How To Stand Out From The Crowd

pizza with 8 slices and one has a bite taken out of it

I reviewed hundreds if not thousands of resumes during my 20-year corporate career, and during that time I discovered a simple yet powerful way to stand out from the crowd.

When I was applying for my first job right after college, I included an additional section at the bottom of my resume that was really intended just to fill up space. I titled it “Miscellaneous,” and it contained just two items: first, that I was a licensed bartender; and second, that I was a big fan of The Simpsons.

Almost without fail, every interview I went to started with either “Can you make this drink?” or “Did you see that episode?” And in every interview, I was immediately comfortable because I was talking about what I knew. (Side note: Being a keynote speaker is kind of the same thing; if I’m talking about customer experience I’m extremely comfortable, but if I had to talk about physics I would be extremely uncomfortable.)

But at first, I was worried if not a tad insulted. Why weren’t the interviewers interested in my academic accomplishments or extracurricular leadership activities?

The answer, as it turns out, is that they were trying to figure out if I was a person with whom they wanted to spend every day at work. They wanted to know who I was as a person, not just as a bunch of bullet points on a document. 

Today, on the About Dan page of my website, I share 18 random facts about me that have absolutely nothing to do with my speaking ability. For example:

  • I have sung the National Anthem with a group at three Major League Baseball stadiums
  • I once dressed up as Oscar The Grouch (garbage can and all) for a musical/comedy performance
  • My family’s old business, Gingiss Formalwear, appeared in a scene of The Blues Brothers
  • I have been the commissioner of a fantasy baseball league for more than 20 years
  • And everyone’s favorite: I once delivered a pizza to Michael Jordan

In at least half of my kickoff calls with prospects and clients, I get a question about one of the random facts right at the beginning of the call. And it’s fascinating for me to see which one(s) people pick. Some people want to hear about my encounter with Julia Roberts, while some people prefer to hear about my encounter with Mr. T. (And yes, some people still want to know if I can make that drink.) 

In any case, the conversation starts off with friendly banter that helps them get to know me better, to determine if they want to spend an entire day with me at an event or conference.

You may be thinking that you don’t have any interesting random facts, but you do. I just reached back into my life experiences and picked out some things that I thought were cool. You have them too. Here are some thought starters:

  • What was your first job?
  • What kind of pets do you have?
  • Where is a cool place that you’ve visited?
  • Have you ever met someone famous?
  • What is your favorite kind of music?
  • Have you overcome any obstacles in your life?
  • And if all else fails: Is there anyone in your family who has an interesting story?

The point isn’t to impress people, it’s just to start a conversation. These are like automatic ice breakers, meant to show the human being behind your resume or fancy website. 

If you want to stand out from the crowd, as a potential employee, as a salesperson, or as a business owner, figure out what makes you unique and then tell people about it. We do business with people we like, and sharing your personal stories makes you instantly more likable.

What’s your favorite random fact about Y-O-U? Click on one of the “Share this” buttons below and be sure to include your random fact in your post!

Image by Igor Ovsyannykov from Pixabay.