Leading With Change + Innovation

Keynote Speaker. Bestselling Author. Strategic Consultant.

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“If you really want to know about business, you should refer to Scott Steinberg.” -Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group

How to Future-Proof Your Job and Career

Like many corporate speakers and career experts have noted, a lot of people are struggling in the job market today. There aren’t many vacancies and when someone does apply for one, they’re often competing against thousands of people. It can seem as if emails to companies go off to faceless in-boxes read by no one—it’s no surprise, considering the average recruiter spends only six seconds looking at your resume, according to job hunting site TheLadders. Moreover, in the rare event that you do hear from the HR department and get an interview, your chances of getting called back can be slim. Luckily, you don’t need to schedule a one-on-one with any corporate speakers or career experts to fast-track your way to a better job: Here are seven ways to stand out, even in a crowded hiring landscape, and make employers pick up the phone.

Make results your resume. The issue (as you’ll often hear corporate speakers say) is that the economy has become globalized and infinitely competitive, so that more people are vying for fewer opportunities. As a result, if you’re not remarkable, you’ve become replaceable. Really, the question becomes, why would a company want to hire you if they can readily call on dozens if not hundreds of other people with similar skills and similar education? What makes you more qualified than anybody else? School can teach you how to think, but training is necessary if you want to learn how to act.

A work portfolio is the single most important asset you can produce, as it demonstrates experience and provides a tangible reminder that illustrates the excellence you’re capable of achieving. Anyone can hold a job—few can show tangible output that sums up the net result of their efforts. Remember, what you do in the off hours is every bit as vital as those on the clock. Millions are graduating each year with similar credentials—to stand out, you need to create a work history, show results and find ways to set yourself apart from the pack at a glance.

Don’t be a commodity. The problem when we fail to become singular or unique is that we become easy to replace. To rise above anonymity, you need to cultivate skills, experience and connections that others can’t match. Sound hard? It should: Others’ willingness to avoid hard tasks is exactly why you want to dive in… that’s how you gain capabilities that are scarce and therefore valuable, and create competitive advantage.

Now don’t think the deck is stacked against you, specifically. The same lesson applies to businesses, brands and organizations. We’re all facing it—even professional speakers and authors.

For example, it used to be that if you wrote a book it seemed like a great achievement. You had a book! You were a subject matter expert. People believed that you saw the world through new or highly well-informed eyes. Then suddenly self-publishing came about—services like Lulu.com, CreateSpace and Smashwords make it possible for anybody to publish a book. In literally 15 minutes you can put it on various platforms. Now, we’re even seeing the rise of services like HyperInk that will match you with journalists who will compile preexisting blog posts and make the book for you… in other words, you don’t even have to write it. And just like that, what was once remarkable has become mundane.

Constantly work to raise the bar. As we’ve previously noted, it’s vital to be singular—continuing with the above example, you can see just how much the stakes are being raised.

Whereas before it was enough to be a published author, in the current landscape, you now need to have authored multiple books and constantly add new updates, insights and perspectives to punch through the noise and remain relevant. Worth noting, though: Over 90% of books released—and tens of thousands come out annually—sell fewer than 1,000 copies.

So now, not only do you need to be a published author with many books in your portfolio — to rise above the din and gain lasting notoriety, odds are you need a best seller… no small feat. But many do it each year, and many more are getting the chance as evidenced by an explosion of eReaders and accompanying digital stores, many of which come with their own top-selling charts.

The lesson here: To become essential, you must rise up to meet daunting prospects and assign yourself hard tasks—many will drop out of the race long before reaching the finish line, affording those who persevere greater reward. The reality is if we don’t push ourselves to become extraordinary, then we very quickly become expendable… Knowing that the vast majority of rivals are liable to become easily winded and drop out of the competition early, it’s not hard to find motivation to start training to run proverbial marathons now.

Make yourself memorable at a glance. Take it from today’s top corporate speakers: Competition is fierce and, ultimately, we must strive to create value for everyone and everything with whom we interact. It doesn’t matter if it’s with regard to marketing to an end audience, your boss or coworkers, or if it’s pitching sales presentations to customers or possible clients—in all instances, we need to establish and quickly communicate worth.

Benefit by leaning into difficult tasks. Value accrues to brands because of the equity that they’re able to build—their very name conveys worth. And when you make a commitment to doing something extraordinary, strive to push the bar further, and do things that nobody else can, you actually gain competitive advantage and build similar equity. Plunging headfirst into complex or demanding tasks to gain skills that others don’t have because they’ve actively avoided the perceived pain that goes along with them is a form of personal investment.

Promote yourself up the ranks. What happens when you have someone in your organization who boasts unique or extraordinary capabilities? Because they’re hard to replace, they have to be paid more, are treated better, afforded more respect and oftentimes gain more leverage, including the ability to take risks and accomplish more than the average rank and file.

No need to wait for a promotion—you don’t need “VP,” “Director,” or “Manager” in your title to produce meaningful results. Tomorrow belongs to those with two skills: The ability to solve problems and make things happen. Start performing like a star player if you want to be treated like one.

Go the extra mile. And at the end of the day it’s important to remember that what we do in with the last five percent of any project is where we have the most opportunity to exceed expectations to such a level that we make ourselves singular and unique. And what is unique is, by definition, not a commodity.

Whether you’re building a website or baking a cake, remember that most of the main ingredients behind the scenes are the same. Like you’ll frequently hear corporate speakers remind you: It’s in the signature flourishes where we create the most awe-inspiring or delicious results.

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