Ask A Coach: How do I distinguish myself in the marketplace and take my career to the next level?

Julianne Franke ’73
Meet Julianne on IrishCompass

If you are invested in taking your career to the next level (and we all should be), you need to understand the nature of the marketplace you are operating in, how you fit into an organization, and how you measure up to your competition. 

These three factors are key to distinguishing yourself in this highly competitive and digital marketplace.

1. Job Search Environment 
Whether it’s virtual career fairs, online networking events, or video interviews, the environment is digital. 
Pro tip: practice communicating your story and assess how well you establish rapport. Remember, “chemistry” wins over expertise in what employers say best determines hiring. Be bold and put your message out there online.
Pro tip: share your expertise on social media including LinkedIn Pulse, Facebook, Twitter, and industry-specific online portals.

2. Organizational Positioning
Do a career assessment to determine the three aspects of your best FIT.

F = Function. This is the “what.” Think strengths and functional expertise. 

Pro tip: take the Gallup StrengthsFinder and MBTI assessments to identify your strengths and behavioral preferences.

 I = Industry. This is the ‘where.” Think about which industries and types of organizations.

Pro tip: research industries and organizations online (e.g., Glass Door).

T = Things that Matter. This is the all-important “why.” Why am I seeking to have impact and contribute?  

Pro Tip: take a values assessment to identify what’s most important to you. It’s also valuable to get external feedback through 360 reviews and informational interviews.

3) Your Value & Personal Brand 

Your brand is both who you are and the value you bring. Companies want to know not just your strengths, but what you will do for them. After defining a brand message, apply it to all your written communications (e.g., resume, bio, LinkedIn and IrishCompass profiles, cover letter) and in-person communications (e.g., elevator pitch, 3-5 minute bio for informational interviews, formal interviewing). 

Pro tip: practice perfecting it with people you trust, including those serving as references, to gain confidence. This pays off when you share it professionally so it will feel natural and give you a competitive edge.

The “hidden job market” is more of a force than ever. Studies show that as much as 80 percent of jobs exist in a “hidden job market." So, whether you are actively looking for a job, would consider a great opportunity, or are content in your current role, it’s smart to keep FIT.  

Pro tip: the COVID climate presents an opportunity to prepare yourself for the next level by tapping into the hidden job market, as people are networking virtually and employers continue to look for top talent.


Julianne Franke ’73 is an executive coach and digital brand strategist who also coaches in the Notre Dame Alumni Association’s career coaching program.

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