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Differentiate yourself in your current job to compete for your next job

Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on May 24, 2021.

On May 12, I spoke to students at Drexel University about how to differentiate themselves in their current job, as well as how to help them compete for their next job. I shared the following differentiators with them.

Develop a track record of results

How did the results you achieved in your current position support the goals of your organization? Share how you have been innovative and have exercised initiative. A potential employer will assess what you can do for their company, based on what you accomplished at your previous employer.

Be customer/client-focused

The Holy Grail of every business is to be the preferred provider to its market – the company that is the first choice by customers/clients from which to purchase products or services. How have you provided a great customer/client experience?

If you are in a staff position, your job is to help other staff and line units within your company be successful in achieving their goals. If you are in a line position, your job is to help your company’s customers/clients be successful in their businesses. How have you done so?

Show commitment to continuous improvement

If you felt there was a more effective approach to accomplishing your organization’s goals, did you challenge paradigms, which are the accepted ways of doing things? Challenging the status quo shows initiative and desire to improve the company’s operation. It also helps your company to be more competitive.

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Build your personal brand

Develop a reputation within your company and industry as a problem solver and a facilitator with high emotional intelligence. Be an individual who brings people together to find common ground.

Develop your reputation as a thought leader – a recognized authority in your field of expertise. Get what you have accomplished and are accomplishing out in front of an audience. Write articles and blogs on LinkedIn and other platforms. Volunteer to speak in front of groups. Help others be successful.

Be an influencer

How have you influenced the direction of your organization? People who are in sales aren’t the only ones who sell. Everyone is selling their ideas to their boss, their peers, the teams they serve on and to their direct reports. This requires good presentation skills. It also requires good listening skills, not only to address objections, but to be open to other ideas. 

Get out of your comfort zone

Employers want to hire people who embrace new challenges and who are not afraid of taking on new assignments outside of their comfort zone. It’s the best way to acquire experience, knowledge and new skills. Describe the times you have gotten out of your comfort zone and what you learned. Describe when you encouraged a direct report to get out of their comfort zone as well.

View failure as a learning opportunity

During an interview, you may be asked to describe a failure, how you recovered and what you learned. You may also be asked how you de-risk your decisions. Albert Einstein once said, “If you have never failed, you have never tried anything new.” One must learn how to take risks, recognize you will occasionally experience failure and move forward. That’s how you grow.

Employers hire people who see possibilities and abundance, not limitations and scarcity. Problems are opportunities. They are barriers to overcome.

These differentiators will give you an advantage when competing for your next job. Develop them in your current job. Share them in your job interview. They will help you stand out from other individuals who are interviewing for the same position.


Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance. He can be reached at

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