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How to Stand Out

When there are lots of other people around, standing out can be a challenge. However, standing out may help you to advance yourself academically, professionally, and personally. There are several strategies you can use to help yourself stand out using your strengths, your interpersonal skills, and your appearance.


EditStanding Out at Work

  1. Identify your strengths. Knowing who you are and what you excel at can help you to use those strengths to your benefit. Take some time to think about what you are best at and write down these strengths. This will make it easier for you to identify opportunities that will allow you to shine.[1]
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    • You can identify your strengths by reflecting on what other people have complimented you on and what activities are the most satisfying for you.[2]
    • For example, if you are a good public speaker, watch for opportunities to use this skill on the job. Try volunteering to make an announcement or give a presentation.
  2. Volunteer for a special project. You can also stand out by pushing yourself to do something that is out of your comfort zone. Watch for opportunities to take the initiative at work, such as volunteering to head up a special project or other team effort.[3]
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    • For example, if your boss is looking for someone to head up a new sales campaign, volunteer to be the team leader. This will show your boss that you take the initiative.
  3. Prepare for work as much as possible. As you take on new responsibilities and manage your old ones, make sure that you prepare yourself to do your best. Research, plan ahead, and find other ways to prepare yourself to do the best job you can.[4]
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    • For example, if you have volunteered to head up a new sales campaign, learn as much as you can about the product and brainstorm some options for increasing sales.
    • If you are supposed to give a presentation at work, then prepare detailed notes and practice your presentation as many times as possible.
  4. Approach work problems creatively. You don’t need to stick to a formula for everything you do at work. Whether you are taking on a new or old task, consider new ways to approach the problem. A new strategy may yield great results and this may be just what you need to stand out at work.[5]
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    • If you have volunteered for a special project at work, consider what has already been done and what hasn’t been done. It’s okay to implement some tried and true methods, but you can also implement some new strategies to see if they get you better results.
    • For example, to develop ideas for a sales campaign, you could use some standard sales techniques and also invite your coworkers to try out new sales techniques that you have researched.
  5. Provide honest answers about yourself when interviewing. As much as it may be tempting to embellish your abilities, it is best to be honest as you step up to take on new responsibilities, such as for a promotion or a job at a new company. Be yourself and be honest about what you do and do not know how to do, but make sure to stand up for yourself in the process.[6]
    Stand Out Step 5.jpg
    • For example, if you don’t have the best sales record, then you could tell your boss something like, “I’m not the leader when it comes to sales, but I get along well with everyone and I work hard, so I think I would make a great team leader for this new campaign.”
    • Or, if you are applying for a job that you are slightly underqualified for, then you could say something like, “Although I have a degree in business rather than finance, I have worked in finance for the past 3 years.”
  6. Speak up in meetings. Work meetings can be intimidating, but it is important to speak up in these meetings if you want to stand out from your coworkers. Your boss won’t know about all the great ideas you have unless you take ownership of them. Speak up when you have a relevant idea about something that comes up during the meeting.[7]
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    • For example, if you are at work, and your boss has just asked for ideas to help solve a problem, you could offer a solution or expand on a solution that someone else has suggested.

EditSetting Yourself Apart at School

  1. Do all of the assignments for your classes. One of the main ways to set yourself apart at school is to work hard and earn the best grades you can. This will get the attention of your teachers, your peers, and your parents. To ensure that you earn the best possible grades, do all of the homework, projects, and other assignments for all of your classes.[8]
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    • Set aside a designated time to work on your homework in the evenings, such as from 4pm to 6pm or from 7pm to 9pm.
    • Ask your family members and friends not to disturb you during this time. Let them know that this is your homework time and you will be available before and after, but not during this time slot.
  2. Get involved in extracurricular activities. Extracurricular activities can also help you to stand out by giving you a chance to hone a skill and show off your talents. Most schools have a variety of extracurricular activities for students. You can get involved in sports if you are athletic, join the school band if you play (or want to learn) an instrument, or get involved in school theater productions.[9]
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    • Participating in extracurricular activities looks great on college and job applications.
    • Getting involved in extracurricular activities is also a great way to connect with new people and to discover interests and skills you didn’t even know you had.
  3. Talk with your teachers after class. Developing a relationship with your teachers can help you to stand out as well. Talking with your teachers will give you a chance to show them that you are interested in their class and to get to know you a bit better. It is also important for your success in school to talk to your teachers whenever you have a question or need help.[10]
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    • Try saying something like, “I really enjoyed today’s lesson. Can you recommend a book that will tell me more about this subject?”
    • Or you could ask about an assignment, such as by saying, “What types of sources do you recommend for the final paper?”
  4. Raise your hand and speak up. Speaking up in class when your teacher asks a question is another great way to stand out in school. Your teachers will also appreciate your participation. You don’t have to offer an answer to every question your teachers ask, but if you think you know the answer to a question, raise your hand. Even if the answer is not the right one, your teacher will notice that you tried and they will most likely appreciate your effort.[11]
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    • For example, if your math teacher puts a problem up on the board and you think you know the answer, raise your hand!
  5. Talk with a school counselor for more help. If you feel isolated or invisible at school, then it is important to talk to someone who can help. Most schools have a school counselor on hand who you can meet with and speak confidentially about your concerns. They may be able to help you find ways to feel better or direct you to someone outside of school who can help, such as a therapist.
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    • Keep in mind that if you tell any school employee that you are thinking about harming yourself or others, they will have to report this.

EditGetting Noticed in Social Situations

  1. Make a great first impression. You only get one chance to make a first impression and it is important to make it count! When you are meeting someone new, make sure that you do everything you can to make a great first impression. This will help you to stand out.[12]
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    • For example, if you are meeting someone for a first date, make sure that you have practiced your entrance, introduction, and anything else that might come up in the first few minutes of meeting the person.
    • Try telling a joke, wearing a flashy new outfit, or picking an interesting place to meet the person.
  2. Be a good listener. Listening can also help you to stand out since not everyone possesses this important skill. Develop your listening skills and practice them whenever you get a chance.[13]
    Stand Out Step 13.jpg
    • For example, you can practice good listening skills when your teacher is explaining the daily homework, when your best friend tells you about their day, or when your boss is describing a special project.
    • To be a good listener, make eye contact and nod to show you are paying attention, rephrase what the person says to show them that you understood them, and ask questions to show your interest in what they are saying.
  3. Show kindness to everyone. Kindness is not a trait everyone possesses either, so showing kindness to everyone can also help you to stand out. Be nice to everyone you meet or interact with even if you have nothing to gain by being nice to them.[14]
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    • For example, if there is a new student in your class, invite them to have lunch with you. If your office has just hired an intern for the summer, then let them know you are available if they have any questions.
  4. Keep your positions on important issues at the forefront of your mind. While you may not always want to voice an opinion on divisive issues, staying focused on your opinion while listening to other people can help you to stay true to yourself. By maintaining your stance, you may also avoid giving in to requests and ideas that you are against.[15]
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    • For example, if you have a strong opinion on who should win the next presidential election, then you might keep this idea in mind any time you are involved in a conversation where people are discussing the election. If an opportunity arises for you to chime in, then you might simply state your position, even if you are in the minority.
    • Keep in mind that voicing an unpopular opinion may cause people to ridicule you and this can be upsetting. If that seems likely, then you may want to keep your ideas to yourself for the moment and wait until you can talk about them with someone who will be more understanding.
  5. Take pride in your appearance. Looking your best can also help you to feel your best, and this may help you to stand out. Take time each day to shower, put on clothes that make you feel good, and style your hair.[16]
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    • Try buying yourself a new outfit or getting a new haircut to help you look and feel your best.
    • The goal of looking your best is to help you feel more confident, but if you lack confidence then you might want to work on that first.
    • As you strive to look your best, avoid trying to look like other people. Decide what types of clothing, shoes, and accessories you like to wear and be proud of your individuality.[17]
  6. Stand tall. Good posture can go a long way towards boosting your confidence, which may also help you to stand out. Remind yourself throughout the day to stand up straight with your chin up and shoulders back.[18]
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    • Try setting a reminder to stand up straight on your phone so that you can keep your posture in check throughout the day.
  7. Make eye contact. Looking people in the eye will help to show that you are confident, which may also help you to stand out. When you meet someone new or when you are having a conversation with someone, make sure to look them in the eye.[19]
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    • Keep your gaze natural and avoid staring. It’s okay to blink and look away now and then.
  8. Smile. Smiling at people will show them that you are friendly and approachable, which can also help you to stand out. Smile at your friends, coworkers, classmates, and any new people you meet.[20]
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    • Smile however you normally would and don’t try to exaggerate it or fake a smile.

EditSources and Citations

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