A job search workshop leader asks his audience to: “Describe what unique value you offer.” Minutes later a participant asks what others are wondering. “How is what I have to offer really unique? Maybe it’s the editor in me, but I wouldn’t say what I have is unique.” The workshop leader explains that he is referring to a combination of skills and talents unique to the individual who uses them.
The confusion is understandable, especially when you realize how many are in the job market competing with skill sets so similar to your own. The call to set yourself apart from the others is as compelling as it is nerve racking. In order to define your reliable assets in the skill department, it’s imperative to look as deeply and broadly as possible at the sum of your experience to harvest evidence that may have been overlooked.
Throughout a working life of ten, or fifteen or more years there are often times when you may have been involved in work, paid or not, that has provided an opportunity for you to put your best self forward, but for which you received little or no recognition. These experiences count!
If you take the time to dredge up specific pieces of your personal history allowing you to recognize the value of your performance, you’ll begin to see how uniquely your talents are packaged. They are in you in a way unique to your personality and won’t be duplicated any time soon. The story is all yours. Give yourself credit for any aha! moment you’ve had and describe how it happened. Demonstrating learning is demonstrating potential.
Just because no one may have given you praise for doing your job, it is still your job to recognize what it took to perform it. Take nothing for granted.
My moment of sudden awareness came in remembering a job I did very early on in my career and had forgotten how much I enjoyed. I was a field data collector for a market research firm and I was tasked with approaching bank customers, clipboard in hand, and asking them screening questions for participation in a focus group. This one recollection brought a flood of similar experiences to mind, all of which I had not given much thought.
Resist the urge to tell yourself: “That’s just dealing with the public, anyone can do it.” Then look at what it takes: poise, calm demeanor, confident speaking, projecting an approachable, non-threatening manner. These traits aren’t found just anywhere. They are highly prized in a number of job venues. Filter your personal history for this kind of detail, and you’ll see how your particular set of experiences has created your unique story, and informs the value you have to offer.