’re programmed to believe that this is the secret to survival, adopting a low profile, keeping our voices down and wearing the clothes and accessories that our place in the herd dictates.
In ancient times, when we were hunting mammoths for our Sunday lunch or, more likely, trying to steal another tribe’s fresh meat, keeping your head down was a good way of avoiding confrontation.
But we’ve moved on just a little since then.
Imagine you’re going for an interview
One question you’re likely to be asked is, “What makes you so special?” Think about that for a minute. The interviewers have seen eight people already and you’re the last. How are they going to remember you when they review the CVs and interview notes the next day?
“Which one was this, the one with the grubby handbag or the one who used to be a pharmacist?”
Wouldn’t it help if they could remember who you are?
First, be noticed to help you stand out
This is not an invitation to wear a silly outfit or have your lips pierced. Identify your strengths and use them to help you stand out, not just when you’re being interviewed, but every day.
Imagine you’re a product. What do you offer that others don’t? If the answer is nothing, your urgent priority is to find something you’re good at.
Even modest ability in some useful activity is usually enough to start. Maybe you’re pretty good with customers, a lateral thinker or someone with a flair for organizing. Identify your real strengths as opposed to those you wished you had and build on them.
If organizing is your thing, read everything you can get your hands on that will help you develop this expertise. Soon, you’ll become known as someone who’s a great organiser and already you’ve set yourself apart from the crowd. But that’s just the beginning.
Have a good look at yourself. Is that the best you can do?
Do you stand straight with your shoulders back looking proud and confident, or do you slouch over hoping to remain inconspicuous? People notice such things and nobody has confidence in someone who doesn’t have it in themselves.
What about the clothes? Fresh, clean and fairly new, or frayed, creased and shabby? The idea is to stand out and be seen as a winner. Be dressed and groomed like one.
Don’t just stand there, do something
If there’s one well-kept secret about how to succeed at work, this is it. Imagine it’s quitting time. Everyone packs their things away and fusses about with their bags and briefcases as they rush off to catch a train, meet someone for drinks or go to the gym.
Hardly anyone notices the lone person beavering away at their desk. Before you follow the herd, stop and say,
“Hey, you look like you have a lot on your plate. Anything I can do to help? Happy to chip in with what you’re doing, make you a cup of coffee – whatever you need.”
Do you have any idea how quickly a gesture like that identifies you as someone special? What does it say about you?
- You’re ambitious.
- You’re considerate
- You have a passion for work
- You’re dedicated
- You’re a team player
- You’re leadership material
- You value the company’s interests
Even if your other strengths are not enough to set you apart, your appetite for work and for helping others will lift you out of the crowd and onto the winner’s podium.