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What's Your Superpower?

From Career Tips, 2011 Volume 9, September 2011

Last month's article "Are You A Linchpin?" was inspired by the outstanding branding / marketing expert Seth Godin's book, Linchpin. Towards the end, he asks, "What's Your Superpower?"

As I noted in last month's article, "The most successful are the Career Search Linchpins who figure out ways to distinguish themselves from everyone else and truly master niche marketing. Instead of worrying about their competition, they focus on what makes them unique to stand out in the crowd."

This comes down to figuring out your superpower.

Seth drew the analogy to comic books, where the lesser known superheroes would always introduce themselves by describing their superpowers. This made them memorable.

So how do you introduce yourself to networking contacts, hiring managers, and executives at your company? Do you present your superpowers? Do you even know what they are?

When you present a title, like "I'm a project manager" or "I'm a pricing actuary", you aren't presenting a superpower. You're just telling me what slot to place you in, along with all of the other people who are in that same slot. You're making me less interested in even hearing about your superpower, and 'tainting' it by whatever baggage I attach in my own mind to your opening statement. ("Project managers are too process oriented." "Actuaries are boring and can't communicate.")

When you tell me "I can work in many industries", "I can do lots of things", or "I have transferrable skills", any superpower you might have presented begins to decay. You are avoiding the laser-like focus that generates true engagement and raises your profile in your stated niche.

What is a superpower?

It's the project manager who is able to take troubled multimillion dollar projects and deliver them on time and within budget.

It's the pricing actuary who can design products that increase market share while still achieving profit objectives.


So what's your superpower?

This is the tough question for many. We're not so comfortable taking a hard introspective look and coming up with those, much less presenting them in public. But that's the essential component of marketing!

And many job seekers get beaten down by the frustration of marketing themselves and not getting the recognition they feel they deserve. They haven't learned to present themselves in terms of their superpowers, and lack of success in their search begins to make them feel like they don't have any.

Let me assure you, you do have superpowers!

Your past bosses recognized them
, and the colleagues who enjoyed working with you recognized them, even if they came so easily to you that you didn't. (For more on this, see Do You Know How You're Doing?)

You just need to get deeply in touch with your own superpowers, so you can present them with confidence. That will truly engage people, and start the upward spiral that leads to new opportunities.


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