I had a client who worked in a call center – he had been laid off and was looking for another call center job. He really enjoyed the work and it was a great fit for him – which already made him unique in comparison to much of the population! There was more though. We were talking about what might make him stand out from other candidates and he wasn’t sure. He believed he did his job just like everyone else and wasn’t special in any way he could think of.
Like many of us, he was too close to his work to see his unique qualities clearly. I asked if there was something he was particularly proud of in his work – something he does that comes naturally. Upon thinking a bit, he mentioned that he asks to have the most irate callers transferred to him. There it was. I looked at him with a look of “jackpot!” on my face and he was still not sure we had found something important. I prodded a bit: “You ask for the most angry people to be sent your way. How come?” “Because it’s easy for me. I’m good at it. I can calm them down pretty easily and when I can’t, it’s a challenge to find a way to do it. I like the challenge and I like helping people.”
Wow. Not only does he have a job that many people consider difficult and frustrating, he actively seeks out the *most difficult and frustrating* part of it. That is unique. That’s value to an organization. Can you imagine if you were a call center manager and you read on a resume that an applicant “Thrives on resolving the most challenging calls” or “Naturally calms irate customers in record time”? That is someone you would want to talk to!
Finding our uniqueness and expressing it is so important in career development and search. Many people call this branding, but I believe it is much deeper than this. It’s foundational. It speaks to our most natural, lifelong qualities that we are so close to, it can be nearly impossible to see sometimes.
How you do one thing is how you do everything. It’s there, we just have to connect the dots. My guess is that my client naturally calms people in all areas of his life – others’ emotions don’t affect his ability to stay calm and that he helps his friends, family members and co-workers on a daily basis. It’s natural for him and he does it in his own unique way. This is one of his many foundational pieces. You have them too. Want to find them? 🙂 Here are a few ideas:
- Check out Strengths Finder 2.0 and take the assessment. Check it against your work history – what’s unique about the way you display those strengths?
- Look at previous performance evaluations – what things are you praised for?
- Ask family and friends – how do you consistently show up? What are you known for?
- Schedule a session with me and we can do the process together.
Know of other ways to find foundational pieces? Leave them in the comments section and share them with others!