With more than seven billion people all living together on this planet, each one of us faces a lot of competition. And as the world grows, competition will only get more fierce. So how do you make yourself the favorite without being ruthless or underhanded? Here are five simple ways to deal with your competition and make yourself the obvious choice.
1. Don’t backstab:
You’re going to make it to the top by focusing on how good YOU are, not by pointing out how bad the others are. As a Class Act, the one thing you won’t do during the race to the top is backstab.
It is acceptable to talk up your own talents and skills and to cleverly highlight what management is looking for by highlighting your own expertise and the value you bring. What you should not do is openly state why you think your competition is useless. Instead, you show they are all wrong by getting decision makers to focus on how good YOU are, not by pointing out how bad others are.
Here are a few tricks you can do:
- self manage something the decision makers may not have known they wanted but that your competition clearly hasn’t got
- leverage any contacts you have to find out the calibre of your competition
- make sure the decision makers know what you’ve got by highlighting your special skills, good points and any expertise that your opposition doesn’t have
- enhance your own attributes creatively based on what the decision makers are looking for.
2. Capitalize on career enhancing moments:
When it comes to waking-up and going to work, many people experience the same routine day after day. For most people there is a bit of repetition in their professional life. But if you work long and hard enough, there’s also going to be special moments off intense activity where you can identify opportunities to enhance your career. They can be:
- running a key presentation
- chairing an important meeting
- being responsible for the visit of a major potential client, celebrity or dignitary
- editing your company’s newsletter
- being a designated first aider at the company
- organizing a staff function
- running a strategic event such as an exhibition or trade show stand
- attending a health and safety or legal compliance meeting
- managing a crisis
3. Understand the psychology of selection:
This point works when applying for jobs, pitching yourself to clients or marketing customers. Understanding the psychology behind why a decision maker makes a choice to use someone or not, will give you a competitive edge.
Consider this scenario:
A job has just opened in your office. You like the job and it fits with your long-term growth plan plus you could use the extra cash. You’ve seen the job description and you know you have the experience, qualifications and skills asked for by the hiring manager. But what is really being decided here? And what are the actual criteria being used?
There is usually a whole lot more going on behind management’s doors than the rest of the staff knows. For example the job may be advertised because:
- your manager has already unofficially filled it by offering it someone in secret
- human Resources says it has to but your management has no intention of filling it
- the posting is part of the company’s strategy to downsize, it will only go to someone who will be made redundant in six months
- they whole exercise could be a waste of time because the person who has resigned is just playing their new offer off the old company to get a better package — once the package is improved, they won’t take the new job
- the job has been posted to get rid of someone. Management will offer it to someone completely unsuitable, so they have grounds to terminate them which they can’t do in their current position.
Despite being the best person on paper, there are a million reasons why you might not get a job offer or job contract. There may also be reasons why you should not apply for the role. Don’t take it personally — but do understand the psychology behind why offers are made. It might not be quite what it seems.
4. Don’t damn the opposition with fake praise:
Don’t praise your competition unless you really mean it. This is because it is too easy to undermine someone by using praise when you’re actually being really calculated and setting them up. This isn’t a clever approach because people aren’t stupid. This game gets spotted immediately and it comes across as shallow, vindictive and ruthless. Some think that they can get away with saying nasty things disguised as nice things, but you can’t. Just don’t go there.
5. Know your competition:
If your pitching for clients, know who else is bidding, then you can beat them by ensuring your proposal is the best fit. The same applies for if your marketing customers. Additionally, if you’re going for a new job or promotion at work — there are other people to take into account and then eliminate. For any appointment there are two types of categories:
- the internal candidate
- the external candidate.
If you’re applying for a promotion, the internal ones are your immediate colleagues, staff from other departments and staff from other office locations. If any of your immediate colleagues are also applying, then you’ll probably hear about this from them. Staff from other departments can usually be identified by checking with your contacts. Staff from other locations present a bit of a challenge but you can leverage your network to discover information.
Candidates from outside the organization are tricky. There’s no way to know who will apply but you can:
- see the job advertisement before it is released and have a pretty good idea of what’s being asked for
- talk to contacts to find out who is on the shortlist from the external candidate pool
- again use contacts to find out who is being contacted for interviews and what sort of competition you are up against.
Remember knowledge is power. You probably won’t like what you discover, but at least you’ll know. Once you’ve studied what the competition is doing, you’ll need to tailor your pitch so that you fit the picture of the ideal candidate — either as an employee or entrepreneur.