How to Leverage Your Unique Value to Get Your Next Job, with Kevin D. Turner

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Are you hopeful that having a large skill set will help you land your next job faster? That’s not necessarily the case. You’re better off focusing on the things that make you unique, says Find Your Dream Job guest Kevin D. Turner. With the sheer number of applicants for every job posted growing rapidly, you need to stand out if you want to be noticed. Kevin suggests doing a self-audit to figure out what makes you unique and building out your LinkedIn profile to highlight what you bring to the table. 

About Our Guest:

Kevin D. Turner is managing partner of TNT Brand Strategist. Its services include resume and LinkedIn optimization, interview coaching, and career transition assistance. 

Resources in This Episode:


Find Your Dream Job, Episode 308:

How to Leverage Your Unique Value to Get Your Next Job, with Kevin D. Turner

Airdate: August 11, 2021

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

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You are unique. Nobody else has your exact mix of skills and experience.

And when you show what makes you different, says today’s guest, you enjoy an advantage over other applicants.

Kevin D. Turner is here to talk about how to leverage your unique value to get your next job.

He’s the managing partner of TNT Brand Strategist. It’s a privately held consultancy that helps clients with personal and organizational brand strategies.

Kevin joins us from Dallas, Texas.

Well, Kevin, here’s where I want to start; what do you mean exactly when you talk about a candidate’s unique value?

Kevin D. Turner:

Absolutely, Mac. It’s really about, as we grow in our careers, we have a tendency to really kind of do everything. And over the years, people start to try to present themselves as kind of a “Jack and Jill of all trades,” and, of course, the end of that phrase is “master of none.” Nobody hires masters of none. But yet, they have some very unique things that they do better than anybody else they know that are in demand by organizations. They want to get paid for it, right? That’s key, and that they enjoy doing.

It’s really about getting in touch with those, and really bringing those into your own personal brand, so that people who interact with you, companies that see you, they are able to kind of pick up that uniqueness that they see value in, as well, that moves you forward, and that’s really what I think it’s about.

Mac Prichard:

Do employers really care about the uniqueness of a candidate? I mean, isn’t the hiring manager looking for somebody who has the necessary qualifications and can just get the job done?

Kevin D. Turner:

Well, you know that’s a big piece of it, is getting that job done. They’ve got to be sure that you can, and that’s really where you need to kind of focus this on. It’s not unique, uniqueness of yourself outside of work, per se. It’s really, how do you get things done? How do you solve those problems in kind of a unique and creative way that they can understand, and it gets them excited to hire you?

We always want to hire people that are a little different, that are a little exciting, that get everybody else on the team, in the organization, kind of fired up and excited as well. And that comes with that kind of, I think, uniqueness that we have to kind of rediscover in ourselves.

Mac Prichard:

I don’t want to belabor this point, but sometimes I think candidates worry that if they talk about what makes them unique, even in the context of a job, that the safer thing to do, instead, is to tell the employers what they want to hear. What do you think about that, Kevin?

Kevin D. Turner:

You know, safe in this day and age, in kind of the speed of digital business, safe takes longer. If you can stand out from the crowd, and you can show them that you do have these unique abilities, and they do help impact the bottom line- that they’re a positive, they’re business uniqueness, that’s really what they do want to hear, and people who focus on that find that they find that next opportunity faster, they’re more happy at that opportunity, and the organizations are more excited about them as an employee.

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about how to leverage your unique value during a job search. I know the first step you recommend with your clients, Kevin, is to start with an audit of yourself. What are the most important parts of that audit?

Kevin D. Turner:

I think, you know, there’s quite a few. But it’s really discovering, first of all, who you are as an individual and as a business individual.

Then, what do you do well? And I always say, what do you do well better than anybody else you know? That always makes that a little more unique.

And then, what do you not want to do? Maybe things that you were known for that really are not things you want to continue forward. You want to identify those as well because you may want to take those out of the mix.

And then, what do you want to do? And what are, again, organizations paying for?

So you really want to go back and do this self-audit, in that sense of getting these things down. And if you’re not good at that, about yourself, basically ask people that you respect, that you’ve had a strong business relationship with, and when I say strong, maybe it’s not always positive, but you can ask them, “What is it that makes me unique? What did I do really well? What made me stand out from others?”  And they can give you some insights in that process.

But it really gets down to, you’ve got to decide what that is, and that’s where you can then build really a personal brand. And I use that word build, in the sense of, technically, your personal brand is already there; you’re really refining it. You’re not building it. But in this sense, you may be removing some things, and you may be emphasizing some other things. So it is a build in that sense.   

Mac Prichard:

What exercises do you have your clients go through to do an audit? Is there a set of questions? And what do they do with the information? Do they write down these answers? What practical steps can you take to make this happen?

Kevin D. Turner:

Depending on the individual. There are people who like to talk, and they want you to help them through the process. You know that’s a certain type of individual. That’s very different. There are other people who are really good about understanding assignments in the sense of, “Okay, I can do this. I can make T charts. I can balance all this stuff out, and then we can have a discussion.” And so, just depending on the individual, depends on how we could walk them through that process.

Mac Prichard:

Any suggestions for listeners at home who might want to have these conversations with former colleagues and do this kind of self-assessment? What would you recommend they do?

Kevin D. Turner:

I think it’s really good to involve others. Often, we don’t have the same perspective that others may see us from the outside.

So, to start that conversation is as simple as that. It’s to make contact with them. Hopefully, you’ve been keeping that network alive, in that sense of you’re not just restarting this but reaching out to them and letting them know what you’re doing. “Hey, I’m trying to work on what is my unique value that I bring to the table, and I really respect working with you. Could you take a few moments and help me understand me?” And often, through that process, they’re very willing to help you do that.

Mac Prichard:

And how do you connect this work to your job search, Kevin, this self-audit?

Kevin D. Turner:

Again, it’s looking at defining, first of all, who you are. What value do you bring to the table? And what are organizations paying for? When you get those things together, you have a better focus on what opportunities might fit right. Where you’re going to do well with your own needs, as well as service those of the organization.

To me, people too quickly jump into job search by title, by company, maybe by industry. And they start just attacking, without really understanding, how do they fit? How do they help that organization be better? And so, part of that self-assessment is to know who you are. What do you bring to the table? What do they want to pay for? And then, how do you then package that so they understand it?

Mac Prichard:

How do you figure out what employers want to pay for? What kind of research do you recommend there?

Kevin D. Turner:

A lot of it will come through just examining job descriptions. They’re usually a little more responsibility-based, but you do get the essence of other things that they want. How do you fit into the culture? How do you interact? How does your personality work with others? Those kinds of things, you can kind of assess that as you read through them, and if you’re focusing on that, that’s a great way.

Another way, there’s a couple of things on LinkedIn; one of them is called Career Explorer. It’s still in a Beta stage; that’s available. You can go in there, and by title, you can search and see what skill sets fit by title, and then from there, (and you can start with the title you currently have if that is something that makes you happy now) but you want to grow from there. It will tell you where to go from there, what other titles people from this area transitioned into, and so they’ll also give you a comparables on skills. What skills do you need in this one? Do you have them all? If you want to transfer and become something else, where are the gaps? Are there any gaps? What do I need to emphasize? And so, that tool can be very helpful on LinkedIn.

I would say, outside of that, is really talking with people. Networking with people. Looking at positions and companies that seem attractive to you, that you can deliver for, and start having conversations with people within those organizations.

One of the best things about LinkedIn is, people who are active on LinkedIn are very likely to connect and communicate and help you move forward. They enjoy it. And you can tell who those people are by just watching how they interact on LinkedIn. To me, that’s a great way to begin it.

Now, if you’re like me, and I’ve had actually five, I call them evolutions, pivots, whatever you want to call them, in my career, where I had some extreme changes, based anywhere from companies shutting down, to me just wanting to do something else. One of the things I always looked for, if I was targeting a new opportunity, I would look for people who were like me in the positions or above those positions that I would want to be in.

And the reason I would do that is they’re more likely to relate to me than, let’s say, I wanted to get inside IBM, and targeted someone who started as an intern and moved their way up to SVP, straight through at IBM, kind of this straight corporate ladder thing. They would look at my background and go, “I don’t get you.” Whereas, somebody else who had a more creative background between different industries, different types of positions, marketing, sales, business development, whatever it was, but they had something similar, they would see you as somebody they can understand. But you are also, to them, kind of, proof it can be done again. So there’s an advantage to connecting to those individuals because they’d like to pull you forward to show the organization, this is why I work so well.

And so, you know, look for those individuals who are most like you in the positions that you want to be in, and then start networking, communicating with them.

Mac Prichard:

Well, we’re going to take a quick break, Kevin.

When we come back, I want to talk about how you put all this information together and begin reaching out to employers. And you’ve already shared one idea, but I want to dig deeper into that.

So, when we return, Kevin D. Turner will continue to share his advice on how to leverage your unique value to get your next job.

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Kevin D. Turner.

He’s the managing partner of TNT Brand Strategist. It’s a privately held consultancy that helps clients with personal and organizational brand strategies.

Kevin joins us from Dallas, Texas.

Well, Kevin, before the break, we were talking about how to leverage your unique value to get your next job. You took us through how to do a self-audit and research that you might do to figure out what employers are hiring for and how to find people who are doing what you want to do and learn from them.

I know another step you recommend to leverage your unique value is to make yourself attractive to employers. How do you do this, Kevin?

Kevin D. Turner:

Well, absolutely. And, you know, we live in a digital age, and often, employers are finding us before we’re finding employers, and, you know, that’s very standard. Or if they’re interested in us, in the process, one of the first things they do before they reach out to us is they go, and they do a look-see. They go, normally, ninety-five percent of the time, they go straight to LinkedIn, and LinkedIn is that opportunity for you to control what people see.

What do they feel? What do they see as the value you bring forward? And a lot of people filled out LinkedIn in just a haphazard way. “I have to have one, so let me get it filled out.” They didn’t really spend a lot of time thinking about the message behind it, both textually and visually. We are visual people, in that sense. Our brain processes ninety percent of the information visually. They always say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If it’s on LinkedIn, it’s there 24/7, either working for you or against you, and the processing of information from a picture is sixty thousand times faster than reading text. So one of the great things you can do on LinkedIn is bring in the visuals that support your message.

So if you want to say, “Hey, I’m a team player,” instead of saying team player all the time (and people do), show pictures of you working with a team. If you want to talk about how you build culture, don’t talk about building culture; show that visually. That can be everything from the background banner that’s at the top of your profile to your actual profile picture. You don’t want to incorporate others in it, but you know what I mean, and then, into adding rich media into LinkedIn.

And, you know, LinkedIn, to me, the way most people set their profile up, if you’ve got a profile picture, that was about the only visual. Everything else is kind of plain text, and it’s very bland-looking, and LinkedIn, I don’t think, did itself any favors by making the site, even more, bland-looking over the last couple of years.

You need to bring that visual flavor back in there, that excitement. And so, to me, that’s really important to bring those in, to bring in pictures that support, and to think about those pictures. I see often background banners, and they think, “Oh, this is my favorite picture I took. It’s me fly fishing in Montana, or it’s me at the beach.” That’s the wrong message. That tells an employer you’d rather be fly fishing or on the beach than working for them.

So you want to think about what are those messages within those visuals? You definitely need to bring them in, and when you do, that’s where there’s a lot of power in that.

Mac Prichard:

What other steps can you take on LinkedIn besides paying attention to visuals? What about the content on your page?

Kevin D. Turner:

You absolutely want to do a couple of things.

First of all, you’ve got to complete the profile. You’ve got to look at it in the sense that it needs to attract. And I always look and think about LinkedIn almost as if it were a book in a book store. Of seven hundred and sixty million professional stories, you’re one little book on the shelf. That spine is your top card of your LinkedIn profile. It’s got your picture, and it’s got a statement that should be attractive, it may have some small details. You want to write that up and visualize that, in the sense that it’s attractive enough to pull you off the shelf.

The next step when you pull a book off the shelf is you read the back cover. That back cover is kind of an overall view of what you might get if you buy into this book and start reading the chapters. That’s basically your “About” summary on LinkedIn. So you want to complete that, you want to make it attractive. You want to make it exciting. You want to give them some powerful proof metrics in that statement, as well. But don’t give it all away. You want to get them excited. You want to tease them. You want to say, “You know what? I’m going to get you all fired up. So you’re gonna have to go down and read my position pieces.” Which are a little more closely related to a resume.

But if you can get them fired up, they’re going to go find where those little bits and pieces fit in, and it’s a nice way to present it.

Visually bring in a couple of very professional-looking emojis; that helps the eyes flow and work. Use only segments of or chunks of information that are fairly small. If we put a paragraph in there, let’s keep it under five lines, maybe four lines. Because what we’re finding now is, often, the visit to your profile is done on mobile, so we’ve got to make sure that this is all mobiley attractive as well.

Mac Prichard:

In the first segment, Kevin, you talked about the importance of knowing what employers are paying for and understanding their needs and problems. How do you apply what you learned about an employer’s needs to your LinkedIn page?

Kevin D. Turner:

You want to basically show how you’ve solved their problems. So if they’re looking for someone to do certain things, you want to basically not just talk about it, but prove it. And that’s one of those things that people are uncomfortable doing. They have a tendency to use a little more adjectives or a little less proof. I say, take it all the way down to that number, if you can. I was talking with someone just the other day; they had come up with a system that saved the company a thousand people hours a month. So, you know, that’s a pretty good little bullet right there.

But instead of that, let’s talk about how much you would have paid that individual? And they said it would be about sixty dollars an hour times a thousand times twelve; now you have an annual estimated savings of. Much more powerful.

So, by looking at what those companies need, you can craft, basically, your presentation to complete those needs. Much like we talked about visually, if they need somebody who can build teams, tell them about the teams that you’ve built and what they’ve accomplished. Especially if you can get it down to dollars and then visualize that as well. Show them pictures of you doing those things with teams.

Those are the kinds of things you want to bring out, and that’s basically addressing your personal brand to be a solution to those organizational needs that you’re targeting.

Mac Prichard:

Now there’s a third step you recommend that people take to leverage their unique value, and that’s – and I want to make sure we get to that before we run out of time- and that’s to break out of the online application quagmire. And I think a lot of listeners identify with, as they send off the application, and they don’t hear back, or they don’t get the answer they want.

What do you mean by breaking out of the online application quagmire, Kevin?

Kevin D. Turner:

Right now, it’s overflowing. It’s too easy to do. They say that an average job that’s being posted now, and they’re claiming because of compliance and other issues, almost ninety-plus percent of all jobs are now getting posted on the internet. Within a couple of days, the average, they say, is two hundred and sixty-five qualified candidates will come in and apply for that position. Only three or four are going to get to the interview, and only probably one is going to get hired.

So if you think of return on application ROA, your return on application, just to get to the interview, is less than one percent. And that’s, when you talk to people, they’re trying to beat the applicant system. They’re trying to apply online, and get to those interviews. They’re really spending a lot of time to get very little return. If you wanted to get one call back a week to an interview, you’ve got to do, based on that, a hundred applications, twenty to thirty minutes apiece; that’s a forty-hour workweek, and it doesn’t really produce what it should.   

So there are alternatives to doing that. In the sense of, you can use, often, job postings as indicators that company is hiring, the type of people they’re hiring, the type of issues that company may be having. And then, instead of applying directly, find individuals within that organization, hopefully, that are within you own network or that your network can introduce you to. And if you can’t do that, locate the ones that you want to target and start building a relationship digitally online with them through LinkedIn. And I always say you follow them first, you watch when they post. Because you’re following them, it’s going to give you a nice real clean window of thirty days of filling your feed full of their stuff. Comment, build their process up, support them, and that should open you up to the ability to then send them an invite. Which is where you take that kind of digital relationship that you’ve built, and you want to move it into the real world.

And once you’re connected, “Would you mind having a phone conversation? I love what you do and what your company stands for, and I’d like to know more.” And open that up.

That’s going to get you farther and faster than just applying online. Hopefully, you can use them as a reference then.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, Kevin, it’s been a great conversation.

Now tell us what’s next for you?

Kevin D. Turner:

You know, I’m always active on LinkedIn. I’m always trying to give back as much as I can to help people. I would love anybody on this podcast who’s interested who wants to know more to follow me, and my URL’s pretty easy it’s

Of course, I do come up in all those searches for LinkedIn president, but it doesn’t hurt me any.

Mac Prichard:

Terrific. We’ll be sure to include that URL in the show notes and the website article about our interview.

Now, Kevin, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to leverage your unique value to get your next job?

Kevin D. Turner:

I think that the most important thing is to be sure that what you’re doing is truly you. Share the knowledge you have, help people comment, but use your own. Don’t take from anybody else. Don’t do what I call a drive-by comment, “Hey, that’s great.” Really add value, and make sure it’s your value and that it aligns with your personal brand. That’s gonna move you forward.

If you can do that, opportunity is going to come seek you.

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Joni Roylance. She’s an advisor, speaker, and writer in adaptive leadership and the future of work.

Successful companies invest in great customer experience.

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