How NOT to Be the Generic Job Candidate

How NOT to Be the Generic Job Candidate

This week’s podcast, “Know the Product You Are Selling: You” for graduating college students, goes in-depth on these three points:

  1. Know yourself.
  2. Be consistent with your brand.
  3. Know what’s important to you in an employer you would want to work for.

Let’s talk more about this brand thing. Identifying your personal brand and translating that brand throughout your marketing materials – resume, LinkedIn profile, and verbal presentation – is crucial in positioning yourself as the name-brand alternative to the many generic candidates you will be competing with.

Generic candidates are those who, if they express any brand at all on their resume, say generic things like “Hard-Working,” “Team Player,” and “Strong Communication Skills.”

If you’ve listened to my podcast or read my blog before, you may have heard my analogy: It’s like going to the car dealership and asking the salesperson about a particular vehicle you’re interested in.

He replies with enthusiasm, “This car has four tires, an engine, and a steering wheel!”

You’re overwhelmed with the depth of information he’s just conveyed. Not.

He hasn’t differentiated that vehicle from any other vehicle on the planet.

The parallel?

“I’m hard-working.” (I have four tires.)

“I’m a team player.” (Check out my steering wheel.)

“I have excellent communication skills.” (I have an engine.)

Let’s think about some well-known brands, and my generic equivalent for their slogans.

Would you buy:

Nike…if their slogan was “We sell stuff you wear.”

State Farm Insurance…if, instead of “Like a good neighbor,” their slogan was “Insurance you may or may not need someday.”

Frosted Flakes…if Tony the Tiger proclaimed that “They’re sugar and flour!”

I could go on. Years after “Where’s the beef?” was used as Wendy’s slogan, people still say that. Okay, maybe people my age still say that.

Here’s the point: a slogan…a brand…is meant to create a feeling.

You want a potential employer to have a feeling about you.

You actually want to repel some folks with your brand, because that means you will attract other folks.

The generic brand doesn’t attract anyone. The only reason anyone chooses the generic alternative is to save money.

Translation: good companies want to hire brand-name employees, and they are willing to pay for that. Not-so-good companies settle for generic employees because they are cheaper.

So…what makes you different from your competition? What do you bring to the table that is better than all other candidates? What do you stand for?

This is really, really important. If you want help articulating and executing your brand, reach out to me. I’m here for you.

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