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VOL. 129 | NO. 7 | Friday, January 10, 2014

Learning to Stand Out From the Pack

By Angela Copeland

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Angela Copeland

Many people think they know what it is that makes one candidate stand out from another. Some think it’s an expensive graduate degree. Others say it’s the ability to take on loads of student debt, or being born into the right family. Although a pedigree from a good school and being in the right social circle never hurts, it usually won’t be the deciding factor between you and another candidate.

The difference boils down to something called “sticktoitiveness.” Sticktoitiveness can be observed in a person who doesn’t give up. It’s someone who sees projects through to the end. Someone who perseveres. Someone who is tenacious. This is someone who really believes in themselves and their mission.

I recently met with a newly minted college graduate. She was prompt, friendly, straightforward, prepared and open. She was confident in her abilities, despite little work experience. When compared to someone older, with more experience and possibly more degrees, one might automatically assume that she has no chance.

Upon taking a closer look however, the more experienced candidate may also be the one who comes with more baggage. The experienced candidate has been to battle and has come back with scars and memories of harsh realities. They may no longer believe in themselves or their abilities.

When you’re starting to look for a job, I encourage you to think back to the time when you were the bright-eyed graduate full of possibilities. Realize that, in other’s eyes, you still have potential and value. Try not to assume that just because you don’t meet every criterion for a job that you won’t be considered. What do you really have to lose from trying?

Also, don’t assume that because you don’t have a graduate degree that you won’t be valued. Many job seekers immediately sign up for graduate school before exploring their options fully. It’s one thing if your field requires an advanced degree. But, don’t sign up for years of work and debt with the expectation that the only thing standing between you and a better job is a piece of paper. This often leads down a path of debt and disappointment. What can you learn on your own, or through volunteering? Does the employer truly require an additional degree? Could you take a handful of courses without signing up for an entire program?

For those just starting their careers, hone into the edge you have. Find your energy and confidence. Even when you hear no’s, keep knocking on doors. You only need to find one yes. My first job out of college required both work experience and a master’s degree, neither of which I had. At the end of the day, I got the job because I was willing to show up for myself.

Whether you are a new job seeker or a seasoned professional, the message is the same. Stick to what you believe in. Stand up for yourself. Keep pushing forward on your search each day. And be an advocate for yourself and your abilities. Other people believe in you, and you should too.

Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, www.CopelandCoaching.com. You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (Facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).

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