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Is your contractor business vanilla or pistachio?

This is a guest blog by Matt Craven, Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Linked-In-Credible

I recently received an email from someone in my business network – Nigel Botterill from the Entrepreneurs Circle – who read a book titled ‘How the World Sees You’ by Sally Hogshead. It’s all about positioning and personal branding, which is a topic very close to my heart.

Nigel was rather taken by Hogshead’s teachings and used it as a tool for educating his SME clients. However, it is highly relevant for contractors too. So, i’ve pinched a few parts of his email and tailored it to the contractor market.

The key point he hones in on is how many businesses describe themselves as being ‘better’ or ‘the best’. Based on Hogshead’s book, he talks about how a business should resist the urge to pitch themselves as better and focus on how they are different.

Hogshead prompts her audience to consider whether they are 'vanilla’ or ‘pistachio'. Vanilla is the best-selling ice cream flavour, but there is a lot of competition. Being a 'better’ vanilla is a flawed strategy because it’s subjective and every other vanilla ice cream also thinks it’s the best. As Nigel says: “pistachio will get you noticed! Yes, you'll get a negative response from some, but being pistachio is the only way to be fascinating to somebody. Vanilla fascinates no one.”

In the book, Hogshead states you are 99.9 per cent the same as everyone else. She's talking about DNA and anatomy, but it applies to your contracting business as well. Your point of difference depends on that 0.1 per cent – find your USP and use it to your competitive advantage.

If a recruiter sees you as vanilla, you’ll be in competition with every other vanilla. Nigel argues that you are “suppressing the very 0.1 per cent difference that offers your only true opportunity for greatness in your marketplace.” But, if you are pistachio, you have a point of difference which will get you noticed.

So, how does this relate to LinkedIn and CVs?

Obviously, your LinkedIn profile is your businesses’ window to prospective clients, and your profile is crucial to how people perceive you and your business. I review a lot of LinkedIn profiles and far too many are vanilla.

I was talking to a freelancer/consultant recently about their messaging, which was generic and ambiguous. Many business owners tell me that they have tried LinkedIn, but it doesn’t work. However, the average person is so entrenched in their own thinking, that it’s very difficult to objectively assess their messaging.

It’s the same with CVs, too. How are recruiters and hiring managers supposed to make informed decisions from a long list of vanilla CVs? Finding your point of difference is key: communicate your value proposition, unique selling points, and provide examples of your work with tangible and measurable outcomes. By doing this, you’ll find your very own version of pistachio.

We’ll be hosting an IPSE webinar ‘The Definitive Guide to Winning Work in 2019’ on Tuesday 20 November at 7.15pm. The webinar will expand on these points in more detail and will cover a range of topics including contractor CVs, LinkedIn profiles, networking, thought leadership and interview techniques. You can register for free here.

To submit a free CV and/or LinkedIn appraisal and receive detailed feedback against current best-practice, click here.