Unemployed jobseekers routinely tell me that they have two concerns about their future. The first is about job security. The second is the fear of being stuck in a job they dislike.

About 30% of the people I work with are currently employed and are looking to change jobs. Their number one concern is job security. More often than not, they don’t like their current job and want to change to something they can enjoy.

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RecruitGroup reported that the 2006 data indicated that people would change jobs 5 to 7 times in their lifetime. So if a person begins their career at age 22 and works until they are 65, they would change jobs every 6 to 8 years.

In 2010, researchers conducted a study showing that respondents between the ages of 18 and 42 had held 10.8 jobs. That’s a new job every 2.2 years. It does seem reasonable that a person in their early career might change jobs more often.

These studies are siting career changes and freely admit that they have a difficult time identifying what exactly a career change is. This article sites the Department of Labor:

Career change statistics suggest that the average person will be making a career change approximately 5-7 times during their working life.

[However] with an ever increasing number of different career choices on offer, about 1/3 of the total workforce will now change jobs every 12 months. By the age of 42 you will probably already have had about ten jobs. [DOL]

If one third of the total workforce changes jobs every 12 months, then 3 years is the average time in a job.


What can you control as you manage your future?

I started asking questions:

  • What can we rely on to manage this many transitions in our career?
  • What can be done now to make these transitions as smooth as possible?
  • What are the factors that will allow a person to ride the waves of change and prepare for their future?

What are the qualifying factors?
We qualify for jobs with our skills, experience and education.
For example let’s say that a job posting requires a Bachelor of Science, 10+ years of industry-specific experience and other skills such as contract negotiation, supervision, and perhaps a specific software.

If you have these qualifications, then you apply for the job …along with everyone else that has similar skills, experience, and education.

Do you think that your 12 years of experience will be that much more impressive than the person with 10 years of experience…probably not.

So these qualifications leveled the playing field. You aren’t unique, you aren’t different and so far there is no reason for this company to look at you rather than the other candidates. You haven’t differentiated yourself.

The key qualifications are important, but they simply qualify you for the position. They don’t differentiate you in the least. There has to be more. There has to be something else.

What are the two differentiating factors?
Assuming you made it through the Applicant Tracking System (we get through about 80% of the time), and someone determined that you truly qualify for the job, you become part of an ocean of applicants that all look alike.

I wanted to know what caused hiring professionals to move people from the qualified pile to the phone-call pile. So I went around and asked them that question.

Factor number one:
Believe it or not the primary differentiating factor is your innate work attributes and how you use them to benefit the organization. It’s a combination of who you are and how you work that is then focused on achieving the mission of the company by promoting their values and driving business results.

Stand out

This information, presented clearly and succinctly on your cover letter and résumé will help you get a job. It will separate you from the ocean of applicants. It will identify you as a person who will consistently deliver value as companies manage change. It’s about who you are and your understanding of the company and their key drivers.

This is the information that answers the question, “Tell me about yourself.” It is how you should respond to, “Why do you think this job is a good fit for you.”

Factor number two:
You can control the people you engage with as you build your network. They need to understand your value. They need to know who you are and how you bring value to an organization that is beyond your skills, experience, and education.

When anyone in your network promotes or champions you, it should be about your value rather than your qualifications. Again, this differentiates you from others. It’s why you don’t have to talk about your skills, experience, or education. Those things have to be there but the critical factor is about “who you are.”

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Do you really understand your value?
Some people call this your Unique Value Statement or UVS. That’s fine. Do you know what your value is—from an employment perspective? Do you know how to apply it to a company mission statement? Can you demonstrate this value on your résumé and during a 30-minute phone interview?

If not, consider the Forward Motion Differentiation Workshop. We offer it as a webinar and in person, in groups, and privately. We call it The Differentiator!

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