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Mastering the Art of Standing Out From the Crowd

With another three quarters of a million students in the UK leaving university each year (and an even greater number leaving sixth forms and colleges) mastering the art of differentiation is a vital skill in successfully gaining the employment or further education students want.

Powering Your Potential breaks down the myths, the power of difference and the importance of understanding that realising your potential through the discovery and articulation of differentiation should be a desire shared by all.

The myth

Some students believe that differentiation can be achieved through qualifications achieved, but fail to recognise virtually every person they are competing against has the same qualifications.

The power of you

The only differentiation you have as an individual is you. As an individual you come across in a way that is entirely different to anyone else. We are all different, with different experiences, outlooks and objectives. We all have our own reason why!

Positive differentiation

As a student, standing out from the crowd boils down to positive differentiation – whether it’s a CV or personal statement, networking event or formal interview, the ability to leave a good and memorable impression is both vital and personal. Individuality needs to come across from the very first interaction with an employer or university.

Being different doesn’t mean weird

Differentiation is not about being “quirky” people surround themselves with people like themselves. Standing out from the crowd is all about understanding, and then articulating the why at the heart of you because there is only one you.

Articulate your value

The students Andy and I meet are often well prepared and are clear on what employers are looking for. I’m just not convinced they understand why they are looking for those things, hence why they face challenges when trying to communicate their strengths, be honest about their weaknesses and articulate the value they will bring to the opportunity.

Standard is standard for a reason

A degree or A levels are very much in the expected area of an individual’s value proposition. So are computer skills, being a good communicator and all the other standard questions. They are standard for a reason! People buy people. We are attracted to augmentations; extras, differences. The ability to quickly build rapport and enable people to be open to these differences is crucial to people making positive decisions about you

Be prepared for non-standard questions

When interviewing students for employment, I ask if there’s anything I haven’t asked that they want to tell me. This question is a platform to reveal, if they haven’t already, their individual purpose and why. This is the hardest question for them, but it is also the question where their answer could make the biggest difference and leave a lasting impression. Having both led and sat on graduate recruitment panel’s, mentored both in and out of the workplace; sadly the differentiation was limited, and the decision regarding success, largely down to gut feel regarding “could I or others work with them?”

The negative impact of unrealised potential

The economic impact of failing to articulate your why is clear – but there is also a social impact. If people end up settling for a job below their capability simply to get a job, then it provides downward pressure, restricting the opportunities of those with perhaps, less academic ability to realise their potential.

In conclusion

Realising your potential through the discovery and articulation of your why and differentiation should be a desire shared by everyone. More so when understanding the negative knock on effect is not simply a bit less money for you, but has a bigger impact on society and how we all feel about life.