Written by Catherine Adenle
In life, you need that special something, that ‘je ne sais quoi’ to get you anywhere. Standing out in a crowd is far more important than ever in this bad economic climate and concentrated job market. Right from the beginning of your career until you retire, that special x factor will set you aside from your competitors.
According to the Guardian Jobs, a study published by Metro found that more than half of all new graduates are either unemployed or in menial jobs six or more months after leaving university. So, as a job seeker, you have to aim to get noticed early. These days, whether you are a job seeker looking to find that perfect job or an entrepreneur in need of some business opportunities, you need to master what it takes to stand out in a big sea of competition.
Like it or not, people do business with the people they like. Whatever you do, make sure that you are “likeable!” However, for that special x factor, first impression counts. Experts say that first impressions are based on 60% non-verbal communication and 40% verbal. This means that when you meet people, you’ll be judged mostly based on your look and perceived charisma before you even open your mouth. Need a job? You need that x factor.
So, what do you need to have this x factor?
1. Dress well and have good posture. Showing up anywhere and looking like you’ve just rolled out from under your duvet is not a good look. If you shuffle into a room with a self-inflicted hunchback and slumped shoulders looking wary and ordinary, no one is going to pay you any attention. Fix up and look sharp to draw attention to yourself if you are competing with others for a job. Otherwise, you will look just like the others who will be forgotten once they step out of the interview room. When you walk in anywhere; walk tall with your shoulders back and your head held high. Radiate enthusiasm with positive energy and look like a superstar job seeker.
2. Put that little extra into extraordinary. Anyone who is willing to take the extra step will go far and beyond to stand out. For example if you are looking for work, don’t just show up with your CV. Instead, have a Skills Portfolio to showcase all your achievements and to demonstrate how you have utilised your skills in the past. The point is to make whatever it is you have more interesting and visible. Show them why you are the best candidate for the job.
3. You are your own brand. No one else is like you in the world so believe in yourself and show why you are special. To stand out from a crowd, you must walk the talk; believe that you are someone worth chatting to and being around. See yourself as the managing director of ‘YOU’ limited. Develop an online brand especially on LinkedIn to spread the word about you, your interests, experience, skills and allow potential employers to verify your professional skills and experience. Follow companies in your field on LinkedIn and Twitter so that you are automatically notified about new hires and product developments. Once you have overcome the fear of being the center of attention, you’ve got the vital ingredient needed to stand out in a crowd. Be confident and friendly and you’re sure to radiate that special x factor. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression! So make your brand count.
4. Have the relevant desired skills. Without having to expatiate further on this, it goes without saying that you need the desired skills to get a job these days. It’s imperative that you have the skills applicable to the position that you are applying for. Sticking to the relevant skills needed for a position shows your great understanding of the role and what matters for the particular position. No one is interested in your culinary skills if you are applying for a job in a high octane law firm environment.
5. Learn to create an unforgettable experience by showing initiative. Having that special x factor is knowing how to stand out from the crowd. So, do something unexpected, unique and interesting. Ensure that whatever you do is not offensive, get it right and it will create an unforgettable experience for your interviewers. For instance, you can prepare a good presentation based on the organisations’ business or products and how they surpass their close competitors. You can also add ideas on how to further improve their products. Ensure that you research their business well or you could be remembered for the wrong reasons!
6. Make it all about you and what you have to offer. Need a job? You need that X factor. So, bring your personality on! If you want to succeed both in life and business, take your best personality traits and make them 3 times visible. Combined, that’s your x factor! Now more than ever, people in organisations employ those they like and trust. In business, people do business with people they like. The easiest way to acquire likeability is by being authentic. Your CV, cover letter, look and demeanour should express your unique essence. When you are your authentic self, there’s no competition.
7. Walk into any interview room with a purpose. Along with your upright confident posture comes walking with a purpose. Walk in with an aura of someone ready to take anything on but don’t be cocky. Walk in like you mean business, and people will notice you.
8. Be polite and have good manners. There’s no point looking the part with your posture, style and confidence if you’re going to add a negative vibe in the midst of everything. Polite manners open doors and keep them open. Manners aren’t old-fashioned; they are the exchange of respect. When someone feels respected, they remember it. Having impeccable manners will set you aside from the rest. Saying thank you for all things people do will cement your x factor. Smile, it’s free. You don’t have to buy a smile. There are never enough smiles to go around! Recruiters and company hiring managers say they also often seek out potential hires from other places, at meetings, conferences and other events that professional groups host. “Trade shows are great fishing expeditions for recruiters,” says Barry Shulman, a principal at San Francisco-based recruiting firm Shulman Associates Executive Search Inc. If you go around with a frown, you may miss your chance of a good job.
9. Be all ears! Stop your eyes from wandering, at all times, be attentive. Turn off your mobile phones, pay attention and focus fully on whoever is talking to you and be truly interested in them. This will show them that they are the one standing out from the crowd in your eyes. Most people are busy thinking about what to say next or how to explain their thoughts and ideas. Frankly, a listener will surely stand out from the rest. Be willing to give interviewers the time and space to talk about their organisations, themselves and other things. Not only will this flatter them and reassure them that they matter, but they’ll realize very quickly that you are someone they can count on to listen.
10. Perfect your elevator pitch. Have your own self introduction on lock down! Having a well-rehearsed, introductory statement that you can whip up on anyone is such a huge confidence builder. You have to know how to answer that all important, “So tell me about yourself” question. For a job seeker, this question can be one of the most intimidating questions in the job search process. This is also the case for entrepreneurs when it comes to talking about their business. So knowing how to answer the question is important.
Let us hear about other ways in which that special x factor can secure you a job or the connections you need.