Set yourself apart.

We’ve entered an interesting epoch in our history. We live in a time where there is an extremely large amount of skilled, knowledgeable and qualified people. This is true in almost every field, and especially true in the Western world.

Today tens of millions of people have college degrees—which is a far greater number than ever before. So how do you differentiate yourself from the vast numbers of equally qualified candidates when you go to pitch yourself to an employer?

Seems like an uphill battle, right?

While it may be a difficult fight, we do have one distinct advantage. In addition to being the most credentialed generation in history, we also have access to more information, tools, and platforms to showcase our skills than any other generation in history.

How does this help you?

To understand that, you first need to understand why a business wants to hire you in the first place. The reason is deceivingly simple. The only reason a smart employer wants to hire you is that they believe you will add more value to the operation than you are taking out in the form of salary, benefits, infrastructure, etc. If they didn’t think you would bring in more money for the business than they pay you, they wouldn’t hire you.

This is a basic business and economic fact.

So how can you set yourself apart? All you have to do is make it very easy for them to see that you are a person that can creatively, consistently and productively create value.

A college degree used to indicate this sufficiently. And though a degree is still a critical signal and proof of value creation in many fields, they don’t necessarily differentiate you from the pack. Like I said, millions of people have a bachelor degree or higher these days.

The key is to not wait for when it’s time to get a job to start using the skills you learn in the classroom. It’s to just start doing what you’d like to do, right now. Gone are the days when sitting in class taking notes and getting good grades were enough to land you the career you wanted. You need to have deliberate purpose, cultivate your career as early as you can, and make the most out of your early career or time in college.

Consider you’re hiring someone for a marketing role at your company. What would impress you more, a candidate who spent the last four years learning about marketing and just now wants to start putting the concepts into practice, or someone who used what they learned and ran a successful campaign on Teespring, or maybe successfully opened and marketed a store on Etsy?

I think the answer is clear.

Whatever your skill is, whatever profession you’d like to join, there is probably very little stopping you from doing it right now. The pivotal point is to just try things. Experiment. Put your ideas and your work out in the real world to be judged. If you succeed, great. If not, then you’ve still learned a great deal more than you would have if you’d just sat in a classroom.

Build yourself a website, start a video blog, build an app, open an Ebay store, create a photography portfolio. Take charge of your future, and start doing right now what you’d like to do for a career. Adopt the mantra of show, don’t tell.

Take your projects and physical deliverables to your next job interview, failed or successful. Show your potential employer proof that you can do what you say you can do. Prove that you can start creating value for them on day one.

Your projects are the practical experience that will be your proof of value creation. That is what you will take to your future employer, and that is why they will hire you over all the others.

Posts in the Life section are intended to allow our readers to discuss how they understand the principles of Objectivism and apply them in their own lives.

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Ryan Miller is a freelance marketer living in Downtown Detroit. He enjoys answering history questions on Quora and is currently building his own marketing business.