Keeping Up: How career-seekers can (and should) face competition, part 2

Keeping Up: How career-seekers can (and should) face competition, part 2

Hey there, career-seekers! Nice to see you back here to continue reading our editorial series on keeping up with professional competition during the career-seeking process.

Speaking of keeping up, the next point we’ll be looking at closely has everything to do with how we’ve always compared ourselves to others. Read on, and see what we mean.

  • RECOGNIZE THAT OUR RELATIVE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES ARE TIME-BOUND AND LIKELY TO CHANGE.

Some of us react to highly-talented competitors in a healthy way, taking their caliber as a challenge to continue improving.

Others, however, will become discouraged and assume that there’s no chance of being hired when going up against very qualified people. Losing self-confidence, these individuals will try to look for other opportunities where the competition isn’t strict. There are two problems with this, however.

First, these people will never try to grow in terms of knowledge and skills because there is no longer an urgent reason – like the presence of talented competitors – to do so. They will be stuck at their current level of competence, which will not help them in the long run.

Second, people who avoid jobs with strong competition will almost certainly be forced to try for positions that are below their actual skill level. Imagine a person with both natural talent and experience in project management applying for an entry-level office position, because all the other project manager opportunities are full of very qualified competitors. That seems like a waste of talent, experience and skill, doesn’t it? Worse, the lower positions being applied for might actually limit the discouraged candidate’s options of professional growth.

So what’s the solution? Like we said last week at the beginning of this series, dealing with competition is all about mindset and habit. When it comes to lack of self-confidence in the face of stronger competitors, it’s important to remember the nature of our skills and abilities.

Specifically, we must always remember that our talents have the capacity to evolve over time.

Learning occurs differently for everyone, in terms of both subject and pacing. Even within the same area of specialization, there are differences in skillsets among professionals. One might have learned a lot of things a more quickly, while another may have taken a little longer to do that. Yet others may have learned only half of the skills quickly, and half might have been difficult to learn. This is the truth of the diversity of the workforce.

What this leads to is the potential for either further specialization, or cultivation of flexible talents. Career-seekers can always choose to increase their competency in their chosen field, and over time they will develop into experts with greater mastery of their area. On the other hand, they can choose to develop other complementary skills that will make them more adaptable to various job descriptions.

Both of these choices will enable career-seekers to bring something new to the table, whether or not the other competitors are strong. There are even professionals who do both, mastering many different fields and becoming multi-disciplinary experts.

Which of these we do all boils down to our professional styles. We have to set for ourselves the kind of development we will be comfortable with, and then follow through. It’s a transformative process; we “become” the best-fitting candidate for the job. At the end of the day, we’ll be glad we didn’t abandon our potential to learn, develop and grow just because the competition looked much more suitable for the opportunities we want.

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