When we compete at an early age, the stakes usually aren’t that high. Whether it was a pick-up game or a spelling bee, our world didn’t end if we lost. However, as we age, the stakes become greater. It becomes getting into the school of your choice, or landing your dream job where you have to out-compete a worthy list of candidates.
Like it or not, you’ll face many important competitive tests in life. Often, you’ll find these situations associated with your career. For this reason, it’s essential that you develop your distinctive advantages along the way. The more skilled you are at doing this, the more likely you are to win the job or that special promotion.
Our world is much more competitive than ever before. Gone is the day when our U.S. economy was built on manufacturing and manual labor with jobs that didn’t require a college education. In those days, workers were paid by the hour and there was little differentiation in wages. Our economy has become more service-oriented and knowledge-based, which has changed everything. Now, you have to demonstrate something special (i.e, skills, experiences, and achievements) in order to land the job and advance in your career. Together, these make up your competitive edge, and should include:
- developing both skill-based and attitude-based competitive advantages. Together, they’re a powerful combination.
- considering what would stand out about you to future employers during your eventual job search
- going the extra mile to become better qualified through experiences and continuing education
- taking every opportunity you can in these next several years to work, intern, and network. It’ll help separate you from the crowd.
- if lacking a skill or a professional qualification, attacking it with full force
- demonstrating an attitude of continuous improvement and a commitment to excellence
- showing results and impact. Create great personal stories that will inspire employers. If you don’t, remember that someone else will—and they’ll wind up with your job or promotion!
You’ll gain two significant benefits from building your competitive edge. First, you’ll expand your skill set and become more marketable, promotable, and valuable. Second, it will show employers that you’re passionate about your work and are driven to perform. Give an employer a great skill set and a winning attitude, and you’ll be a success story in the making!
Help the young adults you know to evaluate: As you assess your skill set and experiences, what do you consider to be your greatest competitive strengths? What are your weaknesses? How can you maximize those strengths and strengthen the weaknesses?