Why Fit In When You Should Stand Out?

One of the most common misconceptions I encounter daily is the false belief that your talent or skills alone are what get you the job.

To be clear skills are important but they are only part of the equation.

If you are new to television hosting or anchoring you absolutely need to develop certain skills and if you have experience you want to continue sharpening those skills, focusing on the specific things you want to improve on, the way an elite athlete approaches training.

In my experience, skills get you in the door but they rarely get you the job. By the time you are in the audition or meeting process there is a reasonable expectation that you can functionally do the job.

And here’s the thing of it:

It’s hard to quantify who is the best prompter reader.

If you are amazing in other ways – like a sparkling on camera presence and we can’t take our eyes off of you or you have very specific expertise and a good personality, my clients will often choose you and train you – it’s why I have a media training business – over the person with tip top skills but missing that ineffable quality.

There are many examples of this and I’m sure there’s a chance you’ve been disappointed when a job went to someone with less experience or someone from another field.

I hear this all the time: How did THEY get a talk show?

Well, here you go: You have been focusing on what makes you fit in instead of focusing on what makes you stand out.

You are missing half the equation. It’s both a practical and a mental reframe to shift your focus.

This is a super simple yet effective 2-step approach:

  1. Do I fit in? Yes? Great.
  2. How do I stand out?

Presuming everybody applying for the same job or casting or opportunity – this applies to any job in any field – meets the stated requirements, what about you stands out?

Start by making a list of how you stand out.

What are you really, really good at?

What are your strengths?

What do you get compliments on?

What do your bosses mention in your reviews?

What value do you bring?

Really take time to think about this. And own it.

To be fair, many job listings are generic. When casting directors, production companies, digital agencies, brands and networks announce they are looking for talent they often post similar criteria.

In the hosting space the classic is: Smart, funny, relatable, quick on their feet with strong television skills.

It’s perfectly reasonable for you to read that and think, that’s me! I’m great on prompter. I can memorize loads of copy quickly.

You are meeting the basic criteria. Good. But if you prepare for your meeting or audition by only focusing on the script or your past work experience you are missing the big picture.

It’s not uncommon to get a note confirming an appointment that says there’s nothing to prepare. And you think: That’s easy. I got this. And you don’t prepare.

You need to be strategic.

While it’s true buyers and employers are looking for good skills no one has given you the real inside information: Everyone is looking for culture fit.

In television and digital media, everyone is looking for talent who is going to break through the clutter and hold our attention.

You need to spend time figuring out what makes you, uniquely you. When you are focused on fitting in, you are sitting in the middle of the comfort zone which feels good for a while until you stop and realize: If I sit in the middle of the road I’ll get run over.

Skirt the edges. Meaning you don’t have to be radical or outrageous or the wildest or the most anything, you just need to be a little different from everyone else and the best version of yourself.

Sometimes that difference is subtle and nuanced.

One way to visualize this is to imagine a food competition, let’s say best hamburger or best pizza. They are all starting with the same ingredients. The hamburgers are beef on a bun. For argument’s sake let’s agree the ingredients are all high quality. What sets each one apart are the seasonings and the toppings.

What are your seasonings? What are the ingredients in the recipe of you – and in what proportions? What’s your surprise, secret ingredient?

I encourage you too to let go of the very real human desire to please everyone. You can’t. That’s another one of those tricks that gets you trapped in the middle of the road, stuck in the crowd. It’s fear based thinking that does not serve you.

It may seem like reverse logic, but trying to please everyone ends up limiting your opportunities.