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The Principle of Decommoditization: How to stand out to hiring managers

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Many of us are starting to realize that doing the same thing as everyone else doesn’t work any more.

We have a deep invisible script that if we simply work harder than other people, we’ll win. But that’s a lie.

I remember hanging out with a college friend of mine right before she started law school. I always liked to joke about the inferno of hell my law-school friends were about to walk into, just for kicks.

“So people get pretty nutty in law school,” I said. “You’re going to turn into one of them, aren’t you?”

(Note: 100% of people I’ve used this line on delusionally respond, “No, not me…I’m going to be different.” Yet they almost always turn out the same.)

But not my friend! “You’re right,” she said. “But I think if I just buckle down for the next 3 years, I can be near the top of my class…” In other words, ‘I’m going to do what every single other law student is doing…yet somehow I expect that I’ll be at the top of the class.’

It sounds logical — just buckle down! — but again, everyone else is doing the exact same thing. Which results in desperate moves like this:

“PricewaterhouseCoopers received more than 250,000 applications through its Web site over the last year, but it has hired only 1 percent from that pool, said Holly Paul, its United States recruiting leader. She said a house painter with no qualifications beyond high school had applied for 10 different openings that required college degrees and accounting certification.”
New York Times

When it comes to finding our Dream Job, most of us are doing the exact same thing as literally millions of other people: Submitting our resumes through job websites. Waiting for companies to call us back. Going into interviews and “answering questions.” If that’s the game you’re playing, you’ve already lost.

It turns out that to get the attention of companies and hiring mangers you want, you have to stand out. But how do you do stand out? Does that mean using colored highlights in your resume? Wearing a particular kind of shirt so they remember you? How do you stand out in a way that helps you actually attract the attention of important people — before you meet them, in the interview room, and even at the negotiating table?

We know we “should” try to stand out, but it’s not clear exactly how.

Yet top performers know how. Even in this economy, they have multiple job offers. Many top performers who were laid off in 2009 and 2010 had multiple job offers within days.

While they’re collecting the best jobs — often before the jobs are ever announced publicly — most people fight over the scraps by “spraying and praying” for their shotgunned resume to be answered by someone. You see this level of humiliating desperation mirrored only in the life-coach market, filled with 98% useless people with no discernible skills while 2% take the entire industry’s profits.

Standing out is hard. Not only do you have to know HOW to stand out, you have to execute masterfully. To show you how, today we begin the 3-week Dream Job Boot Camp. This week, we’ll be covering SPECIFIC EXAMPLES of how to stand out in a way that gets you the right attention, at the right time, from the right people.

You’ll learn how to make your resume “semi-automatically” float to the top of the pile, beating out hundreds of competing candidates. I’ll show you the specific resume that secured me job offers from Google and other companies — as well as analyze exactly why I constructed it the way I did.

Next week, I’ll do a series of posts about networking, including the exact emails I’ve used to meet CEOs and hiring managers.

Finally, in week 3, I’ll cover interviewing & networking — but this will be private to members of the Dream Job launch list. And then I’ll open up my premium Dream Job course to those of you who want to take your hunt for your Dream Job to the next level. As always, I expect this free material to rival anyone’s paid material.

I’d like to begin by talking about the surprising challenges of standing out.

The Surprising Principles of Decommoditization

That’s salt, also called a commodity. It’s called a commodity because you don’t care which brand of salt you get…they’re all the same to you. You can substitute one brand of salt for another and nobody would be able to tell the difference. And as a result, the price of commodity salt is extremely low.

Most people’s job searches turn them into commodities. They’re easily substitutable bodies that are only serving to fill headcount requirements. You do NOT want to be a commodity, because if you are, you’re exactly the same as the next 100 applicants — and there’s no way for any of these techniques to work.

For example, imagine you’re a hiring manager. You put out a job description for a project manager and, in today’s economy, you get 250+ resumes in 48 hours. Hiring managers give your resume, on average, less than 10 seconds of attention before moving on to the next one.

Yours must stand out, yet most people consistently produce mediocre applications that look like everything else out there.

I know because when I’ve hired for roles in the past, I gave each applicant about 10 seconds. In fact, rather than looking deeply into each application to see the applicant’s true nature (that’s not my job), I looked for ways to disqualify them so I could find someone who finally, truly stood out.

You do not want to be a bottle of salt. You want to be a truffle, something so unique and valuable that people will pay disproportionately for you. They will not be able to even conceive of substituting you, because through your application, you will uniquely solve their problems so deeply that you’ll be considered “one of a kind.”

When that happens, not only have you secured the job offer, but you have laid the foundation for negotiating an enviable salary. THIS is how negotiation works — with 80% of the work being done before you ever set foot at the negotiating table.

Think about the fact that if you submit your resume through the front door like most people, you get less than 10 seconds. People don’t like hearing this because it makes them mad that they spent “all this time” on a cover letter and resume, and the hiring manager won’t even “take the time” to read it. You get comments like this from delusional Hacker News user ntkachov:

“Well then, Don’t expect me to even bother writing a cover letter or tailor my resume. In fact, if your only going to be scanning over my resume in 30 seconds why, on earth, should I even spend any time filling out your form to send you my resume? When I send people my resume, I at the very least expect them to read through it. If my skill set matches what you are looking for and you are thinking of an interview, I expect you to at the very least Google my name, or check out my website/github which I conveniently include as a QR code.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

It’s not the hiring manger’s responsibility to see you for your best self — IT’S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. This guy has probably never hired anyone. Instead, he’s projecting his expectations onto the hiring manager, which are wildly out of touch with reality. (Also, a QR code? Are you seriously kidding me? ‘Here Mr. Hiring Manager, I’m also including a key to an anonymous bank safety-deposit box in Manhattan where I recorded a DVD of my skillset…now please follow these clues to identify the box and forge my signature to gain access to the security box.’ Get the hell out of here.)

It’s easy to scoff at this guy’s unrealistic expectations. But YOU — yes, you — do the very same thing:

  • You write emails with too many non-essential words, or emails with too FEW details, expecting the hiring manager to read between the lines
  • You write cover letters that say the exact same thing as everyone else, yet expect to get an interview
  • Your resume includes words that have not “earned their way” onto the page, limiting your space to highlight the material that really matters, yet you expect the reader to really “understand” your background

Big problem. While most of us aren’t as transparently kooky as that above commenter, we actually do the functionally equivalent behaviors. We expect hiring managers to truly understand our soul, when they really just want to finish hiring so they can get back to work eating potato chips and playing Zynga. We expect them to take the responsibility to “discover” us, when it’s really our job.

In my research, I have seen thousands of applications, and they are almost uniformly bad. I don’t say that to be condescending, but I have data to back it up. In fact, when I tried to give away a $12,000 scholarship to my Dream Job Elite program, I could not identify even one winning application out of 100+ applicants.

On the other hand, when an application is superb, it immediately stands out — instantly. There are certain Competence Triggers that will capture the attention of a hiring manager and “semi-automatically” bring your application to the top of the pile.

Here’s one remarkable way to stand out — a SPECIFIC TECHNIQUE that has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars of documented results, and untold millions of undocumented results: The Briefcase Technique — now with NEW commentary.

Results of using this simple technique:

“I work for a Fortune 500 here in KC and have been kicking ass at my normal 8-5 job making peanuts for salary. I’m 25 years old and have been at this gig for 2 years busting balls. Promotions at our place are scarce at best and are given to top employees with long tenure.

With this invisible script glued in my mind, I blew through 13 interviews for 13 different senior positions. FAIL. But on each one, I refined my approach, redid my resume, tested my questions, and gauged reactions from managers. I created a game with myself on how many of these rejection interviews I could collect.

HR wasn’t pleased. They were wigging out saying that ALL my feedback was, “Justin’s a great candidate BUT…they went with someone else.” My 14th attempt blew the interviewing managers out of their toilet seats. Why: because I changed the script, used the briefcase method, job shadowed my potential client, wrote a detailed proposal with 5 things they can do TODAY to save the company $1500/week EVEN IF they don’t hire me.

Ramit, thanks for the extra $10k, 5+ weeks of vacation, and 6% 401k. I look forward to talking to you on the phone.”
–Justin R.

“I’ve applied your briefcase technique to get my current ‘dream’ job. It was basically a position for an Instrumentation Engineer and required skills… Networking and my grades got me the interview but I blew them away by bringing in all the documents I did in college related to control and safety. I showed them how I was technically competent and they bought it. They were totally fascinated. I beat out all the 20 people who interviewed for that position and was offered this job 2 days later.”
–Wee

“When an recruiter called me up offering a position at a global oil and gas company…Here’s where your briefcase technique really came in to play. I remembered the fact that whipping out this document in dramatic fashion instantly increased your chance of success, so I thought I would try it and let me tell you, the hiring manager actually looked shocked. As if she had never seen that level of preparation before. I received a call two hours later saying that I had gotten the job and they would be putting an offer together.”
–Aleem K.

This one technique alone will easily pay the cost of the Dream Job course 10x over the next few years — and more over your lifetime. And here it is, my gift to you, because I want you to take action.

And we have far more complex techniques and frameworks in the course itself, where we explain WHY it works — not just how to do it. That allows you to tweak the tactics to fit unanticipated situations, so you can dynamically apply them to virtually every conceivable scenario.

Now that we’ve established that standing out — or decommoditizing yourself — is important, we should talk about the TYPES of decommoditization. For example, we’ve all seen the guy who set up something like “TwitterShouldHireBrian.com” and ended up getting the job. Those examples are fun, and they can work occasionally, but we’re not being different for the sake of being different.

Instead, we’re going to be different strategically, so we sidestep the entire losing game that others, who submit their me-too resumes down the Black Hole of Doom, are playing. We are going to systematically study WHERE should be different so we can focus our energy there, while holding the unimportant things constant.

You do that by decommoditizing yourself, or standing out in the right way. It sounds so obvious — of course our resumes should be different! Of course we should use our personal networks! So why don’t we do it?

Standing out is hard. It’s actually EASIER to fail. We discovered something fascinating in our research: It’s easier to do what everyone else is doing…even if it doesn’t work.

Interestingly, we would prefer to do the same actions as everyone else even if we don’t get good results rather than trying something different. We use words like “How do I know if that will work?” You don’t, but you know for a fact that what you’re doing right now (sending out 200 resumes/month, including a mediocre resumes and writing down your “passions” on a piece of paper) is not working.

So here’s how to start.

3 Ways Top Performers Decommoditize Themselves

Top performers play an entirely different game.

When they decide to find a different job, they don’t start googling around to “see what’s out there.” They already know about jobs that are not even public yet, thanks to their networks.

They can send a few emails and bypass the entire hiring apparatus — designed to keep losers out — and get a meeting with a hiring manager.

Their friends will vouch for them, saying “You really need to talk to this person,” which profoundly changes the tenor of the conversation. Imagine being introduced as someone who the hiring manager “needs to talk to” rather than a random applicant desperate for a job.

They are not commodities. They cannot be substituted for another body to “meet headcount goals.” They have developed unique skills, and they communicate those skills to convince the hiring manager that they deserve special treatment.

STOP! Stop right there. It’s easy to say, “Yeah, maybe that works if you have ____ (elite college, 15 years’ experience, the deep baritone voice of Ramit). Don’t put up your own psychological barrier of why these people are different than you (the barrier here is the Shrug Effect). Yes, maybe 5%-10% of these top performers were born with rich parents or they’re naturally gifted. The rest of them worked their asses off.

Here are 3 ways that top performers decommoditize themselves.

1. Use specificity to stand out. This is one of the first lessons that led me to develop the “Nod and Shrug Fallacy.” When you say “get specific,” everyone nods and shrugs — yeah yeah Ramit, I got it — but nobody actually does it.

For example, if I asked you right now, “What’s your Dream Job?” what would you say? 95% of us would say something like this: “I’m looking for a job that’s challenging and rewarding…something that lets me really make an impact…I like to work with people.” Yes, I like to breathe oxygen too.

A top performer will say:

  • “I’m looking for a position as an Inside Sales Associate at a social networking company in San Francisco.”
  • “I’m interested in becoming a Development Manager at a women’s issues nonprofit in Washington DC.

See the difference? When you get specific, you don’t make the busy person do your work for you. YOU do the work — you don’t wait for someone else to find your Dream Job for you. And once you can be this specific, you can go to your network and ask for their help in locating connections to these companies. In other words, if someone comes to me and says “I don’t know what I want to do with my life,” that’s a long discussion. If they say, “Do you know any sales managers at B2C tech companies in Silicon Valley?” I will introduce them to 3 within 10 minutes.

I’ll cover more of HOW to get specific on the Dream Job launch list. Interestingly, note that many of the things that people believe are important — for example, # of hours required at the job — turn out to be totally uncorrelated with how happy people are at their jobs. It’s like Moneyball for Dream Jobs. More on this in the course.

2. Master the art of preparation. Another “Nod and Shrug” area where people say, Yeah yeah, I know I need to prepare.

Yet think back to the last time you went in for a job interview. How did you prepare?

  • AVERAGE PERFORMER: “I spent an hour browsing their website and Googling around for news about them. I also talked to my friend on the phone for 5 minutes about what kind of questions he thought I should expect.”
  • TOP PERFORMER: “I’d already met with 3 people on the team before the interview, so I knew exactly what their challenges were, and even the words they used to describe them. I wrote all those notes down, then compared them with what I found on the web. Then I crafted my narrative. I invited a friend over — he’s a management consultant so he knows how to ask tough questions — and he came over to mock-interview me for 2 hours. I recorded the video and stopped every 15 minutes to calibrate.”

Sound hard? Good. Losers and whiners won’t do the hard work because, by definition, they are not top performers. That means people who spend 2x the time can get 5x the results — which is exactly what disproportionate results are all about. Yes, you will have to work harder, but you’ll get first pick of jobs, while other people fight over the scraps.

3. Get referred — by ANYONE. People love to talk about how they don’t have a network. I ask them, “Really? Who have you tried to reach out to?” They respond with a blank look and a shrug. They will die unhappy.

  • AVERAGE PERFORMERS: “I tried but I just don’t know anyone! I emailed a couple friends but they’re in the same boat as I am. It’s frustrating when it’s all about WHO you know. How can they expect me to know all these people when I’m just starting my career?”
  • TOP PERFORMER: “First, I checked my LinkedIn profile and sent out some emails. I tested 3 emails and the third is performing best — I’m getting a 50% response rate. I set up 3 coffee meetings for next week. Then I went into my college alumni database. I also mentioned exactly who I’m looking for when I was hanging out with friends, and one of them knew a director at the company I want to work for! So we are having coffee tomorrow.”

By the way, this isn’t hypothetical. Here’s one of my Dream Job Elite students sharing how he thought about networks differently.

”When I started, I was only applying to one company, my #1 dream company. Now I’m applying to a targeted group of employers to tighten up my application and interviewing skills so that when I do apply to my #1 company, I’ll be in top shape and have other offers in hand for negotiation. – I had no portfolio for applying to my Dream Job. After getting quick, specific advice from several experts though, I know exactly what to focus on in that portfolio now and it’s underway. – I started with a weak resume’ and no cover letter, now I have a tailored theme for these materials and numerous stories to back that theme up. – I initially had 0 contacts at my #1 company. Now I have 7 with whom I’m talking to regularly there.”
–Logan, Dream Job Elite graduate

Notice that Logan has used the Dream Job material to create a SYSTEMATIC WAY of standing out. That means he analyzes what areas need to be different and tests them accordingly. This means that if something is working — if the emails you’re sending out are getting you an 80% response rate — you don’t need to waste time changing that. But if something is NOT working, you have a birds’-eye view to know exactly where to focus your time…and how to change it.

”I used to stay inwards, trying to acquire more skills in a vacuum and waiting for the perfect moment. Now, I’m completely the opposite. DJE trained me to have an almost knee-jerk reaction of talking to experts and testing in the marketplace.”
–Chris, Dream Job Elite graduate

There are several areas of the Dream Job search that we’ve found to be very effective in decommoditizing:

  • The companies you target
  • The emails you send
  • The questions you ask
  • Your cover letter/resume
  • Your interview performance, including questions, answers, body language
  • Negotiation
  • First 100 days on the job

I’ll cover each of these in turn. But don’t wait for me for the answers — you should be thinking of these on your own. Ask yourself:

“For my resume/cover letter, what do AVERAGE performers do? What should a TOP performer do?” Repeat throughout your job search.

Note that if you are submitting 10 resumes per week, the first thing you can do is ask: Is this producing any results? For most people, submitting resume after resume is worthless. So is working with a recruiter. So is trying to apply broadly to as many jobs as possible.

But this requires being brutally honest with yourself about what’s working and what’s not. Only then can you make tactical changes to improve your results.

Why Decommoditization Works

It’s frustrating to hear person after person complain that they’ve submitted 20 resumes into a black hole, and “you never hear back!” But that frustration turns into sadness when I ask them what else they’ve tried, and there’s a complete lack of awareness about other options.

What? You’re saying there’s another way to get jobs besides randomly submitting a resume? I don’t believe you.

Huh? There’s a way to stand out even if you don’t have 10 years of experience? You must be trying to sell some ebook.

This isn’t stuff we’re taught. Yet it can be done.

“Reaching out to cold contacts has been the most helpful using the email scripts that Ramit helped me with. This has expanded my networking circle but more importantly, it’s set the foundation for my system. Now I can use it time and time again when I’m exploring different dream job options or if I ever want to find another dream job a few years later, I know this will still work. 27% response rate for EA position in a VC firm and 57% response rate for VIP hosts.
Annie, Dream Job Elite graduate

Some top performers are just naturals at these principles. Others study them, like I did. Either way, the results are powerful.

So while average performers are complaining about their job-search results, top performers are playing an entirely different game. They get responses because they don’t go through the front door. When they walk into an interview, they know intimate knowledge about the company’s needs and challenges — and often, they know the interviewer! Finally, when you combine all the different ways they stand out, their interviews and negotiations take on an entirely different tenor — one in which they’re evaluating the hiring manager as much as the manager is evaluating them.

To Do:

  1. What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific.
  2. What surprises you about the idea of decommoditizing yourself? Tell me a story. Really look inside yourself.
  3. Why don’t more people do this? Be specific. Think of a friend who hasn’t done this and try to get in their heads.

Leave a comment below with your answers.

 

Join the free Dream Job Boot Camp list.

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[…] of actions and their perceived impacts. He may come across as arrogant in his style, however, fine tune his advice to the point of self  confidence. Formatting and whitespace on a resume ain’t gonna do […]

Azam
Azam
4 years 7 months ago
Hi Ramit, My dream job is to work as a Java Web Programmer for a large company in Texas. Problem is I have a very small network since there I’ve lived all my way life in Illinois. If I do find an inside contact in a company I’m targeting, I’m not confident that I would be able to get the insider info and research necessary to use the briefcase technique every time. Would it just be better to forgo the briefcase technique in that case? I don’t want to look stupid and waste the time of my interviewer with lame… Read more »
Dan
Dan
4 years 7 months ago
I don’t want to sound like an asshole, and from years of reading this site, I just know Ramit won’t answer you… so I’ll just say this: Did you actually read this article? Your situation is almost exactly the same as Logan’s, profiled above. You should apply to other companies that you don’t want to work for, test and refine your methods, get offers in your back pocket, and then unleash what works on the company you do want to work for. Testing is what this entire site is about! And your confidence doesn’t matter. Do what research you can,… Read more »
Nelly
Nelly
4 years 7 months ago

I’m sure Ramit would say that if you think the proposal is lame then obviously the hiring manager will think so as well. Like the old adage, “whether you think you can or you think you can’t…either way you’re right.” Have more faith in the briefcase technique and actually BELIEVE in it and maybe you won’t think it’s so lame. You’re not trying to trick the HR rep. This proposal of yours should actually be worth something to them. If you don’t believe in it, would you expect the large Texan company to?

Azam
Azam
4 years 7 months ago

Thanks for the advice (I apologize for the newbie questions). It’s just the distance thing; I can’t exactly set up “coffee meetings” with people living in a different state. I guess I just have to be extra creative.

jack foley
4 years 7 months ago

Hi Azam,

If you can think on your feet, why dont you use this technique at your pitch meeting.

You ask the client the questions about his business and then give him solutions but above all, get to the core – get to what he really wants done – and you will close the sale easily..

But you must get to his pain.., you are in his office for a reason.., find out exactly what that reason is and then give him the solution..

Game-Set-Match..

Kyle
Kyle
4 years 7 months ago
Hi Ramit, 1) For me, I really need to decommodotize my initial e-mail contact with potential clients or people that I’d like to have coffee with. I sell products into the food market, so I do have a ‘targeted’ entry e-mail into each segment (bakeries, breweries, meat plants, etc.)…and right now I pretty much copy/paste depending on factory type. I really need to dig deep inside these potential customers to really find what makes them tick. For example, not all meat plants want to save money…some want to make sure they pass every audit and are doing things in a… Read more »
Maria
4 years 7 months ago

Hi Ramit!

That was a MONSTER post! I loved your tactics, they can be applied to almost any field.

Question: What about engineering positions where the candidate has to go through a technical interview? It seems to me that techniques like the Briefcase one are hard to apply in such cases (of course, other strategies like the referral one work)…Are there any tacticts specific to engineering interviews?

Irina I
Irina I
4 years 7 months ago

Cover letters are so 1990’s. Companies don’t owe anything to job applicants. Companies are just trying to survive and then thrive. As a job applicant, you have to show them how you will make their lives much easier.

I am on my 3rd job since college and my last two jobs I got through networking and reaching out to weak connections. I actually got rejected by the HR department of a startup and then emailed the CEO…and had an offer 3 weeks later.

Sonja
Sonja
4 years 7 months ago
Question 1 & 2 require a longer time to think about and get specific enough with the answer. I’ll work on that after work tonight. But 3. (Why don’t more people do this? Be specific. Think of a friend who hasn’t done this and try to get in their heads.) just screamed out to me. A friend of mine said one of the things she wanted to do different in 2012 is score her dream job. (sound familiar?) So I pointed her to this website and said, read that for 3 weeks. The answer? Hm, that’s a very long text.… Read more »
P. Hunter
P. Hunter
4 years 7 months ago
A) Networking. I want to network and provide value instead of the leech-based networking that actually comes to my mind. The problem is 1) I don’t keep up with people in my network, 2) I am not sure what actually consists of who is included in my network (such as hiring mangers where I didn’t get the job, do hey count? and 3) my current network is small and the people in it are people I have known for years but we share different goals (i.e. my friends are looking for jobs for the moment and I am focused on… Read more »
Karen
Karen
4 years 7 months ago
1. What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. I could decommoditize myself at work, but haven’t. Currently, I work in the branding and marketing department of a big conglomerate overseas, and most of the work I have done has been handed down to me: the project was created and needed to be implemented, so my role has been mostly operational. I could develop project proposals to a) increase our connection with leaders in the fields we are interested in (social entrepreneurship; technology; infrastructure, etc.),… Read more »
jack foley
4 years 7 months ago

Ultimately if one wants to get their dream job, they should spend every waking minute imagining what they will be doing… (with emotion..!)

This is a law…

Ultimately you will get it.. Events will occur to ensure you will get it, period..

Karen
Karen
4 years 7 months ago

Hi Jack,

I respectfully disagree with you: while imagining what your real job is like and being enthusiastic about it is important, that’s only one small part of the process. I think a huge (and more important) part of getting it comes from actually doing work to get it.

jack foley
4 years 7 months ago

Hi Helen,

of course you have to work for it
you make enquiries
you do the studies
you network with people
you ask employers
you educate yourself
you get experience..

Everything you do is to attain your goal…

you will get it.. – guaranteed..

Jennifer
Jennifer
4 years 7 months ago

That is an overly simplistic view of “the law” and seems to be used as an excuse to do nothing far too often. I have used visualization(what you would call imagining) to great affect in athletic performance but I never stopped training!

Ruben
Ruben
1 year 2 months ago

There is a big distinction between thinking big and wishful thinking.

Alex Berman
Alex Berman
4 years 7 months ago
The most important place to stop being a commodity would be the first 100 days on the job. Once you ace the interview, it’s imperative that you can actually do what they need you to. I want to be an account executive at a large ad firm in NYC, so in the first 100 days I would need to pull in and secure more clients than anyone else. The most surprising part of this post was when you mentioned knowing the interviewer before it actually started. Also, I love the specificity of all these tactics. I took the seven areas… Read more »
jack foley
4 years 7 months ago

Why overcomplicate things in life?

Decide what you want and go after it like there’s no tomorrow

as long as you dont quit, you’ll get it..

Are you questioning this law?

Benquo
Benquo
4 years 7 months ago

I need to be building a better network in my current field. I’m actually one of the very few experts in property appraisal data, which will become very relevant to banks in the next few years now that they all have to collect it, but I don’t have the contacts I’d need to make an easy lateral transfer.

I also don’t have a good handle on exactly what (if anything) they think they need in that field, to make the “I can solve your problems” pitch.

cliff samuels jr
cliff samuels jr
4 years 7 months ago

Since you are an expert, use that to your advantage and show the banking industry in your area how you could be a invaluable asset to them.

Jenny Berger
Jenny Berger
4 years 7 months ago
“What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific.” Networking, I think, is the most important. Most of the interviews I’ve gotten in my current career have come through connections of varying degrees of strength. But I’ve historically had a strong aversion to putting myself out there, actively getting to know people. Partly this is due to my personality — I like being the one sought, not the seeker. But mostly it’s due to my ineptitude in approaching effectively. I think I’m getting a little better… Read more »
David
David
4 years 7 months ago
1) The most important area I could decommoditize myself myself is with my network. I have a close circle of friends, but I have an invisible script about the need for “separation” of work and social lives, so I feel like I have a wall up between my close friends and my network. I spend almost no time on my professional network because I view them as less important (and less fun) than my close friends — when they are actually probably just as important. Right now, networking for me is very much only-when-I-have-to. I’m also in a field that… Read more »
Alex Berman
Alex Berman
4 years 7 months ago
1) The companies you target What do AVERAGE performers do? Average performers just choose from what’s available on monster.com. They don’t look at which specific companies they want to work for. What should a TOP performer do? Be specific. A top performer knows what job they want and the companies they want to work for. They ask their friends for company recommendations, Google for companies in the city they’re looking for, and read through potential firm’s websites to make sure they have a good culture fit. 2) The emails you send What do AVERAGE performers do? Average performers use the… Read more »
Lewis Howes
4 years 7 months ago

this strategy is GOLDEN!

As a business owner I hate having to train someone and spend more time showing someone how to get things done when all I want to do is hire someone to get things done faster.

If someone came to me with a proposal of all the things they’d work on the help me grow my business, and they documented how much time it would take for each task… it would be hard NOT to hire them.

Ashley N
4 years 7 months ago
Right now I have been using Ramit’s technique to find my next dream job. I have it narrowed down to several specific descriptions of what I want to do and at what type of company I want to work at. The geographic location has been set and now I am working on a few versions of cover letters/e-mails to send out to weak network ties in order to get my foot in the door at a company. I do not have a #1 dream company that I am targeting, but I think the idea of testing different types of e-mails… Read more »
eugene
eugene
4 years 7 months ago

Don’t be the tablesalt. Be the pink Himalayan salt in the grinder bottle.

Adrian
Adrian
4 years 7 months ago
Hey Ramit, The most important place that I can de-commoditize myself would be in the initial intro. I feel that when I first meet people, I’m a little bashful to lay down all my different skills in a list to hold their attention so they’ll keep interested in me—and cold-hit e-mails, I’m no good at. I play it real safe when reaching out to people, and you’re right: low success rate. De-commoditizing myself has probably been the most important lesson I’ve learned from you. I realize that while I do have a lot of different skills, I am honestly a… Read more »
Bunny
Bunny
4 years 7 months ago
Hi Ramit, Now don’t laugh. But my dream job is to be an business etiquette instructor and adviser. However it requires privatized instruction that I can’t afford just yet. I’m a bit out of your age demographics at 54 but everything you teach applies to any age. To decommoditize myself is simply using who I know instead of what I know. If I don’t know the person I need, find someone that does. I have moved to a new town in a different state and for the last year have been slowly seeking out people with connections I will need… Read more »
Terri
Terri
4 years 7 months ago

Bunny – why would he laugh? I see people at my office all the time who could use a refresher from someone like you. These instructors are also valued as speakers to professional organizations like the AICPA, FPA, etc. to do “lunch and learn” meetings. Young employees especially can benefit from tips to help ease their way into interactions with older corporate officers and clients. Rock your dream, Bunny, don’t downplay it!

Best, Terri

Celeste
Celeste
4 years 7 months ago
1. I definitely need to work on actively identifying and leveraging my network but the foremost priority to decommoditize myself is increasing specificity. All my other efforts have largely been wasted because up till now, I’ve been lacking the level of specificity regarding my dream job. I knew I wanted to be in HR, perhaps eventually pursuing a degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology but that was about it. I am excited about researching the industry/field to really hone in on what my dream job is. What suggestions do you have for reaching out to contacts in this initial phase of… Read more »
Ilan
Ilan
4 years 7 months ago
1. The most important area where I could decommodotize myself: Is in the questions I ask. I realized that I have always been focused on trying to keep talking and talking and that really people really WANT to be deeply UNDERSTOOD, whether it’s a hiring manager, a client, a friend it doesn’t matter, it’s universal. One key to this is asking good questions, listening and then asking EVEN better questions. 2. I’m so surprised at myself for the average performer mindset, entitlement and fears that has been holding me back for YEARS. It always seems easier to complain and blame… Read more »
Stevi
4 years 7 months ago

Hello Ramit,
I love your perspective and your advice has been spot on! I truly can’t wait to try some of these techniques in my life and my job search.
I am currently job searching in a city in California while I am still living in Oregon working at my current job, what recommendations do you have to reach out to those in the field of my choice and network when I am so far away?

Kasey
Kasey
4 years 7 months ago
1) The most important area where I could decommoditize myself is in building my social network. I know a natural one is there that is always useful but to truly end up where I really want to, I am going actively seek out the most important connections that can help me achieve my end result. 2) What surprises me about the idea of decommoditizing yourself is that specific advice on the most useful job hunting tactics is never recommended by anyone. Is that because it is hard work and the mass majority of people are just not willing to put… Read more »
Nita
Nita
4 years 7 months ago
1) Joining Linkedin.com. The ability to privately and/or public share information about you, your expertise, your background, testimonials about why you’re the best at what you do, and who you know (and who knows you), are all powerful assets. If you’re looking for networking opportunities and unadvertised positions, this level of networking is like having your own recruiter working for you 24/7. 2) When I interviewed for that amazing recruiter position (see yesterday’s post), I did some key research. I identified the company’s top issues and took a problem/solution approach. My proposal painted a picture of exactly what I would… Read more »
Kate
Kate
4 years 7 months ago
I am reading these posts so closely that I’m worried my eyeballs are going to get sucked off my face and pulled into the future — I CANNOT WAIT for the next installment. I am literally in the first month of a job hunt and doing a ton of these things: 1. Everyone I know got a holiday card or a note from me in the last three weeks, with some personal content and a mention of my ongoing search. 2. A handful of people who hire people like me have seen my resume and said it looks great. (Ha… Read more »
angela
angela
4 years 6 months ago

your #2 is totally me. thank you so much for posting. i am working hard at following ramit’s advice to be specific. psychologucally it’s difficult for me to present myself as an “X” when the “Y” could be an opportunity that I could take, and benefit from. I need to realize if i’m awesome at “X”, like really awesome at “X” (and i am), it would be the best opportunity for me. I’d be in MY zone.

thanks again for sharing.

sam
sam
4 years 7 months ago
1. I definitely need to decommodotize when making initial contact with new clients. I work as a stylist so I am usually hired by a photographer or producer on a per-job basis. They either call an agency with a roster of people available or they have independent stylists they have worked with previously. They can certainly have their pick. Since I am not with an agency I need to work doubly hard at ensuring photographers even know I exist. In the past, I’ve sent out emails with one or two images from recent shoots with a little blurb about what… Read more »
Carmen
Carmen
4 years 7 months ago
I recently emailed Ramit that I just accepted an offer for my dream job – I’m making a career jump from accounting to communications. 1 I got a job internal to my company, so what I did to decommoditize myself was to first email the hiring manager with a short email detailing his requirements and how I met them and asked if I could speak with them for 15 minutes about the position. I only got to talk with the HR person, but it was a way in to know what they were looking for in the position and I… Read more »
Jared Hall
Jared Hall
4 years 7 months ago
Here’s a story that illustrates the difference between average and top performers; In the “commoditized” world of professional pilots, jobs, qualifications and pay are often linked to flying time. The more hours you have, the more opportunities you can have. However, I worked with 2 different flight instructors over the last year, both early in their pro careers, who had very different approaches & results. The first was an ex-Sales Manager who was flying every single day, training students, flying jets, gaining new ratings and experience as well as successfully managing his real estate rental portfolio on the side. He… Read more »
Jon
Jon
4 years 7 months ago
The most important area where I could decommoditize myself is by immediately ceasing to apply for jobs through job portals and instead looking for another way into dream job opportunities by giving myself to a solid network. What surprises me about the idea of decommoditizing myself: it wasn’t obvious to me that it’s impossible to stand out if I’m always doing what everyone else is doing. Yeah, the cream rises, but it rises BECAUSE IT’S DIFFERENT. I’ve been a cup of milk in a vat of milk. No more. I think people are afraid of decommoditizing for a several reasons,… Read more »
Ashlee
Ashlee
4 years 7 months ago

Ramit, one quick question, how can we use the briefcase technique with over the phone interviews or emails? I’ve personally used it on small scale projects (like freelance writing) to get a higher rate, but I’ll be honest I just kind of threw it in there and hoped it worked. It did, but I really didn’t have it all together nicely like I should have. I want to have my “briefcase” more together so it can work better, but the things I’m applying for are all telecommute. Thanks!

cliff samuels jr
cliff samuels jr
4 years 7 months ago

The comment by –Justin R. in the post was a true real world example of your technique. It required him multiple attempts to get his desired result but with each failure he adjusted his approach until success was achieved. This is the real result a person will achieve. Only a few will get it right the first time using the Brief Case technique.

Pedro
Pedro
4 years 7 months ago
” What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific.” Ask for referrals. I hate asking people for favors, but need to get over it. ” What surprises you about the idea of decommoditizing yourself? Tell me a story. Really look inside yourself.” That anybody can do it. We’re not really precious and unique snowflakes, despite what they taught us in kindergarten. “Why don’t more people do this? Be specific. Think of a friend who hasn’t done this and try to get in their heads.” It’s… Read more »
Thea
Thea
4 years 7 months ago
1. I need to decommoditize myself in interviews and informal (networking) meetings. I’ve gotten my resumes and cover letters to a decent state, and target my job searches such that I get interviews for the majority of positions I apply for, but when interacting in person or over the phone, even when it’s not an interview situation, I tend to just answer questions and not be proactive about making my unique talents and ideas stand out. 2. I have never consciously thought that I wanted to conform to what everyone else is doing, but it’s amazing how pervasive (and internalized)… Read more »
Chris J Coleman
Chris J Coleman
4 years 7 months ago
I’m already working to expand my network and make connections in the geographic area that I’m working to relocate to, but at some point in the game my resume will come into play whatever approach I take. My resume had been worked on for several months before I even found my self “needing” a new job, but it’s still just the best I’ve been able to create along fairly traditional lines, so that’s something I’m going to be look at correcting. It surprises me that I’m already taking some of the steps that you advise for decommoditization, pleasantly so. That… Read more »
Chris J Coleman
Chris J Coleman
4 years 7 months ago

It also surprises me that I didn’t check my grammar more closely before hitting Submit!

Reader
Reader
4 years 7 months ago

Who would even hire the guy you’ve outlined on this page? sounds a bit overboard and stalker, reminds me of the guy who tells the girl he loves her on the second date.

Reader
Reader
4 years 7 months ago

First, arrange coffee meetings with 10 employees at the company you would like to work at, be sure to exchange phone numbers and send follow up texts, make sure to bring gift bags, tell the 10 employees how you can save their company 1 million dollars by switching cable companies, use the brief cake technique and pull 10 cakes out of your briefcase, rent a condo across from one of the employees each week, invite one employee to lunch every day, or just stand in your window staring.

Omari
Omari
4 years 7 months ago
What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? The most important way I can decommoditize myself is to highlight my amazing story. I have consistently taken risks, tried a number of different projects/jobs, worked internationally, and enjoyed unique experiences that my dream employer would find valuable. I haven’t done so because I’ve always assumed that PE employers want a formal technical skill set that I do not possess. I did not go to business school, I don’t have formal valuation/analysis skills, and I have not worked in… Read more »
Victor
Victor
4 years 7 months ago
1. Creativity – I’m really creative when it comes to finding solutions for problems. I thing this is my biggest strength but at the same time I find it to unimportant to show it. 2. It forces you to think about yourself and to think differently. If I want to decommoditize I have to figure out what I can do and what I can do better than most of other people. This gives me the opportunity to know on what I can improve and what I should present about myself. 3. When I look of most of my friends they… Read more »
Matt
Matt
4 years 7 months ago
1) The most important area where I could decommoditize myself: The more I learn about Ramit and his students, the more it becomes clear that I need to get better at EVERYTHING. If I had to be specific, however, I would say that I need to improve how I interact with people. I’m very good at what I do, but I can’t seem to make myself act confident about it. I have done no work to develop a personal/professional network, even though I cognitively understand its importance and see the value of Ramit’s methods, entirely because I don’t want to… Read more »
Pamela
Pamela
4 years 7 months ago

This is EXACTLY what I need EXACTLY at this moment. I have hit a brick wall in my current job and I know that I am under-employed. But I am so over cattle-call resume submissions, and I feel the need to not go the route of cutesy-poo in making myself stand out. (How realistic is it, really, to send balloon telegrams with each submission?) I am so diggin’ this!

Paul
Paul
4 years 7 months ago

I’ve been meeting people in my current field in the evenings over beer, trying to extract insights into their inner ambitions. I don’t seem to have any ambitions of my own, but what I hear from them is very pleasing. I find that talking to people regularly makes one far more ambitious than hiding behind a monitor all day. Plus, beer makes people loosen up.

No genius points here… but for some techies, this may be non-obvious.

Heather
4 years 7 months ago
Most Important Area: The most important area where I could decommoditize myself has to be in how, and who I meet with for coffee. Since I’ve been following your material for a while (probably too long to still be sitting here only slightly further forward) I’ve started actively approaching people to ask for specific advice with varying degrees of success. Getting to first contact is comparatively easy, getting past that to meeting up and continuing to build the relationship is a bit harder. I’m willing to accept that most of it is to do with my attitude and how I… Read more »
Dave Doolin
4 years 7 months ago

“Since I’ve been following your material for a while (probably too long to still be sitting here only slightly further forward)”

You’re not the only one floating in that boat, Heather…

Joanne
Joanne
4 years 7 months ago
1. What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. As a writer and editor, there are associations to join and certifications to go after, but I haven’t done those yet… Mostly I’m struggling with pigeonholing myself. 2. What surprises you about the idea of decommoditizing yourself? Tell me a story. Really look inside yourself. That I wasn’t already doing it! I thought specific action words were what this meant. It wasn’t! 3. Why don’t more people do this? Be specific. Think of a friend who… Read more »
AM
AM
4 years 7 months ago
1. As a graphic designer, it’s a given that I use the right side of my brain–the creative. My portfolio shows this. But so what? So many designers have good work. BUT unlike other creatives, I stand out because I think with the left side of my brain to break down problems. I ask the right questions to understand the problem. I’ve been told that I have a very analytical mind and one that can think several steps down the road. This combined with my artistic side leads me to come up with unique functional design solutions, ie, not just… Read more »
Stanley Lee
4 years 7 months ago
1) Doing the right preparations by taking the right people out for coffee, asking the right questions to learn about the organization, team, and challenges. Using their answers to guide my pitch in the proposal, theatrically emphasizing the level of preparation I show compared to the average. I haven’t so far as I’ve stuck to the invisible script keeping busy with low-payoff activities that feels good/productive, but yielding poor results and couldn’t figure out why running around different processes randomly. 2) What surprises me about the idea of decommoditizing myself: there is an option to try something different systematically on… Read more »
Peter
Peter
4 years 7 months ago
I am glad I have found this website when I have. I am starting my search for jobs and my future career and I have been able to take in new ideas and philosophies to start out on the right track. I know personally, that networks are an area that I am weak and need to improve. Sometimes it is a fear of previous awkward experiences that has kept me away from approaching more people, but with the knowledge of its benefits and the acceptance that I am avoiding it I can overcome it. I feel like most people I… Read more »
Doka
4 years 7 months ago
Hey go-getters! 🙂 #1 I really need some help decommoditizing myself when it comes to getting a REFERRAL! I am extremely curious about what you have to say about that in your course, especially for someone who is a total n00b to the industry experience-wise. Sometimes, I’ve met with friends and people i know who have the job that I want, but no one ever wants to RAVE about me. I thought “I’m not best friends with this person, but surely they know me well enough to at least say good things? Why isn’t this working?” Honestly, I feel like… Read more »
Paul
Paul
4 years 7 months ago
Great topic Ramit – thanks again. 1. When I meet people already successful in an area I want to break into/learn more about. I can easily hold general, friendly, engaging conversations with them but as soon as the subject turns to the work/business/field of expertise, intimidation kicks in big time. I’m constantly falling into that weak role of an interested but inexperienced/inadequate junior (regardless of our ages), feeling the need to earn their respect and listening. So I’m clear that I need to decommoditize in such networking situations. 2. The idea of knowing an interviewer by the time of the… Read more »
Kristi
Kristi
4 years 7 months ago
What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself? The networking emails I send requesting mettings & being prepared with the briefcase technique earlier in the interview process than at the moment of offering me the position. What surprises you about the idea of decommoditizing yourself? Having invested hours of research and practice in negotiating salary and knowing my audience, I was recently surprised during a working interview. During the interview, my potential employer introduced me to a friend of his as his newest employee before we discussed a job offer or compensation. He assumed I would take the… Read more »
steve ward
4 years 7 months ago
1) What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. Researching and contacting people, Not what you are thinking Ramit, I’ve NEVER thought about the company and it problems it never crossed my mind before you said. Then talking with people from that company were present or past to not only get a deeper understanding of the company (Is it a good fit?) but to also have a unfair advantage. 2) What surprises you about the idea of decommoditizing yourself? Tell me a story. Really look… Read more »
Purti
Purti
4 years 7 months ago
1. What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. The most important area for me is outlining all the problems that I have identified in my 3 plus years at the job. I handle a variety of tasks including online marketing (PPC, SEO, Email marketing, paid listing, web analytics), distributor relationship, sales reporting and analysis, attending 7-8 tradeshows annually, etc. I do everything from designing, implementing to optimizing campaigns. The problem is that I have too much tasks on my hand so I have not… Read more »
Holly
Holly
4 years 7 months ago
1. If you hadn’t said the most important thing, my answer would have been all of the above. An important start for decommonizing myself would be doing my research. My super extensive reasearch has consisted of checking out the employer’s website. I look at my cover letter and realize it’s crap. It’s filled with the same old lame info and phrases you would hear on a how to web page . No matter the position I was applying for, I’ve demonstrated little knowledge of any company’s inner workings. Like you said, I need to actually talk to people who know… Read more »
Belle
Belle
4 years 7 months ago
1. My most important area to stand out is in flaunting my expertise and talents. I’m getting better at it, so it doesn’t feel so foreign. I’ve actually worked with a drama coach for this part. Funny in retrospect. I now know that “I’ve been trying to figure out” how to approach people with my proposals without coming off too aggressively, passively, or conceitedly. (That is, for the people whose opinions matter to me.) Too much thinking, not enough action. The people I’ve pitched my proposals to have been receptive and interested, though. My fear stems from coming off like… Read more »
Kat
Kat
4 years 7 months ago
1) I want to decommoditize my leadership skills. In the opportunities I’ve had to be a supervisor, I believe I’ve done a good job. However, I haven’t gotten the positions I’ve wanted. I need to figure out what my bosses want for the next supervisor and fill that need for them. 2) When you decommoditze yourself, it niches down your suitable jobs. I’m not saying this is a bad thing–it means you’re going to be perfect for some jobs, but obviously a misfit at others. 3) I looked over a resume for a very talented friend. Great GPA, several years… Read more »
Mark
Mark
4 years 7 months ago
ONE Need to break down my ideal job role to specifics, to a point at which can either start the company myself, or start researching / applying to suitable companies. Also, as Heather and Dave say above, whilst all this advice is unbelievably useful, I need to accept that there will always be something to refine. Therefore I need to start trying these techniques out on companies who are near, but not quite my dream job. Build up a portfolio of offers, emails, rejections, failures. Practice. Then when I finally decide where I want to be I will have some… Read more »
Arti K
Arti K
4 years 7 months ago
1. The most important area where I can decommoditize myself is informational interviews and initial contact emails. I am actually not worried about it though – now that I’ve made the connection (see #2), I can’t help but notice opportunities to decommoditize myself. 2. What surprises me most about this is (face-palm moment) I have been decommoditizing myself at work for YEARS and didn’t think to make the logical jump that something needed to be done about my job search process as well. I followed the generic advice doled out by career centers to hundreds of thousands of new graduates,… Read more »
Tim Starchuk
4 years 7 months ago

1. I coud make my self send out by using my network to find out the companies issues before I walk in. This is something I have never considered.
2. What suprises me is that there are things that make me stand out from the crowd but I don’t think of myself as different. This mode of thinking makes me the same as everyone else.
3. People don’t think of doing something else because this is what they are taught and assume that it is the only option for them.

Mike Graf
Mike Graf
4 years 7 months ago
#1. Decommoditization in the Software Development industry is tricky. But heres a quick action list: 1) Identify a spot where you dont qualify for the job you want (you may want to make a big list and takle these as you go) . 2) Read a book on the subject. 3) Work on a project related to the subject (ex: if you want to get a job with Ruby on Rails, then write a site of some form in that framework). 4) Advertise what you’ve done in your blog and github account. Now heres the tricky part. It can become… Read more »
Joseph
Joseph
4 years 7 months ago
1) The most important area where I could decommoditize myself would be on how I can present myself as someone who can solve their problems. I want to go into an interview offering a solution, not simply looking for a job.I haven’t taken anyone out to coffee to talk about the specific problems they face in preparation for an interview. From what I read in your blog, taking the words out of their mouths is one of the most effective ways to get noticed. 2) I’m a very private guy, so I have trouble showing others what makes me unique.… Read more »
Gary
Gary
4 years 7 months ago
1. To stop relying on others to find opportunities for me, while I passively sit back (this applies to both opps at my current company, as well as “external” ops). I’ve typically relied on recruiters to find positions for me (externally). At my current company, I’ve not made the effort to 1) Determine and find my dream job 2) Meet the people in that group/position for coffee to pick their brains and find out more about the position. And 3) GET THE POSITION (blow the hiring manager away). I’ve supposedly been tagged as a “high-performer” at work, but I’m not… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
4 years 7 months ago
1. Most important area to decommoditize myself: Establishing credibility in the field of my new career is most important at this point. I have to help my new clients understand why they need MY services and not just someone else who might be similar to me. 2. What surprises me about decommoditizing myself: What surprises me the most is that I’m having a hard time buying it. There are a lot of people that are similar to me. I actually just quit my dream job. I was a Kindergarten teacher and that is exactly what I went to school to… Read more »
John Garvens
4 years 7 months ago
1. Stop applying for jobs on websites. Period. I took the concepts that you mentioned in your first DJE video and APPLIED THEM. Now, I have an amazing job that’s a helluva lot of fun. Fun? Work? Yes! The big “Aha!” moment for me was when my friend asked me if I would be interested in this job. I DID NOTHING. My friend did all the work. He recommended me to the owner. He told me what the owners concerns were because they are good friends. He told the owner that I was the best choice. The only thing that… Read more »
Bradley C
Bradley C
4 years 7 months ago
What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. My basic approach towards working needs to be decommoditized, so I will start with my current job. After coming in with expectations of being able to make an impact, I’ve gotten buried in the day to day grind and lost my vision of being a stand out employee and I have definitely settled for being ‘just a normal clock puncher.’ I’m not fond of my job, but at the moment I have the idea that if I… Read more »
chaos
4 years 7 months ago
Ramit, I work in a top Indian law firm as a junior associate – its one of the best jobs in the country for graduating lawyers. I managed to decommoditize myself during the interviews for my first job when I was in college – and I had 100% success rate. But now I am stuck – because I cant think what is the next job that is not a natural progression of career but something higher to aspire for. What is the area I can decommoditize myself at this point? on my expertise and authority – since I am young… Read more »
Ariel
Ariel
4 years 7 months ago
1. I’m in college right now, and so there are loads of opportunities for me to build a network–professors of my classes, my work study boss, my advisors. I need to explore these opportunities while I have such a clear chance to do so, stop worrying about doing “alright” in classes and start making efforts to make my work positively stand out. Visit during office hours, ask questions about my work before I turn it in–make myself a familiar face. 2. What surprises me about decommoditizing myself is that the more I think about it, the less insurmountable my supposed… Read more »
Sonja
Sonja
4 years 7 months ago
1. What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. I’m happy with my job, so I don’t necessarily care about how recruitment officers see me. However as a consultant within a large firm I am currently a commodity. When a project comes up the planning staff will pick out some people to assign to the project. Based on.. Based on what really? Availability and a little bit of fit with the project. But mostly just a warm body and an adequate mind. Right now, I’m… Read more »
moom
4 years 7 months ago

I’d never heard of a QR code till today and I ended up reading it twice today. Of course I’ve seen them. I wouldn’t know what to do with it…

L
L
4 years 7 months ago
1) What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. One major area I think I could be putting in a lot more work to stand out from others would be in my current job. I am in the project management field and I know I could put in more effort to do a better job, but I just don’t. Also, when meeting people that could potentially be part of my network to find my Dream Job, I tend to take the more passive stand, which… Read more »
dhani b
4 years 7 months ago
1. I am a photographer and I have to emphasise more my ability to create studio quality images on location shots with a combination of compositing skills in Photoshop. 2. I know I have a skill set that few photographers have, but it is hard for people to see that just looking at my photos. I have to verbalise this with specific stories. 3. I think that deep down, people are afraid to be happy and live to the fullest, and it is because it requires more work. What is easier, working out and living healthy or sitting on the… Read more »
Dave E
Dave E
4 years 7 months ago
#1  I should be more ruthless in eliminating the kinds of jobs for which I’m really not a good fit, but I like to believe I would be good at. I keep thinking I need to improve abilities or character first before I’ll be ready to qualify for the job I want. #2 biggest surprise? The difference between being a player and sincere. I’ve always thought sales (and dating) was skillful manipulation. But after years of whining and failed dating attempts, a few rocky relationships, I find myself in a happy marriage. How? Preparation, honesty, and persistence. In hindsight, I… Read more »
Val
Val
4 years 7 months ago
1. I want to stand out at my medical school interviews. It’s exactly the situation you describe, where applicants are a dime a dozen (hundreds vying for a spot). I have been struggling with how to stand out in a positive way, but I think the briefcase technique could work in this case as well. 2. I’m surprised at how easy it is to begin writing a document outlining ways I could benefit the institution I’ve applied to, and that I hadn’t thought of having that with me in the interview before. It’s like I had a script that said… Read more »
Galen
Galen
4 years 7 months ago
I’ve heard the briefcase technique mentioned a gazillion and seven times but never known what it was, thank you for reposting it! Every time it’s mentioned is to laud its effectiveness, but never to criticize it as BS. (1) Chase Jarvis has said over and over in his videos and blog what it takes to de-commoditize yourself as an artist, and what he says really resonates with me. Taking technical skill as a given, you need to bring your unique experience, network, ineterpersonal skills, and worldview into what you do so it stands out as something only you can create.… Read more »
Derek
Derek
4 years 7 months ago
1. The most important way that I could decommoditize myself is to get job referrals through my network. Getting referrals from my network could significantly improve my chances of getting to an interview by, not only standing out from the competition, but also getting opportunities for jobs that haven’t been posted. I know that I have a network, but I don’t know how to effectively get in touch with them. A system for doing this would be incredibly helpful. 2. Looking back to when I graduated from college, I accepted a job that was good, but not exactly what I… Read more »
Bill Seitz
4 years 7 months ago

Seeking a bit of clarification on the BT for interviewing for employee position at new company…

1. You do this at the *first* meeting with the person managing the position?

2. Given that even a not-yet-advertised position already has a job description, how does a menu of options make sense? Are you framing it as “yeah, I’ll do everything on that list, but here are the top choices of what I think you *really* want me to take care of for you.”?

Lucy Ra
4 years 7 months ago
Q1: MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself A1: Show to the current/potential employers that I am easily capable of taking on higher roles with more responsibilities, etc. Q2: What surprises you about the idea of decommoditizing yourself? A2: It seems hard to convince older people (hiring managers, etc.) that you are capable of doing more when you look at least a decade younger than them (and are). They look and you and say that you are really great but…need more experience…or some other small excuse making you second in the race, but not first. Do the top performers… Read more »
John Gallagher
4 years 7 months ago
1 What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. My learning ability – I could show the stages of List of Things for Sale with progress and show how quickly I can learn. 2 What surprises you about the idea of decommoditizing yourself? Tell me a story. Really look inside yourself. That I’m so unique already – I just mask this under layers of bullshit to try and “fit in”. I’m afraid to be who I really am sometimes in case it’s not acceptable, but… Read more »
Bobby V. Berry, Jr.
Bobby V. Berry, Jr.
4 years 7 months ago
What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. —I am not sure what to decommoditize. What surprises you about the idea of decommoditizing yourself? Tell me a story. Really look inside yourself. —It did not surprise me how well it worked. It is just I never thought about it that way. I have had many interviews following the Everybody Else path and got nothing for it, except stress and depression. Why don’t more people do this? Be specific. Think of a friend who hasn’t done… Read more »
Kelci
Kelci
4 years 7 months ago
Numero Uno) I never really thought hard about this, but I haven’t truly prepared for job interviews before. I’ve done the average performer stuff, where I Googled the company and saw their website. I never actually took the chance to talk with people from the company to find out any challenges to tackle. I’d like to change that, especially since it’s looking like I may have a job interview in the future. Numero Dos) It surprised me in your article what top performers do to network in an effort to decommoditize themselves. I REALLY want to give that method a… Read more »
Derrek
Derrek
4 years 7 months ago
1. Obviously, there are many ways to decommoditize (thank you so much for offering the short list of the most important ones. disproportionate results at work). Since I’m studying in Orange County, I want a waiter position at restaurant that caters to the rich-lifestyle-centric, upper-middle-class, two working spouses demographic that is so prevalent here. Everyone my age wants those tips, though, so it is ESSENTIAL that I decommoditize myself during the interview. I have to show the hiring manager how I’ve taken the time to research and understand their business’s biggest goals and fears, as well as the plans I… Read more »
Lynda
Lynda
4 years 7 months ago
What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. I feel fairly decommoditized already so it’s difficult to claim a single area as most important for action. Developing my network further is an area that I have not spent enough time on recently. I’d also follow as a close second with improving my resume’s impact and creation of scripts for initiating contact regarding my job search. What surprises you about the idea of decommoditizing yourself? Tell me a story. Really look inside yourself. The feeling of… Read more »
Daniel
Daniel
4 years 7 months ago
Years ago I went specific: I wanted to be a jazz musician and work in “that” particular school of Jazz. I started as a student, paying my fees, I volunteered to all the events organized by the school for free and each time asking for more responsibility (I´ve read Tim Ferriss did this somewhere). Companies are like governments: imperfect machineries were anything can happen (like unexpected guys becoming presidents). Soon I was the director of the school and ¡had to hire employees!, and read hundreds of boring resumes. Once in a while a musician would introduce himself: “Hi, I´ve heard… Read more »
Marcel-Philippe
4 years 7 months ago

“We use words like “How do I know if that will work?” You don’t, but you know for a fact that what you’re doing right now (sending out 200 resumes/month, including a mediocre resumes and writing down your “passions” on a piece of paper) is not working.”

Doing something over and over again with no different results. Thats the definition of insanity.

Wrong thinking here from the majority of people, sadly its the same here in Germany.

Whittney
Whittney
4 years 7 months ago
1. Resumes and interviewing. There are four law schools in Houston, all of which will be graduating new lawyers in May right alongside me. I need to find ways to make myself stand out from them, even though most have better GPAs and more work experience. 2. The concept that just sending out a resume and hoping to blow away the interviewer isn’t enough – in fact, that there *Is* more I can do. I thought I was stuck just sending stuff out and hoping, which left me feeling pretty helpless. 3. It’s hard work. It takes thinking outside of… Read more »
Sam
Sam
4 years 7 months ago
Call me an oddball but one of my invisible scripts has been that I always believe myself to be a commodity. Thus my lifelong struggle has been to push out of that: I have become a double major in math and physics, I frequent and use lifehacker to automate and improve my daily routines, I am a member of a circus troupe and, until recently, I have been in an a capella group. Of course the motivations are deeper than a simple drive to “be different” and I’m sure I’m not the only singing-juggling-mathematician, but I feel as though I… Read more »
Thomas
Thomas
4 years 7 months ago

Find companies you want to work for – ask VP, CEO, manager if he or she is hiring ‘x’ (job you want; nb – do your homework). If answer is yes, follow Ramit’s advice. If answer is no, enlist this person into your network and follow Ramit’s advice. No decommoditization via HR or online job boards.

Vinayak Maheswaran
4 years 7 months ago

I want to work on the briefcase technique. I like the idea of getting to know people in the team to talk about the challenges and to get an idea of how to solve them.

People are too afraid to try things because doing something different or change itself can be a difficult experience.

Eleanor
Eleanor
4 years 7 months ago
1) What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. I can design, develop, package, budget, fundraise, oversee, manage, understand legalities, create partnerships, am diplomatic and speak 5 languages. BUT since I have multidisciplinary experience and expertise, HR managers have told me that “it’s hard to know where to place you” because it’s hard to categorize. I was told to create a more skill-oriented CV and always end up feeling like I’m shrinking to fit. Since I’m not the average science or culture employee, oftentimes my… Read more »
Catherine
4 years 7 months ago
Hi Ramit and crew. How did I decommoditise myself to land my dream job? I sent out 1 application 1!?!!! I worked for a service company to a big 5 oil firm as a data technician really barely a librarian. The position was advertised in the newspaper. (Yes they still do that) and I knew the competition would be fierce so I took every key technical phrase they used in their ad and wrote specifically to it while citing job dates, budgets, money saved, employees managed, years spent doing it. The very best I could with grammar spelling sentence structure… Read more »
Eleanor
Eleanor
4 years 7 months ago

Very cool success Catherine – thanks for sharing this – gives me faith again that the key-word method is good 🙂

Lily
Lily
4 years 7 months ago
I think the areas of writing emails to get coffee with current employees of target companies, and developing knowledge of how to effectively use the Briefcase Technique are some things that would really help me to 1) Find those unadvertised positions and 2) To stand out during interviews, since I feel that I don’t interview well. I think more people don’t do this because of a misperception in the relationship between the employer and you. Some people think that by the company posting a job, it means that they are on the ‘needy’ side of the relationship and really motivated… Read more »
S
S
4 years 7 months ago
1) The most important area that I could decommoditize myself is my elevator speech and at my current position. I am insecure and I suspect that an undertone of “request for reassurance” is sneaking into conversations. I am addressing this by bookmarking the positive comments that coworkers make to me. Some recent ones: “You were one of my favorite people to work with” & “S has that project, so I know it will get done”. At work, I am focusing on obtaining assignments that have tangible results that add describable business value. I can then add those to my file… Read more »
Erik
Erik
4 years 7 months ago
1. What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. I think that specificity would make a huge difference for me. I have no lack of ambition and ideas of big things I want to do, but I never nail them down to specific things and sharpen my focus. This results in me getting big ideas and never following through with them because I lose that focus to something else too quickly. 2. What surprises you about the idea of decommoditizing yourself? Tell me a story.… Read more »
Thoa
4 years 7 months ago
What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. – In my work. I stopped trying to create original English lessons cuz I don’t get any reaction from the students, so I’ve been doing “normal” read-repeat-role-play classes cuz they’re easier and the reaction is still the same. But maybe it’s not. Maybe they secretly enjoyed the original English lessons more and are genuinely bored out of their minds now. Either way, I can’t tell. What surprises you about the idea of decommoditizing yourself? Tell me a… Read more »
Aaron W.
Aaron W.
4 years 7 months ago
1. What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. I have a great network but only recently began testing email scripts. I noticed I use a lot of weasel words and low competence triggers (even in my own head!) in many of my emails. I say stuff like, “I’m pretty sure I want to work as a web developer,” instead of, “I’m looking for a company that is ahead of the curve on HTML5.” 2. What surprises you about the idea of decommoditizing yourself? Tell… Read more »
Justin Mares
4 years 7 months ago

I have a friend who was interviewing for a position he really wanted. I told him about the Briefcase technique and suggested that he should use it. His response – “I don’t think it’s that kind of job where you need to do something like that”.

What do you think was going on there?

Mr.G
4 years 7 months ago
1. What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. I feel I need to do a better job on introducing myself and make my long time experience in my field stand out. I know I’m a good asset. I’m just a bad salesman of me. 2. What surprises you about the idea of decommoditizing yourself? Tell me a story. Really look inside yourself. I don’t know if it really surprises me. The concept of standing out of the rest is not new. However I am… Read more »
Janina
Janina
4 years 7 months ago
Dear Ramit, Thank you for sharing all this great material! I’ve been reading your blog for a while and started to build up my network. I even now get people to actively get in contact with companies they know or work with to share my resume. I had my resume checked by hiring managers as well as consultants and received feedback on small things to change, but in general it is evaluated very well. Nevertheless, I have not been able to get any response from the companies my resume was given to through another person. Therefore, I am really looking… Read more »
Kristin
Kristin
4 years 7 months ago
1) My MA degree will be in Asian Studies — what in the world is that, right — so I’m decommoditizing myself by specifically stating a concentration on Chinese M&A in the USA and US technology transfer in western China when I talk to contacts and design my LinkedIn page. What I’m not doing enough of is working out and experimenting with the story I use to explain why I don’t have an economics or MBA degree. I know that I’ve been studying economics as part of my degree and working with economic analysts both through internships and in my… Read more »
Omar H
Omar H
4 years 7 months ago
1. I definitely need to redo my resume, and think about how to word and structure it to decommoditize myself. Specifically, I need to figure out how to word and structure my work experience that tells a better story and explains my career transitions. 2. I am surprised that I already knew about decommoditizing myself and doing the preparation to stand out from other applicants, YET I STILL don’t take the time to do it. When I see a a job opening that fits my search criteria I immediately send off my resume without looking to get in through the… Read more »
ana olar
ana olar
4 years 7 months ago

hi ramith.im so inspired by your site.i wish that there can be an example for nurses like me.in the philippines there are many nurse graduates and all of us end up to work as VOLUNTEERS and worst,we have to actually pay them to allow us gain an experience.i really want to learn more so that i can make this hospitals kneel before me.:-)

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[…] doing the important things is more difficult. Cultivating a network, managing our finances, really discovering what we love […]

Jonathan
4 years 7 months ago

Really excellent article. And it is actually very hard to stand out, especially in a post credit crunch society where employers can cherry pick the best employees, you make some excellent suggestions.

Jaime
Jaime
4 years 7 months ago
I need to be a better networker to the point where I can connect people with others that can help. If someone needs a hand, I want the first thing to pop into their head to be “Jaime probably knows someone that can help with that.” And I want that reputation to precede me. I haven’t gotten there yet because I’ve failed at this a bunch of times. There’ve been a lot of instances where I wanted to connect a friend to someone that could help, but came up empty-handed. What surprises me is what sets a top performer above… Read more »
drg
drg
4 years 6 months ago
What’s the MOST IMPORTANT area where you could decommoditize yourself — in other words, make yourself stand out — but haven’t? Be specific. The most important area is likely during the interview process. My past experience, I do not believe I prepared enough based on what I read on this article. In the future, I will aim to get connected with at least 5 people within the department that the position is hiring for, and from there get 3 coffee interviews to learn their sticking points in order to draft up some ideas for the briefcase technique. What surprises you… Read more »
Ak
Ak
4 years 6 months ago

I want to be Film or TV Director. I work part time as an Extra, I spend all day applying for Runner jobs in Media. And yes Im aware I get bad results cos my Resume/ CV is terrible.

I will commit to making to it better, even if I have no University experience.

Sell Scrap India
1 year 1 month ago

Some ideal products are invariably coated over the internet. Some tips i do is to discover those people positive things to exhibit to opportunity seekers. That way I guide people today and that i feel good in this way work Sell Scrap India. Desire an individual beneficial living.

Shaquille
1 year 1 month ago
To answer the questions: 1. I can stand out as a presenter. I have a plethora of experience speaking in front of audiences and being appluaded for my poetry, speaking ability, and overall presentation (including Powerpoint and the sort). I never mention this on my resume, in interviews, or on the job. For some reason, I am great at acting and putting together presentation, but I never volunteer to use my gift. 2. I’m afraid of being the guy who is so weird in interviews that people just question what I am doing. I feel that I have to answer… Read more »
S M
S M
6 months 19 days ago
#1 Ways of making myself stand out, but haven’t: I have to relied to heavily on sending resumes into the vacuum of the black hole. I actually have a very wide network with people representing different fields. I can do much more in connecting with people. #2 What surprises me about the idea of decommoditization, is that it is accomplished by thorough preparation. I had a recent Skype interview with an organization that I actively pursued. I had a pretty good idea about the problems the organization is addressing, I talked to at least two people from the organization, had… Read more »
Sam
Sam
5 months 4 days ago
1) I have a tendency to presume ‘there’s always someone more qualified’. While that reflects a self-esteem conflict (believe strongly in my potential, less so of my past), there is some amount of truth in the job marketplace. The other side of the more-qualified coin is that there is no ‘perfect’ candidate, so it’s a matter of accepting the responsibility of making myself as competitive as possible while navigating the networking path toward consideration instead of the resume heap. I’ve worked on decommoditizing by focusing on jobs where my cross discipline knowledge (e.g. photography and policy) are especially valuable (in… Read more »
Luke
Luke
4 months 26 days ago
1) The most important area where I could decommoditize myself would be through sending e-mail. I have trouble getting responses to my e-mails, which is clearly an indictment on the language I’m using or the messages I’m sending. If I could improve my response rates on those, then I could set up more meetings and expand my network and learn from more experienced people. 2)What surprises me about the idea of demmoditizing myself is that I haven’t really considered it before. I have always done really well in school, and banked on that to set me apart from others. Essentially,… Read more »
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[…] also recommend exploring content from Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, and this article in particular (which influenced The Fly […]

nhiepphong
nhiepphong
2 months 20 days ago

I think if we want to build a great career we need a good job.Good job depends on your education and your job application.So everyone should know how to write a good job application.Thanks for this post.I am waiting for your next post.

ayush sharma
2 months 20 days ago

I already attended an interview the hr manager said “Do you have any questions to ask ?”. That time don’t even know what to ask. Anyhow, i was selected for that job. But , now i have few good questions to interviewer in the future. Thank you for sharing..

ayush sharma
2 months 20 days ago

Recruiters spend countless hours scouring LinkedIn in search of the high performers. Knowing this, you’ll serve yourself well to market yourself as a high performer, through your verbiage (think action words, accomplishments) and by having multiple endorsements. Want some? Start endorsing others—they’re bound to return the favor.

Rohit desai
2 months 17 days ago

really interesting many thanks for sharing appreciate the effort keep it up

Richard F Yadon
Richard F Yadon
30 days 19 hours ago

One of the best ways to stand out is to be sure your resume is RELEVANT to the job for which you are applying. You may have a lot of great stuff in your career, but not all of it is relevant to every job. Employers take a quick glance at your resume and look for how well you match the job they want to fill. If they don’t see a match very quickly they move on. Take the time to tailor your resume for relevancy.

Richard Yadon, CPC, CERS
http://mmsgrouponline.com/is-your-resume-in-a-black-hole/

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