If you are not different from others in some meaningful way, you will likely achieve no more than 50% of your potential; you leave 50% of your net worth on the table.

This is what young professionals face today as they begin their journey to fulfill their career dreams and be successful.

There are more people looking for jobs than there are jobs.

And the people in the crowd approaching organizations for an opportunity look the same.

The typical interview 

When being interviewed, members of the job hunting herd are literally indistinguishable from one another.

  • They talk mostly about their academic credentials and the marks they earned.
  • They exhibit a superficial understanding of the organization they are speaking to and the challenges it faces.
  • They don’t ask meaningful penetrating questions about the company and the markets it serves.
  • Their answers to interview questions rely more on what they’ve been taught in school rather than from a practical perspective.
  • The conversation is replete with standard cliches: “My strength is dealing with people”; “I understand new technologies”; “My weakness is trying to do too much, or I’m impatient at times” and on it goes.

When they cannot demonstrate something unique about themselves, they unfortunately provide a hiring organizations no compelling reason to pay attention to them over others and to consider them high for employment potential.

Some say that it is ok to possess skills and competencies similar to others; that there is a limit on how people can be different. 

You can differentiate yourself

HOGWASH! That’s like saying there is no way you can turn a commodity into a differentiated product and we all know that is absolute rubbish. 

Products can be made to be special in a myriad of ways and all it takes is imagination and creativity to create something different and unmatched in the marketplace — ever heard of The Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas?

It’s no different with people.

Each and every one of us can be distinct from every other person in some special way if we are motivated to discover our specialness.

The problem is we have never been led to think that being different was expected. Rather, “the system” imposes on us conformance and compliance expectations and has brainwashed us to believe that fitting in was the only acceptable outcome.

The school system is all about grinding our students who have all mastered the same stuff in the same way.

Being different is not driven into young people; it’s frowned upon.

So the consequences of not being different are, first, young people have an extremely tough time getting a job and launching their career, and second, organizations are robbed of the creativity they need to survive and thrive in our unpredictable and chaotic world.

Double jeopardy with very unfortunate outcomes.

Written By
Roy Osing is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead. You can also read more of Roy Osing's articles at his website.

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