How Being Weird Can Improve Your Job Prospects

Author: David McMillin       

“By being weird, you give me the opportunity to choose you because you stand out,” says Phil Gerbyshak, a sales trainer and marketing expert. (Rick Tauceda/Rick Visuals)

Expensive headshots, a string of initials at the end of names signifying industry certifications, and lists of noteworthy accomplishments — LinkedIn is a platform filled with career formalities, a place where members demonstrate how serious they are about being leaders and driving results. However, one social-media strategist and keynote speaker says it’s wise to include another bullet point to your professional description: what makes you weird.

“If you go to LinkedIn and search for ‘meeting professionals,’ there are likely hundreds of thousands of people who come up,” Phil Gerbyshak, a sales trainer and marketing expert, said in the PCMA webinar “Leverage Digital Media to Build Your Brand.” “I’m looking for that weirdo who is going to connect with me in a different way. By being weird, you give me the opportunity to choose you because you stand out.”

While many people who are aiming to increase their connections and search for new jobs may adhere to the traditional guidelines of making a LinkedIn profile their online resume, Gerbyshak said that taking that typical approach is dangerous. “The same doesn’t sell,” he said. “Often, same just bores people to tears. If you’re not different online, you’re not better online.”

Being weird doesn’t involve aiming to make potential employment recruiters or new contacts scratch their heads. It means celebrating your uniqueness. For example, Gerbyshak shared some of the ways he embraced his weirdness on his own LinkedIn profile. His headline highlights the fact that he is a sales trainer, but it also honors his status as a “pinball wizard.” And complementing his slightly wacky headshot with his tie flipped over his shoulder is his note: “Orange [eye]glasses are my fave!” Those who dig deeper into his profile will find a photo of him during his time in the military, along with a picture of him gearing up for an air guitar solo while singing karaoke with a founding member of Twister Sister. All these touches are designed to “make it easier to connect with me,” Gerbyshak said. “They make people say, ‘Huh? That’s interesting.’”

Interesting, though, only matters when you can connect the dots to your professional world. In other words, Gerbyshak said, “Explain why your weird is relevant.”

For example, one webinar participant shared that she had recently gone skydiving. Gerbyshak said that it’s important to think about what that activity conveys about her as an individual. Is she a risk-taker? Is she fun? How does it demonstrate what it will be like to work with her?

Interested in learning more about why it can pay off to show how you’re weird? Anyone can watch the entire Gerbyshak webinar for free.

David McMillin is a Convene associate editor.