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It’s not your grandfather’s job market anymore. We live in a fast-paced, highly competitive world, where the path to success is becoming less linear.

It’s no longer a guarantee that just because you have a college degree and took the “right” steps that there will be a stable, cushy job waiting for you.

If you want to get a job with a company that you admire and care about it requires standing out and making an impact.

Some companies might want a conformist drone that fits in and does whatever they say, but other more progressive companies are looking for someone who has a voice and stands for something significant.

Seth Godin calls this being a Linchpin, or the “indispensable” employee who always seeks to become a more valuable contributor.

Here’s how you can become more indispensable and distinguish yourself in your career.

1. Have a compelling vision

There are countless options and paths we can take professionally, so having a compelling vision for your future is a powerful first step to not slip between the cracks.

Having a personal vision shows you’re an ambitious forward thinker who knows what you want. Your vision is a statement about the aspirations and mission for your life.

Having a compelling vision will help you stand out as a leader whom sees greater possibilities. When someone asks you, “where do you see yourself in five years,” it’s important to have clear direction. Don’t be afraid to declare an inspiring vision of plans to be incredibly successful.

2. Show grit and resiliency

Everyone has a story about when they’ve faced adversity and came away victorious. What’s your story of triumph? When have you been resilient in the face of hardships?

The story doesn’t need to be incredibly personal and revealing, but examples of where you became stronger through your struggles will show you’re someone who can rise to a challenge.

Build grit and resilience by maintaining a growth mindset. Don’t be afraid to fail and confront obstacles. Practice being more adaptable and managing unexpected change.

3. Be an innovative self-starter

What have you created that you’re most proud of? Maybe you’ve written poetry or music, or you’ve started your own blog or have your personal domain name that showcases your brand.

Think about situations where you added value from a unique contribution and stepped-up to take action.

The trait of creativity and initiative will be recognized as transferable. Think of examples where you solved unique problems or when you’ve been an original thinker, and consider how you can incorporate this capability into your work.

4. Reveal the leader within

Even if we don’t have a formal leadership title, we’re all in a position to act as a leader in one way or another. Where in your life do you lead? When have you stepped into the shoes of a leader?

If you don’t often show up as a leader make an effort to be more bold and practice acting in a leadership role. Start with informal relationships such as family and friends. Practice communicating your vision and learn about how you can help these people improve their lives. It’s important to show you have the ability to connect with others and to rally people around a mission for a better future.

5. Grow relationship assets

Every company is going to be interested in a connector who brings complementary people together. The more people you can connect to each other and provide value for, the more indispensable you become.

Make the shift to interact with people from a relational perspective, not just a transactional one. Look for a mentor who you admire and learn how to create reciprocal value. Identify key partners at your job or in the community to build a network of social resources who can serve each other.

It’s important to stay resourceful and enterprising in a competitive job market. Different careers require different skills and talents, but hopefully these five qualities can help you progress and advance toward your professional goals.

What would you add? What qualities are important to stand out in your profession?

Photo credit: The 5th Ape