Several years (and careers) ago, I was approached about applying for the job of editor of a national magazine. Now at that point, I wrote a column for the local paper, but I wouldn’t have called myself a journalist, and definitely not an editor. The only thing I really had going for me was I knew the content – it was a parenting magazine, and I was a parent educator.
Despite my misgivings, I decided to forge ahead with my application, figuring I had nothing to lose, but in order to make myself stand out, I took a somewhat risky but creative approach to my resume – I made it like a magazine.
Taking the regular columns in the magazine, I used them as my base for the resume, so for example Letters to the Editor became my letter of application. In the Behaviour section, I listed my strengths and weaknesses, listing persistence under both! And for their Stages column, I listed my qualifications which were mainly having two daughters, and being in the trenches so to speak.
It was a rigorous process, including my having to critique the latest issue of the magazine which could have been dangerous if I’d chosen to bad mouth the publisher’s favourite section.
Regardless, I got the job. I know my “resume” impressed them and certainly brought me to their attention straight away. It rose above all the others they’d received. As for my time there, well that’s a whole other story.
My point is that in order to “stand out from the crowd” you have to put in extra effort, become creative and really showcase that you have what it takes to deliver. Now it won’t always work and sometimes, it’s just as well because maybe it is not a good fit.
I remember one colleague, Helen, who designed a very creative brochure to illustrate her creative design business. In doing so she wanted to narrow down who she worked with, as she was tired of working with clients who didn’t get it, who didn’t appreciate her creative approach. Or as my daughter, who is also a graphic designer, would say “I don’t do ugly.”
At any rate, Helen figured her brochure would be her screening tool. Those who dismissed or didn’t like it, she chose not to work with, as their response was a pre-cursor to what their working relationship would be like. Those who loved it, soon became clients as they were on the same wave length.
Developing your niche
As you look at ways to stand out, think about the type of clients you want to attract, what sort of work you prefer to do. Where are you outstanding and way ahead of your peers? When you build those aspects into your marketing strategy, it helps develop a niche market.
My IT guy, for example, discovered almost accidentally that he can help vets set up their computer systems with special software. Once he’d done this for his own vet, he realized there was a whole new niche market out there just waiting for him. Who knew? Soon word was out and he added several vets to his client roster.
Spend some time thinking about what makes you special, unique and the person of choice for potential clients. Like my IT guy, what problem can you solve for them? Once you know this, it is so much easier to get your name out there – through blogging, social media and promoting yourself as an expert. Even volunteering can help spread the word.
So often it is a skill or talent that we take for granted, something we find so easy to do, yet for others it is a struggle. Step back and reflect on your unique talents, see how you can capitalize and build on those strengths. Step into the spotlight.