The Difference is in the Details

How do I stand out?

This is probably one of the most common questions amongst students and job seekers, and for good reason. We face strong competition at career fairs, networking events, and in job interviews, and often our competitors have many of the same experiences and qualifications as we do. So the question becomes, “amongst all of these options, how can I convince [insert company name here] that they should pick me?”

In event planning, people often say, “the difference is in the details” when it comes to what distinguishes a great event from a mediocre one. What they mean to say is that an event is truly excellent when every last detail has been intentionally planned and placed accordingly. Any professional in the industry will tell you that the intricacies of lighting, décor placement, etc. are the aspects that work together to provide guests with an unforgettable experience.

Why do I bring this up? Most of you reading this probably don’t care about event planning and have no desire to become an event planner. I get that. But I think the concept that “the difference is in the details” can be applied to your professional life as well – by simply paying attention to the details of your interactions and your work, you can stand out.

What are “the details”?

The details are all of the aspects of professional (and personal) interactions that are easily forgotten or overlooked. These aspects can come from a variety of sources and situations. A few examples include:

Remembering someone’s name when you meet them, and continuing to use their name throughout your conversation

  • Actively listening to others, not focusing on other tasks while they are speaking
  • Arriving early to events, meetings, etc.
  • Remembering previous conversations with a person and asking follow up questions related to what they’ve shared with you
  • Responding to requests and completing tasks quickly
  • Taking the time to understand how a particular person prefers to communicate, then tailoring your work to reflect that person’s style
  • Knowing and using proper etiquette at dinners, events, meetings, etc.
  • Anticipating others’ needs/requests and doing your best to address them

Why are they so important?

People notice when you notice the things they care about. People like to be appreciated and to connect with others. When you take the time to notice the small things, you make them feel appreciated and you make it easy to connect with you.

The details add up over time. When you consistently put in that extra effort, it builds up and shows others that you genuinely care. Consistency is key here – you cannot expect someone to be impressed by one minor gesture (though that does happen occasionally). Rather, you must continually make the effort to notice the details to the point where others rely on you to do so. You create true value when others come to expect for you to notice the details.

It shows that you take ownership. It takes a lot of effort to consistently recognize the details, but when you decide to do that extra work, you prove to others that you are personally engaged and committed to the organization and the job.

All in all, this is a very simple approach. It’s nothing revolutionary or new. However, I believe it is highly effective because so few people actually take the time and effort to notice and consistently follow through on the simple details. If you do, you’ll be well on your way to standing out!