I met with a university graduate yesterday who represented himself  just like everybody else. Now that he’s done school it’s time to look for a job to start his career. My sense is he wants to fit in, when what he needs to do is stand out.

I’ve known him for many years. He has a ton of great qualities and if prodded can speak excitedly about what he’d like to do. Yet, somehow, it seems he feels he’s better to fly below the radar.

I read a great Steve Jobs quote: “ we don’t hire people so we can tell them what to do, we hire them so they can tell us what to do”.

Here’s some unsolicited advice:

Instead of a passive, generic resume, and rehearsed answers to interview questions, figure out what problem you want to solve and then find the employer who needs the solution.

The line forms to the right for team players who are willing to give 100% – those aren’t unique qualities, they’re the price of admission.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you are that matters.   Give a damn. Have opinions, ideas, and arguments.   Be interesting and interested. Lean forward.

In my experience, the good jobs aren’t obvious. You’ve got to talk to a lot of people, get advice, ask, try, seek. It’s a full time thing to find a full time thing.

That all said, it’s hard to stand out in what often feels like a ‘whack a mole’ culture. There’s an assumption that it’s easier to avoid failure and disappointment if we pattern ourselves after what is deemed acceptable and normal.  It’s a trap, and if you look at anyone we celebrate as ‘successful’ – they rarely conform.

I’ve got great faith in my young friend. The future is as bright as he chooses it to be.