How Being Qualified is Not Enough

Abby Locke
3 min readAug 12, 2020


Recently, I completed a personal branding strategy session with a new client and I challenged her with these questions:

“Why should an employer pick you over other qualified candidates who also have strong sales achievements? What makes you different?”

She was a little confused at first and then seemed really stumped as she pondered my questions further.

But were my questions valid? After all, don’t the employers and recruiters just need to know that you are qualified and you can do the job well?

Well, sure…but, what happens when the economy is in a recession and the job market really belongs to employers?

More importantly, when there are plenty of qualified candidates and few top paying, highly competitive jobs.

Consider this. Most candidates know what qualifications, experience and even strengths they are bring to the table. But what happens when the entire table has top candidates. What gives you an edge over others?

Well, that’s when you have to dig more and uncover differentiating factors, success themes, career trends until you can stand in pool where there is less competition.

Here are a few probing questions to help you out further.

For sales professionals, you have move beyond the numbers:

Your competition is likely to have great, quantifiable sales results, so just feeding employers and recruiters numbers is not going to work.

  • What your closing rate when compared to your sales colleagues?
  • Do you typically excel in selling products or services?
  • Is your sweet spot growing a mature product or breaking into a new market?
  • Do you routinely outperform industry standards in terms of market growth , customer acquisition or brand expansion?

For executives and leaders, you have to give the context and complexity behind the achievements:

Many successful executives and leaders will have impressive achievements to share, but sharing the story behind your success makes a big difference.

  • What was going on when you joined the company?
  • Did you lead through a global pandemic or corporate restructuring?
  • Were you instrumental in reaching a goal where others had failed?
  • Are there specific business challenges you are routinely asked to solve?

For general managers, do more than share a laundry list of your enormous job tasks:

Every industry needs general managers, but only highlighting your tactical strengths and omitting strategic leadership abilities will get you overlooked.

  • Is your “claim to fame” performing well in fast-paced, often chaotic environments with tight deadlines?
  • Can you leverage emerging technology to continuously improve operational effectiveness and efficiencies?
  • Is your career built on transformational, turnaround roles that stretched you each time?
  • What areas have your repeatedly excelled where others failed?

These are just a few examples to get you thinking more strategically about your professional strengths and how to differentiate yourself in the workplace.

While I did not focus on every industry or type of profession, you can apply some of the same questions and principles to your own career situation.

In the end, you want to keep chipping away until you find that “nugget” that makes you stand out.



Abby Locke

Abby Locke is a Master Resume Writer, Personal Brand Strategist and Career Storyteller at