Being Better by Being Different

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Many professionals think of their skillset in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Although it’s always helpful to know these, reciting them to your supervisor or a new client won’t necessarily advance your career. The traits that make you unique, your competitive advantages, are what will make you stand out among your colleagues and earn recognition in the workplace.

When you only define yourself by being better or worse at certain tasks, you set yourself up for failure. Be it by natural ability or greater effort, you’ll typically encounter another professional whose abilities surpass your own. To avoid losing ground to others, you must define yourself not as better or worse, but different.

For example, take the smartphone industry. While there are two prominent models of phones, it’s difficult to say one is better than the other. They offer different solutions to different needs, and it’s their unique positioning that attracts consumers. So, how can you position yourself and find your competitive advantage?

The best place to start is by dividing your existing skills and qualities, such as networking ability and job experience, into columns for both hard and soft skills. After you’ve mapped a few of your qualities, take a look at any complimentary combinations you see, particularly ones that no one but you could have. For example, you may combine experience dealing with large budgets with an ability to briefly communicate your findings. Let these combinations guide you as you position yourself in the workplace, and focus your efforts on developing them.

Ultimately, your competitive advantage boils down to your personality and your experience. Don’t be afraid to embrace the uniqueness of your personality, as it will only improve your authenticity and add credibility as you demonstrate your experience to others.

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