What makes you unique? It’s a common interview question, but how can you answer it? And how do you find out what makes you unique to begin with?
Career and interview coach Dr. Kyle Elliott explains what a unique selling proposition is, why it’s so important and how to find what makes you unique.
Using host Jeremy Cline as a guinea pig, Kyle demonstrates an exercise you can try yourself to find your own unique selling proposition. He also talks about the different ways you can sell yourself in your CV, how to express to an employer what your unique selling points are and techniques you can use to stand out amongst hundreds of other applicants.
Kyle Elliott of Kyle Elliott Consulting
Website: Caffeinated Kyle
Facebook: Caffeinated Kyle
Twitter: Caffeinated Kyle
Instagram: Caffeinated Kyle
LinkedIn: Kyle Elliott
Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.
A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune and The New York Times among dozens of other leading publications. He is an official member of the invitation-only Forbes Coaches Council, a member of the Gay Coaches Alliance and a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).
What you’ll learn in this episode
- [2:35] How Kyle started his coaching career on Fiverr.
- [4:22] What a unique selling proposition is and why it’s so important.
- [6:18] How to find the jobs you’re most suitable for.
- [7:24] How to find your own uniqueness.
- [17:05] How to take your unique points and turn them into a unique selling proposition.
- [21:25] Ways you can sell yourself in your CV.
- [22:43] How to express to an employer what your unique selling points are.
- [24:25] Ways to stand out amongst hundreds of applications.
- [27:00] What to do if your skills differ from the role you’re applying for.
- [29:25] How you can use your USP to find the right job for you.
- [33:14] How long you should spend finding your USPs.
- [34:40] How to get comfortable talking about yourself.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase. This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.
Episode 148: What’s your unique selling proposition? - with Kyle Elliott of Kyle Elliott Consulting
Jeremy Cline 0:00
Tell me, what is it that makes you unique? It's a fairly common interview question. But how do you go about answering it? And how do you figure out what it is that does make you unique? That's what we're going to talk about in this week's episode. I'm Jeremy Cline and this is Change Work Life.
Jeremy Cline 0:33
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the podcast that's all about meeting the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. If you want to know how you can enjoy a more satisfying and fulfilling working life, then you're in the right place. One of the questions I've always found hard to answer is what is my USP, my unique selling proposition. I know that I'm unique, just like everyone else is, but I've always found it difficult to frame what it is that's unique about me. It's something that you could well be asked at an interview. So, I'm delighted to be joined this week by Kyle Elliott, who's going to help us to figure out what's our USP. Kyle is a high-tech career coach and mental health advocate and a trusted confidant of some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley. And one of his specialties is helping you to figure out what makes you fabulous and how to own it. Kyle, welcome to the podcast.
Kyle Elliott 1:27
Yes, I'm so excited to be here. Thank you for having me. And we're really covering one of my favourite topics. So, this is perfect. It will be a great conversation.
Jeremy Cline 1:37
Why don't you start by telling us a bit about your coaching practice, who are your typical clients?
Kyle Elliott 1:42
Yes. So, my typical clients are senior managers and executives in high-tech and Silicon Valley, and more broadly, really people who are incredibly fabulous, who are in these really difficult-to-penetrate industries, and they have this fabulousness, but they really struggle to own it and share it with the world. So, where I come in is, I help people identify what sets them apart from the hundreds or thousands of people applying to Google, Amazon, Meta, these really competitive companies, and say, once we identify what's unique about you, how do we communicate this and share this with recruiters and hiring managers. And I'm excited to help walk listeners through that process today.
Jeremy Cline 2:23
And what was your route into coaching? Because almost inevitably, coaches never start out being coaches.
Kyle Elliott 2:29
Yes, I've yet to meet someone who when they were five or ten, I was like, 'I want to be a coach when I grow up.' For me, it started on Fiverr. So, I literally charged $5 on this online marketplace for resume reviews, LinkedIn profile summaries, and this flourished from a college side hustle into this full-time practice, where now I work with some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley and tech. And most of my business comes through word of mouth. So, people would say, 'Kyle helped me get a job at Google, you should go work with him. Kyle helped me get a job at Deloitte, you should chat with him.' And then, it just kept growing and growing from there, and I discovered this love of helping people identify what sets them apart from other people and then learning to own it as well.
Jeremy Cline 3:14
What got you starting to do this on Fiverr in the first place?
Kyle Elliott 3:18
I was in college and just wanted to be able to afford coffee, and then, we had a Subway, a sandwich shop on campus. And I was like, how do I make money while in college to afford this love of coffee, this love of Subway? They had pizza at the sandwich shop, how do I afford this love of pizza? So, I was like, 'Hmm, I'm good at finding jobs, I'm good at writing and helping people, maybe I can do these resume reviews, write these profile summaries on Fiverr.' So, I checked it out, and I was really good at it. I got several hundred clients on this online marketplace, and as a college student, if I could do four or five of these an hour, that was 20 to 25 dollars an hour, really impressive as a college student. And then, from there, it just kept growing and growing.
Jeremy Cline 4:02
Awesome. That's an interesting way to start out and to try it out. So, regular listeners will know that I'm always looking to start with some definitions. So, what do we mean when we talk about a unique selling proposition or USP, when you're talking about a person or a candidate?
Kyle Elliott 4:21
Yeah, when I'm talking about a person or a candidate, and we're talking about their unique selling proposition or what I call their fabulousness, I'm trying to think of what sets you apart from every other applicant applying for a role. So, I often work with product managers, programme managers, project managers, those types of PMs are my most common clients. But really, any job seeker, when you're applying to a role, there may be hundreds if not thousands of people applying for the same role as you, and identifying your unique selling proposition helps you stand out. Because a lot of the people who apply for the role, they're going to be equally qualified. And you have to say, 'Here's what sets me apart from them, here's what's better about my approach or unique about my approach or different.' And your ability to communicate that is going to increase your chances of landing an interview. And that's your ultimate goal, to be able to increase your chances of landing an interview, and then once you land an interview, be able to increase your chances of converting that interview into a job offer.
Jeremy Cline 5:19
I think you've partially answered this, but what is it that's important about having a USP? Is it just that standing out piece?
Kyle Elliott 5:29
I think part of it is standing out. And then, the other piece is, the job search can really, really hurt your morale. It can be a huge morale booster, applying over and over. And I find, once clients say, 'Hey, here's 10 or 15 things that set me apart from other job seekers', that helps boost their confidence. So, they go into networking, they go into interviews, they go into the salary negotiation with a lot more confidence. So, being able to identify your USP also helps with the confidence piece, which can often get deflated when you're job searching. So, it's really a huge morale booster when you can identify your USP as well. So, that's just an added bonus on top of standing out in the competitive labour market.
Jeremy Cline 6:10
Do you find that it also helps people to identify roles and opportunity that they're suited for? So, once they've identified their USP, they can kind of use that as a filter for the sorts of jobs that they go for?
Kyle Elliott 6:23
Yes. So, usually, the first thing I do with people is clarify their target roles and positions, and then we clarify their USP, or sometimes clients are stuck and say, 'Kyle, I don't know what kind of roles and companies I want to target.' And I say, 'Let's look at what makes you fabulous, and then find roles and companies that align with that.' So, if you're really good at people skills, you're really good at influencing, maybe then we can go look at sales roles or business development or project management, where you have to influence people that maybe you don't directly supervise. So, understanding your USP can also help you just figure out what do I want to be when I grow up.
Jeremy Cline 7:01
The bit that I have always found challenging is the unique bit. Because frankly, I know I'm good at stuff, but I don't necessarily see that as making me unique or having something which is specifically, you know, I'm the only person who can do it. So, how do you find your uniqueness?
Kyle Elliott 7:23
So, today, I'd love to walk you through that process. And I like doing it and thinking of it kind of like a Venn diagram, and we can walk listeners through that, you volunteered to do it with me before we started recording, so I'm excited for that.
Jeremy Cline 7:37
I did indeed.
Kyle Elliott 7:39
What I like doing is thinking of it as a Venn diagram and seeing where there's overlap. And on the left side of the Venn diagram, we have a circle saying, what did you enjoy as a child, what did people recognise about you. And I like starting with childhood, because oftentimes, there was less pressures when we were five or ten years old. For me, for example, I loved educating, I loved teaching, I literally had a giant four foot by six foot whiteboard that I asked for for Christmas, when I was in fifth grade. Because I loved teaching a class or lesson plans. And then, on the right side of the Venn diagram, I like looking at what do people notice about you now on this other side of the Venn diagram. So, this could be in performance reviews, it could be in letters of recommendation, we're also going to do activity where we asked listeners now to get some feedback. And then, I like seeing where's the overlap, what stuck true for you from when you were five or ten to now a decade or two or three later, what stayed true all these years, and I find that overlap between the two circles to be your fabulousness. Because that's the deep down inside of you and hasn't left all these years, but perhaps we have to pull out a little bit. Okay, what's in there that stayed true all these years? If that makes sense, and we can walk everyone through that today.
Jeremy Cline 8:58
Well, as Kyle says, we spoke before this interview, and I volunteered to be a guinea pig to demonstrate Kyle's process. I'm slightly scared, but looking forward to it. So, yeah, where do we start?
Kyle Elliott 9:10
Yeah, let's start with your childhood, Jeremy. So, when you were a child, what brought you joy? What did you enjoy, what was fun?
Jeremy Cline 9:17
The thing that I always remember telling people I was going to do when I grew up was, I was going to be an author. I really enjoyed creative writing when I was at school. I mean, this is when I was like seven or eight years old, something like that. I really enjoyed creative writing, writing stories. For some reason, I took great joy in coming up with characters with ridiculously long names. So, you know, it'd be [ridiculously long name], you know, that kind of thing, which I vividly remember reading out my story, and I was cracking up in giggles as I was reading out this long name, and no one else was laughing at all. But yeah, I was always proudly telling my relatives, my parents' generation, that I was going to be an author when I grow up.
Kyle Elliott 10:07
Yeah. And what did your parents, what did your aunts and uncles, what did other people around you notice about you as a child?
Jeremy Cline 10:14
I like to think that they noticed that I was bright and also kind of quite well organised. A self-starter sounds like such a cliche thing to say, but yeah, I remember my mom telling me that I didn't really need all that much pushing at the school, I'd kind of just get on with it.
Kyle Elliott 10:36
You're motivated, it sounds like. Anything else that you really enjoyed, or was very fun for you as a child?
Jeremy Cline 10:44
I tended to find, certainly at school, most of the academic side relatively easy. Yeah, I mean, I suppose I was, it sounds terrible, I don't want to blow my own trumpet, but you know, I was a bright child. I was, certainly, when I was doing exams at 16, straight A student, that kind of thing. It definitely got harder the older I got, but yeah, aspects of it I did really enjoy. I was to go into music at relatively early age. And this is quite interesting, because I started with a recorder and then moved up to flutes. And aged 11, I hit a wall where I thought, I'm going to give up playing the flute. I wasn't getting on terribly well with my teacher, I wasn't really practising, I was getting fed up with it. And then, aged 11, we did a summer concert at school, and I was playing in the school orchestra. And looking back, it was probably awful. The parents were there under sufferance to support the children, but I doubt it was a particularly pleasant experience. But performing in that concert changed my mind. Something clicked, I realised that that was what playing music was about, it was being part of that group. And yeah, ever since then, that has always been where I've derived pleasure to play music, it's when I've been part of a bigger group, be it an orchestra or wind band, playing in the pit band for a local play, that kind of thing.
Kyle Elliott 12:25
Anything else from your childhood? I mean, we've covered a lot of good things here and pulled out a lot of stuff. And for those listening, I want you to start reflecting on your childhood and filling out this left circle on the Venn diagram with those things you enjoyed as a child, with those things other people recognised about you, really anything that you enjoyed or found fine as a child.
Jeremy Cline 12:44
I used to play Lego quite a lot, enjoyed that. And interest in kind of the more fantasy, sci-fi side of things probably started at a fairly young age. We used to watch Doctor Who in our house, and I'm talking about like 1980s Doctor Who, not the 2000s reboot here. So, yeah, I guess I've kind of always been into that sort of fantasy, sci-fi side of things. So, I think that's what I can dredge up at the moment.
Kyle Elliott 13:16
I love that. Now, we're going to fast forward a decade or two or three and look at the present. What do you enjoy now, and what do people recognise about you now?
Jeremy Cline 13:26
I have been told that I am a good listener. And one of the things I really like about these podcast interviews, and I'm conscious that now you're asking all the questions, but yeah, I love asking questions, listening to what people are saying and picking out interesting points. So, I have been told on a few occasions that I am a good listener, and also, I asked good questions. I've also been told, partly in podcasts and also at work, that I am one of the more organised people. I do tend to get stuff done. I like to be organised, I like to make sure that my podcast guests are comfortable and well briefed and that kind of stuff. And I'm quite fastidious, quite thorough. They say that every strength has a weakness on the other side, and that can definitely go into analysis-paralysis, researching things to the nth degree, so you know, buying an new TV and spending days researching it and changing your mind five times about what it is you're going to get, and then, having made the decision, it's out of stock, and you've got to get something else. So, yeah, but I'm quite thorough, as well, and quite analytical.
Kyle Elliott 14:50
And I'm curious how do other people see you? I mean, you've mentioned that a little bit. Any other adjectives or words that people use to describe you?
Jeremy Cline 14:59
Fairly relaxed, easy-going. I remember one guy saying, any more relaxed, I'd be horizontal, which is quite interesting. I think that's been how I kind of came across externally. Because I always thought of myself as being quite neurotic and a bundle of nerves. But clearly, sort of outward-facing, calm is a word that people have used sometimes.
Kyle Elliott 15:22
Now, you might have already started noticing this, but what themes do you notice that overlap between your childhood and who Jeremy is now?
Jeremy Cline 15:30
I guess from the creativity side, that kind of comes through. It's not exactly expressed in a fiction sense, but creating podcast interviews, creating the questions, I think about kind of creating the journey that my listeners are going to go on in the topic of whatever it is we're exploring.
Kyle Elliott 15:55
So, it sounds like those stories from childhood, you're now creating stories again, as an adult.
Jeremy Cline 16:00
Yeah, I guess so. Without being the hero of the story. I guess I quite often used to write stories from the first person, whereas now I'm more about drawing out the points and the stories from my guests. Although having said that, it's quite cathartic being interviewed for a change in the podcast. And also, in music, I mean, yes, you're usually reading dots on a page, but it's got that creative side to it. And I quite enjoy, I got into playing jazz relatively recently, and improvising is great fun. Yeah, getting to play around within a defined sort of system parameters, but that's quite good fun. So, yeah, there's elements. And yeah, always being sort of quite organised about things, that has definitely been a theme which has come through.
Kyle Elliott 16:55
Yeah, you have quite a few here, the creativity, the storytelling, the organised, the ability to be impromptu as well on the moment, if needed. So, a point you hit earlier, here are some things that are unique about me, Kyle, or about someone, but then what makes it a unique selling point, their unique proposition that sets them apart from other people? So, I want to do that with you now. I think of it like an iceberg. We have these three items, creativity, storytelling, and organised with the ability to think on the spot as needed. Now, we want to think of that as the top of the iceberg. Now, let's dig under that. So, what sets you apart, Jeremy, from other people who are creative, who can tell great stories, and who are organised but can think on the spot? And this is where we get into here's what makes you fabulous compared to other people.
Jeremy Cline 17:46
Yeah. So, whenever I have thought about this, what it seems to me is that the combination is the uniqueness. But that's always the bit that I have found it difficult to sell, is how you say, well, it's not that I am the number one person who understands this, or the number one person who can do this, but I've got this combination of things. And I know that other people have talked about how that is their particular uniqueness. So, Scott, I've completely forgotten his surname, the Dilbert cartoon guy, Scott Adams, he said that he wasn't the best cartoonists, and he wasn't the best humourist or whatever he describes that, but he's kind of good enough at both of them, and so, he combines them together to create Dilbert, which has got iconic appeal. So, yes, how does someone listening take these things, the themes that we've rolled out with me, and turn them into the cell, if you like?
Kyle Elliott 18:54
And I think that's the answer often, right? There's the combination, a lot of people may be creative, a lot of people may be great storytellers, a lot of people may be organised and also able to think on the spot, and I think the combination, you don't see all three of those in a single person very often, if at all. And I think right there, that could be fabulous. The other piece, for people who might be listening and stuck, I like doing, is asking for a lifeline, texting a few friends, family members, colleagues and saying, 'What makes me fabulous?' I mostly work with tech people, and they'll often texts colleagues, and like, 'Kyle, I'm an engineer and no one I texted said my engineering skills are what made me fabulous.' So, I encourage those who are listening to also text a few people and say, 'Hey, I'm listening to Jeremy and Kyle talk, just ignore this random question and the why, but just tell me why am I fabulous, what makes me fabulous.' And see what they say. And oftentimes, when clients do this, they start noticing threads, and they're like, 'Oh, all three people said it's my listening skills, or all three people said it's my empathy on top of this other stuff.' And I think that can add some nice spices or variety on top of this combination that you mentioned.
Jeremy Cline 20:10
I completely agree with that. And something I do with my coaching clients is like a 360 questionnaire. So, a list of questions which I ask them to send to friends, family members. And it's fascinating giving you the insight into their lives, but also seeing the themes which run through. So, I was looking at one earlier today, and yes, pretty much everyone was saying the same thing on a particular aspect, which is, when you're inside the bottle, you can't read the label, it's quite hard to see this from the outside without getting that sort of external perspective.
Kyle Elliott 20:48
And I find that goes back to what we discussed at the beginning, the point of a unique value proposition or unique selling point is that confidence piece, so having other people validate it and give additional insights, oh, have you also thought about this piece being fabulous, or this piece, that can also give you that confidence boost as you go into writing your resume and interviewing and saying this is what sets me apart, you also have validation from outside or external perspectives as well.
Jeremy Cline 21:16
So, how do you draw this across when you're putting in an application, when you're writing your CV, when you're in a job interview?
Kyle Elliott 21:26
I like using this as a checklist. So, saying, okay, when I'm crafting my resume, are there examples of my creativity on my resume? Are there examples of my storytelling? Are there examples of me being organised but also able to think on the spot? And then, are there examples that combine all of these? And really creating a talk track or bullet points that have all of these and then repeating that in each of your documents. So, does my resume have this? Does my cover letter have this? Does my LinkedIn profile have this? And then, when you go prep for interviews, making sure you also have stories that backup each of these. So, this can really be a checklist, I call it a recipe card with my clients, I say, 'Okay, do you have the eggs? Check. Do you have the milk? Check. Do you have the butter? Check.' And I think, Jeremy, this would be your checklist, and for those listening, you can figure out what are my two, three, four things that make me fabulous, and make sure then that those are mentioned in all your career documents and interviews.
Jeremy Cline 22:23
And so, if you get asked directly the question what makes you unique, what is your USP, how can you craft that without it kind of coming across as clunky? Or do you do that anyway? So, my uniqueness is my combination of blah, blah blah, how can you phrase it?
Kyle Elliott 22:44
I think it's being honest. I think it's saying, 'You know what? I think a lot of people are creative.' I think you said something like this earlier, a lot of people are creative and can tell stories and are organised but can think on the spot, but what sets me apart is the combination of them. I'm not just creative, but it's the ability to pull stories out, and then be organised, and then impromptu in the same way. So, this showed up when I was a child, and then, now it shows up through my podcast, through my coaching work, through the time I spend with my daughter, it shows up in all these areas, and then, I have stories to back it up. And I think that's how you can really be effective in selling that.
Jeremy Cline 23:19
So, I'm just thinking one thing that lawyers, because I'm a lawyer by background, lawyers are notoriously bad at maths, you can say, 'Well, you know, I'm a lawyer, but I'm also pretty good at maths.' And I'm now trying to think how you can actually show that as a benefit. Well, actually, you solve math problems in different ways to the way you might solve other problems, and you do it in a particularly logical way which could be advantageous for lawyers, I guess.
Kyle Elliott 23:47
Exactly. And the key when you're identifying this is not always the exact skills, but you're communicating and saying, here's how it's a benefit as well. So, I have this creativity, this storytelling, these organising abilities, and here's how that's a benefit to this company that I'm applying to, and then connect the dots for them. And that's how I like rounding out that answer of what makes you fabulous. Here's why that's a benefit to Meta, for Google or Amazon or whatever company you're interviewing with.
Jeremy Cline 24:18
So, if you're going for a job which is likely to have hundreds or even thousands of applications, and someone maybe will spend 30 seconds looking at your resume, how can you make this leap out and hit them in the eyes, so you get a chance to get to that next stage?
Kyle Elliott 24:39
I like having a really powerful summary at the top of the resume that conveys this. Some really quick, short stories that demonstrate each of these three. I would maybe even have three bullet points at the top of your resume or summary and have one really powerful example of your creativity, one really powerful example of your storytelling, and then one powerful example of how you organise something. And I actually tell clients to think like a lawyer. I'm glad you mentioned that. And I say, 'This is great, but where's the proof? Where's the evidence?' So, anytime you make a claim on your resume, I want you to pretend a lawyer is about to scrutinise you, and they're going to say, 'Where's the proof? Where's the evidence?' So, I would do the same thing on your resume. I would say, 'I'm creative. Here's an example. I'm a great storyteller. Here's an example. I'm organised. Here's an example.' And I find that's really powerful, because if someone's reading through a bunch of resumes, and they see bam, bam, bam, wow, there's three really memorable stories from this person's career, that can be really powerful for them. And I like using a summary, so then you can draw a story from now, you can draw a story from 10 years ago, and summarise it, or add a bunch of highlights at the top, without having to go in chronological or reverse chronological order.
Jeremy Cline 25:53
Let's say that, as a wide eyed child, you had all these aspirations, and you enjoyed doing the storytelling and all that kind of stuff, and then, if you like, real life hit, and so, all of your professional experience has been coding or something like that. But having worked with you, they really want to explore the more creativity side. But they perceive that they haven't got any experience on their CV which they can use to draw that out. I mean, maybe you'll correct me, but I can't imagine saying, yes, as an eight-year-old, I was really great at writing stories and putting that on my CV for whatever the job might be at Meta. So, how does someone get around that? There's someone who, on the one hand, they're looking to be truer to who they are, who they were, what really does make them fabulous, but without necessarily having had the opportunity to express all of it in their work history?
Kyle Elliott 27:00
Yeah, that comes up a lot. In this example of someone wanting to be creative, but maybe has this coding background, I would consider highlighting how that coding background is a benefit. So, a lot of people will say, 'Well, I don't want to talk about coding too much, Kyle, that's going to scare people away if I'm applying for creative roles.' And I take a different perspective as a coach, I like shining a light on that. And I would say, 'What sets me apart from other creatives is my coding background. And here's how that's a benefit. One could be, I create stories through code. If you think about it, code is just a different way of writing and communicating and sharing stories. So, let me shine a light on that and give you some examples of how I shared stories through code or how I had to communicate or how I had to be creative and solve problems.' I remember I did this workshop for students, and our job was to communicate how everyone in the room had skills related, transferable skills related to project management. And one of the students raised her hand and said, 'Kyle, I don't think I have any relatable skills. I work in a morgue. There's no one alive. It's just dead bodies.' And I said, 'Oh, gosh.' I'm like, the worst kind of person who can raise their hand, it's going to be difficult. I'm like, okay, let's try. And then, we realised she actually was a project manager. Each body came in, and she managed the body from start, coming into the morgue until it exited the morgue, and moved on to the family. And we realised she deals with timelines, schedules, budgets, cross-functional communication, collaboration, all of this. So, I find sometimes it just takes some digging to be able to connect the dots, just like this coding example, moving to a creative role.
Jeremy Cline 28:40
So, the message is that you can probably find what you want in there if you look hard enough and are creative enough with it.
Kyle Elliott 28:48
Exactly. Exactly. And your job as a job seeker is to communicate and connect the dots for that recruiter or hiring manager.
Jeremy Cline 28:57
Let's talk a bit about how, once you've got your USP, it can be a filter. So, rather than the spray and pray, or I've applied for 200 jobs and haven't got anything, what are some of the techniques you can use once you've identified your USP, that you can use it to highlight, bring to your attention roles which will fit you?
Kyle Elliott 29:25
One of the first steps I like clients doing, either before they create their USP or after, is creating a list of here's how I'm going to vet job offers and interview offers when they come my way. And I like using that USP to help do that. So, let's say you're a really great storyteller. One of the items on your checklist to that company can be, will this organisation allow me to use my storytelling skills. And for different clients, depending on your situation, if you really need a job, you're unemployed, and maybe it's a preference, I want this organisation to allow me to use my storytelling skills, but if they don't, I need a job. For other people, if you're actively employed, and you're being more picky, you can say, 'You know what? That's a deal breaker. If I can't use my fabulousness, which is telling stories, I'm not going to pursue this interview or job offer.' So, once you've identified that USP, you can use it to filter in and out interviews and job offers when pursuing different roles.
Jeremy Cline 30:21
That makes a lot of sense, and it kind of heads off another question I had about people, and maybe this is a UK versus US thing, but you know, in the UK, we are traditionally more reserved, you know, not bad at it, I've got a little bit of a testament to this, and you know, they might be talking about something actually they're completely amazing at. But taking this time to figure out what actually you're really, really good at, or this unique combination to you, it's not just about shouting from the rooftops and telling everyone how great you are, it's also about figuring out where you fit and what's right for you.
Kyle Elliott 31:08
Yeah, and I find a lot of people are like, 'Oh, this feels like bragging, Kyle, I'm more humble, this is difficult.' And that's why I like looking externally and asking other people for feedback, so it's not just here's all the things I think I'm great at, but instead, you're using other people's insights to help guide this. And then, like you said, you're finding these organisations that align with that. And then, the ones that don't align, you can say, 'Oh, this one won't really use my skills, maybe I should pass on it.' And I find getting outside feedback makes it a lot easier for people, so they're not saying, 'I think I'm really great at this', but instead, 'Here's five former colleagues who say I'm great at storytelling', and it makes it a little easier. And then, the second piece is getting that evidence or that proof. So, instead of saying, 'I'm great at storytelling', it's easier to say, 'Oh, here's a campaign that my team worked on', and that can be a little less intimidating for people if you say, 'Oh, here's an example', rather than just stating a fact, 'Oh, I'm great at this.'
Jeremy Cline 32:08
And so, that's a technique which you can use when it comes to interview. If someone asks you what you're good at, then you're being factual about it. You're not saying, 'Oh, I'm brilliant at this', you're saying, 'Well, you know, to give you an example, here's something I did', which demonstrates how good you are at something.
Kyle Elliott 32:28
Exactly. And if you feel a little more reserved, that's an easier way perhaps to start talking about it and start practising owning your fabulousness or that unique selling proposition. It can take time to really own that. And just different people have different levels of comfort when it comes to talking about their strengths. It takes time and practice.
Jeremy Cline 32:47
Speaking of which, I mean, the process that we went through with the Venn diagram, how long can you spend on that? I'm sure you could spend forever on it, but I'm conscious that you might dredge up things that you hadn't really thought about, maybe you start to revisit things. Is there a good practice for how long to spend on the exercise and how often you repeat it or come back to it?
Kyle Elliott 33:13
Yeah, I often spend a good hour or two with clients just on this Venn diagram, and then, with that iceberg, looking below. So, they'll say, 'Okay, what sets me apart, Kyle, is the combination of this three.' And then, I'll say, okay, what else? 'Okay, I'm also a father.' Okay, what else? 'Okay, I live in the UK.' What else? And we'll keep going down, and I'll help people list 10, 20, 30, I had one client list over 40 different things that set them apart, and we'll keep going. And I have one rule, a single rule in my coaching practice, when people work with me, is they're not allowed to say, 'I don't know.' And I'm a major introvert, I may not seem like it, but when we're on coaching calls, clients will just be silent then and sit there sometimes for five or ten minutes, and noodle, noodle, noodle, noodle, and think, and then they'll say, 'Oh, I forgot to mention, Kyle, I have an MBA. Most people who are engineers don't have MBAs.' I say, "Oh my gosh, let's add that.' So, I love taking time to reflect on this and not feeling like, oh my gosh, this is a 30-something-minute podcast, by the end of this, I need to know what makes me fabulous. No, it's a process. And I encourage people to revisit this every six months or so, because you might have new education or new experience or skills that will then allow you to just further and better articulate your unique selling proposition.
Jeremy Cline 34:31
So, is there anything in this process of identifying what makes you fabulous that we haven't talked about, anything else that you'd like to throw into the mix?
Kyle Elliott 34:41
I think we touched upon it a bit, but I just want to highlight, it can be uncomfortable. A lot of people aren't used to talking about themselves, that can feel like bragging, and to recognise it just takes practice. And I often encourage people to do this with someone else, so a coach like Jeremy or myself, it can be helpful to have someone else sit down and do it with you. And again, those texts other people, it can be helpful to get those insights, so then you're not just staring at a blank page and saying, 'Oh, gosh, this Venn diagram is intimidating.' But having a coach or another professional work with you can make it a lot easier.
Jeremy Cline 35:18
We would say that, because we're coaches, but I quite agree. And also, there is so much value in getting this sense of perspective from other people, as well. I know that people can find it quite challenging to ask quite vulnerable questions to friends, but my experience, both with myself and other people, is that, in most cases, people are very happy to do this. They are happy to answer questions, and they may say, 'Well, I'm not sure I can answer that', but they'll still be able to give you some insights which you can throw into the pot.
Kyle Elliott 35:56
Yes. And as you go into a job search, clients often share, 'Oh my gosh, this is such a big confidence boost to get all these texts, people saying nice things, this is going to be my background on my phone, or my laptop. Oh my gosh, all these nice words, Kyle. I didn't realise people even thought this about me.' Sometimes all you have to do is just ask.
Jeremy Cline 36:14
Kyle, this has been fascinating. And yeah, I certainly quite enjoyed being used as the guinea pig myself. And I hope this has been useful for everyone else to help other people think about it. If someone wants to dive into this further, what other recommendations do you have for books or podcasts or anything that people can look at to, yeah, help them figure out what makes them fabulous?
Kyle Elliott 36:37
I love Disneyland. Probably three or four years ago, I was there in a little gift shop, and I came across this quote that I loved by Carl Jung. And it said, 'What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits.' So, when my clients are stuck, and they're like, 'Oh, I don't know what I want to do next for a living, or I don't know what makes me fabulous', I love going back to our childhoods and saying what lit us up then, what was exciting then, what did people notice about us then, before we had these societal masks and pressures on. So, that's one of my favourite quotes to look at when people need a little inspiration.
Jeremy Cline 37:16
Brilliant, I love that quote. And if people want to get a hold of you, where's the best place that they can do that?
Kyle Elliott 37:23
Yes, my website is caffeinatedkyle.com, and then I also spent a lot of time on LinkedIn, Kyle Elliott, with two L's and two T's.
Jeremy Cline 37:30
And the caffeinated bit, what does that allude to?
Kyle Elliott 37:34
One, I just love coffee, and then, the second is, I caffeinate people's careers and their lives, so really help them take it to the next level.
Jeremy Cline 37:41
Love it. Cool. I will put a link to that in the show notes. Kyle, thanks so much for coming on the podcast.
Kyle Elliott 37:47
Thank you for having me, and thank you for being a guinea pig for the listeners. It was great.
Jeremy Cline 37:52
Okay, hope you enjoyed that interview with Kyle Elliott. Well, I certainly enjoyed being the guinea pig in Kyle's thought experiment. And I hope it was something that you found useful too. It can be tricky to find that one thing, that one special thing that separates you from everyone else. But it's when you start to look at the combination of things that you're good at that you get to the real gold. It's the Venn diagram, the combination of things, there's going to be far fewer people who have that combination that you have. And it's that that's going to make you uniquely suited to do a particular role. Kyle also made the important point that employers want evidence. They don't just want you to tell them what you're good at, but they'd like to see some proof of that as well. That's why it's important to come up with some examples which you can offer at interview. So, do have a go at that thought experiment and see what you come up with about what makes you unique. There's a full set of show notes and a transcript there as changeworklife.com/148, that's changeworklife.com/148, for episode 148. And if you'd like some help figuring out what makes you unique, maybe you do the thought experiment, maybe you dive back into your past, but you can't draw out those distinctive characteristics that are just you, well, that's maybe something that I can help with. Figuring out who you are is a key part, is a key foundation of the coaching that I offer. Wherever you are in your career, the easiest way to figure out where you want to get to is first to start with where you are now. An analogy I heard which I absolutely love is it's like going into a big shopping mall, and you kind of know that you might want to go to the Levi's store or maybe you want to go to Dunkin Donuts, but in order to get there, first of all, you need to look at the map at the bottom of the escalators and look for that dot which says 'You are here'. If you work with me, we'll spend a little bit of time figuring out just where you are. And that's in terms of things like your strengths, your values and what it is that makes you you, what it is that makes you unique. So, if that sounds like it might be something that's helpful for you, then take a look at changeworklife.com/coaching, that's changeworklife.com/coaching, you can find out a bit more. And if you'd like a free introductory 30-minute coaching session with me, then you'll find a link there where you can book that in. That link again, it's changeworklife.com/coaching. Now, whilst you might be in the thick of your career just at the moment, chances are there's going to come a time when you think about slowing down, maybe reducing your hours, maybe even retiring completely. It might seem a long way off, but there's a lot you can do now to make sure that when retirement comes, you're in a financially secure and stable position to enjoy it. That's exactly what we're going to be discussing in two weeks' time. So, if you haven't subscribed to the show already, then make sure you hit subscribe on whatever app you're using at the moment. If it's Apple podcast, there should be a little plus button. you'll then get the show as soon as it's released, and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye.
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