The 8 'rarest' types of employees—they 'simply outperform everyone else,' says career expert

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Your strengths are the foundation of your brand, and owning them is the key to making a mark in your professional life.

As a career and branding expert who has consulted CEOs and big companies like Google and Microsoft, I help people discover what differentiates them from their competitors.

Are you an innovator overflowing with creative ideas? Are you a leader who inspires people to exceed goals? Or are you a maverick — everything the traditional leader stands for, you stand for the opposite?

Based on my 40 years of experience, here are the rarest types of employees who simply outperform everyone else:

1. The Innovator

  • You see unique opportunities for innovation during times of crisis or change.
  • The more complicated a problem is, the more excited you get.
  • You're the first to ask, "What if we tried doing this another way?"
  • You can be impulsive and change your mind a lot, which only serves to heighten your creativity.

Everyone talks about thinking outside the box, but innovators really do. They often diverge from the norm in their thinking, and they're not hampered by what other people think.

2. The Leader

  • You have what it takes to motivate and lead people to achieve, and even exceed, their goals.
  • Solving problems and overseeing complex plans are in your DNA.
  • You always have a clear mission that unites the team around a common goal.
  • People see you as a big picture thinker and they respond to your call to action.

In a world clouded by conflict, leaders have never been more important. We admire them not just for their accomplishments and title, but for their ability to inspire us to tackle big challenges and achieve great things.

3. The Maverick

  • You're confident enough to avoid following the established path.
  • Your outsider perspective and self‐sufficiency makes you an independent thinker.
  • You can be aggressive, egocentric and disagreeable, but you're also extroverted, lively and spontaneous.
  • You know how to energize your message with unusual stories to captivate your audience.

Mavericks make bureaucrats nervous because of their philosophy, "If it ain't broken, break it." They are known for having contrary points of view, but they always have a loyal group of supporters.

4. The Engineer

  • You like to fiddle with objects, ideas or processes to see if you can make them better.
  • If things don't meet your expectations, you criticize not only others but also yourself.
  • You tend to be an introvert and more of a loner than a party animal.
  • People see you as detailed-oriented yet creative.

Perhaps no other work personality is as methodical and process oriented as the engineer. Engineers use a consistent process that they apply, which includes phases, steps and procedures to solve a problem.

5. The Expert

  • Your special topic is your passion, and you stay in touch with new developments in your area of expertise.
  • Your goal is to make an important contribution to your field as an expert.
  • You make deliberate decisions based on intense research and analysis.
  • Reliability is part of your DNA.

People have trust in experts because they have credentials that demonstrate they know one thing really well. It could be education, job experience, projects, awards, research, certifications, apprenticeships and media recognition.

6. The Target Marketer

  • You not only understand your target audience, you connect with them deeply.
  • You're always coming up with new ideas that will delight your users.
  • You're a good listener, highly attentive, and considerate toward your clients.
  • In return, your clients trust that you have their interests foremost in your mind.

Target marketers identify with their audience and feel empathy toward them. Their goal is to know them better and solve their needs better than anyone else.

7. The Elite

  • You're among the top tier in your line of work.
  • You're sought after because of your connections.
  • You like luxury and buy only the top quality in everything to maintain a high standard of living.
  • You've never been accused of having imposter syndrome. You have high self‐esteem and self‐confidence.

Elites are ambitious and determined, and they know people. They're proud of their achievements and are well-paid. In their minds, they earned it and are worth every penny.

8. The Cause

  • You feel confident and hopeful that you can change the world.
  • You're empathetic and react emotionally when you see unfairness or the suffering of others.
  • Sometimes you feel overwhelmed and under too much pressure from the requests of others, but you have a hard time saying "no."
  • People see you as trustworthy, reliable and always willing to help out.

Being synonymous with a cause has propelled many people onto a bigger stage. Think of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai and her fight for girls' education, or the climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

Catherine Kaputa is the founder of SelfBrand and the author of "The New Brand You: How to Wow in the New World of Work." As a career and branding expert, she has given presentations and held workshops at major companies like Google, Microsoft and PepsiCo. Follow her on Twitter @catherinekaputa.

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