How to stand out in a disruptive employment market

Panda standing out in crowd

There is no magic to standing out in a disruptive employment market! It is about simple things – knowing who you are, what your skills are and how to look for opportunities, according to the recruiters and employers speaking at Employability Matters at AUT recently.

Look at yourself

EY campus recruitment senior consultant Hannah Booth says the applicants that stand out when she is recruiting for the EY graduate programme are those that have sat down and taken time to really think about who they are and how they can portray themselves.Finger pointing at you

If you can talk about who you are and what you’ve got to offer, you’ll be much more interesting to an employer, says AUT employability relationship manager Alex Booth.

So how do you do this? Auckland Council graduate programmes leader Lacey Knight encourages you to ask yourself the following questions. “What strengths can I build on? What’s my communication style? What works for me? By developing your self awareness you will stand out.”

What is your why?

What is your ‘why’? That is a really important question to figure out, says AUT alumni Cory Bennett, a NZ Hockey representative and life and disability insurance broker at Donaldson Brown. “What drives you to be you?”

It was while working in marketing and broker support after he graduated that Cory realised what he liked to do was to hear people’s stories and help people. He also realised being ‘rich’ for him was going home satisfied with what he was doing, rather than having lots of money in his pocket, so he moved to Donaldson Brown, an organisation where he felt he could make a real difference for people.

Small image of balls in airOnce you figure your ‘why’ out, something will pop up and drag you in, Cory says, but not if you lock yourself down to being just one thing.

“You need a heap of balls in the air and to try to make the most of everything.”

Like Cory, Labour Pasifika Caucus Communications Advisor Thomas Wynne also presses the importance of discovering your ‘why’. He realised his ‘why’ was doing service for the community.

“When you discover your ‘why’, then you live a life with purpose, rather than committing to things because of other people’s expectations or because it is fashionable or gives you status or money.”

So, says Thomas, do you know what you stand for, including what you are willing to compromise on and what you are not?
“In life there are things you’ll be happy to be moved on, and there are other things where you say, ‘Actually I stand by that.’ You’ll decide for yourself what those things are, but remember whatever they are, they will determine your brand and how people perceive you.”

Live your brand

Your ability to build your brand is very important, says Thomas, and it is something you should be working on every day.

“Your brand is there in the way you deal with people, deal with conflict, with people that don’t agree with you, including the way you respond to comments on Facebook,” says Thomas.

Eat My Lunch founder Lisa Davis says it is really important to be transparent and you have to be sure you can deliver on your promises.  
“You need to be authentic and genuine. One of our driving values is actions, not words. We don’t just sit around talking about the issues, but we make things happen, try different ideas and learn. That is core in ensuring our business is moving forward and is successful.”

Whether your brand as an individual or a business, you must look after it, states Nanogirl Labs co-founder Joe Davis.  
“It amazes me how many people don’t manage their brand. You need to make sure your online presence tells a story that you want read but don’t over polish it. Look like a real human being that has fun - but just make sure that the things you are not proud of are not visible on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram before you send off your CV.”

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AUT Employability and Careers runs workshops throughout the week, including personal branding, job search, networking and LinkedIn profiles, etc. There are also regular presentations from employers.

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Employability Matters

The employers quoted in this blog gave their time generously during Employability Matters, an event AUT Employability and Careers ran online late May. Look out for Employability Matters in Semester 2 so you can catch full sessions and learn more about the workplace in 2020/2021.

Written by AUT Employability writer Angela McCarthy

Images - Thanks to Jeffery Czum (panda in crowd), and Tirachard Kumtanom (balls in air) from Pexels