In the movie “My Cousin Vinny” starring Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei there is a very funny scene at the beginning of the movie when they arrive in a small Alabama town from New York City, the dialogue for which goes like this:
Vinny Gambini: What are you wearing?
Mona Lisa Vito: What?
Vinny Gambini: You look like a tourist.
Mona Lisa Vito: What about you?
Vinny Gambini: I fit in better than you. At least I’m wearing cowboy boots.
Mona Lisa Vito: Oh yeah, you blend.
The need to feel part of a group and the search for common ground when meeting others is a normal human survival behavior. In every initial conversation with a stranger, you search for things to talk about that will enable the other person to think of you as a future friend. The question to be answered is: What are those things that make you just like me?
The problem is that it is one of the worst approaches to job search that anyone can imagine.
Whether you are doing your 90 second announcement or working on your resume, what you need to identify are things about yourself that make you unique. Blending into the crowd, no matter how comfortable it may make you feel, will work against your goal of being identified as someone with sought after skills that are somehow different.
What is it that you are an expert at doing? There is so much that is part and parcel of the routine of being a good financial officer that we all share, but what is it that you do in applying your personal skills that you do differently? Have you had more varied experiences than the rest of us? Do you approach financial analysis in a way that makes hard to understand concepts comprehendible by ordinary humans?
None of us have gotten to where we are by blending in. You only get promoted when you stand out from the crowd. What sets you apart?
Everyone has a driving force in their lives, a central theme that can “explain” who they are and why they are what they are. While it may be true that what we have learned to do and do well is in many cases an accident of fate and circumstances, it is still where we are in our lives. The question is how we might use this “strength” in finding our next work opportunity.
The world is looking for experts. Speak to the extraordinary parts of your career and leave the mundane parts as a given. It can only work to make you stand out from the crowd.
This is no time to blend.