When Abraham Lincoln took the Oath of Office as the 16th President of the United States in March of 1861, the country was anything but “united.” The country was so divided over issues such as slavery and individual rights that seven southern states had seceded from the Union, and the nation was on the brink of Civil War. Facing these obstacles, Lincoln could have easily and understandably succumbed to the pressure and relented to the demands of the South, but his values prevented him from doing so. He was willing to face an unprecedented War within the United States for what he believed to be fundamentally right.
History, both ancient and recent, is filled with examples of ordinary people acting extraordinarily and according to their values in the face of overwhelming challenges. People who refused to accept things they felt were wrong with the world, and who truly believed they alone could make a difference. People, such as Rosa Parks, who simply could not wait any longer for someone to act on her behalf.
In the face of personal harm and the risk of arrest, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus, singularly protesting the accepted laws of segregation, thus beginning the Civil Rights Movement.
When people follow their passion and act upon what they know in their hearts to be right, amazing things can happen. All change begins with an individual—an individual who sees something wrong with the world or perhaps something that can be improved upon, and has the courage to initiate the change.
The trick, of course, is to find something you are passionate about. What types of things are important to you and what can you do about it? Next, you must act. No stone begins to roll without the first push, and you alone can get the ball rolling and create positive change that supports your personal values. Don’t wait around for someone else to do what you can start right now. It’s not easy, but when you truly believe in something you’ll find that the motivation to continue will come very easily.
As a simple Catholic Nun, Mother Theresa dedicated her life to helping those less fortunate. She refused to accept that people should be hungry or denied medical care simply because of where they lived or their circumstances. She took personal responsibility for what she believed was wrong and acted accordingly. She was neither rich nor powerful. She did not seek fame or fortune. She simply wanted things to change because they were not aligned properly based upon her value system.
Isn’t it possible that you too could take a cause you believe in and make it your own? What could you do to improve upon this world?
All too often in life, we wait around for someone else to instigate the changes we want to see. We doubt our own ability and become paralyzed to action, thinking either we are not solely capable of bringing the changes about, or that someone else will get around to it. This inability to act alone is all in our head. Each journey begins with a single step, and our first step may set in motion a journey that could change the world.
The world is indeed a better place thanks to Lincoln, Parks and Mother Theresa. Their values and the courage to act upon them changed the status quo and set in motion events that make this earth a better place to live. The only “special power” they shared was an unshakeable belief in what they thought to be right and the guts to do something about it. Individuals can make a difference, and it begins by answering two simple questions:
1. What’s wrong with this?
2. What can I do about it?
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In a tough economy, where good jobs are scarce, it stands to reason that employers become a bit more selective in the hiring process. Below are five tips that will help you stand out and secure the job you want:
1. Clarify What You Want
2. Sell Yourself
3. What Are You Good At?
4. The Resume: Get Noticed
5. Be Bold
Clarify What You Want
What do you like to do? Asking yourself this simple question is perhaps the most crucial step when searching for employment.
Each day millions of people worldwide set out for jobs they hate, trading misery for a paycheck. Work is nothing more than that part of their lives that much be suffered to make the rest of their lives possible. As a result, these workers seldom reach their potential, which is unfair both to themselves and their employers. Conversely, people content in their jobs, are much more productive and thus more likely to create value for the company or organization.
The first step when planning your career should be defining the type of work you find rewarding and satisfying. Work is where you will spend the bulk of your waking hours, so choosing a job you enjoy will naturally make your life more fulfilling. This passion will be evident to employers as well, who are searching for candidates that bring the most overall value. One employee, who will perform tasks willingly and enthusiastically, is often better than many who will not.
So before you begin your employment search, have a clear written description of what you really want to do. It will show.
What makes you so special? During tough times, when jobs are scarce, it’s important to spend some time preparing an answer to that question. Naturally, employers want to hire the top candidate for the job, and what you’ve accomplished in the past is all they really have to rely upon. Take some time and write the story you want employers to see.
Create a short autobiography which lists your accomplishments. Include goals you’ve set and reached, praise from past employers and awards you’ve received. Make it effortless for prospective employers to uncover who you are and determine what you can offer. Remember, if you neglect to write your own story, employers will be obligated to construct their own.
What Are You Good At?
Remember, in step one, you answered the question, “What do you like to do?” This next question, “What are you good at?” is equally significant when deciding upon a career path. Why? Consider this:
Regardless of my zeal for working on cars, I recognize that a certain amount of skill is essential in executing these tasks. Regrettably, these are skills I do not and, in all probability, never will possess. This impasse between what people enjoy and what they do well is one that many will encounter, and it can cause them a great deal of unnecessary anguish. But instead of allowing this conflict to serve as a justification for surrender, use it instead as a valuable learning tool. Remember, this is just one skill you don’t possess among the many that you do.
Be candid with yourself and select a career involving the skills and abilities you already have. Build upon and perfect those skills, and strive to become the very best at what you do well.
The Resume: Get Noticed
In certain scenarios, your resume may be the only tool you have to ensure getting noticed by potential employers. When prized positions become open, especially during a recession, the demand for them is exceedingly high. Often employers will receive hundreds of resumes for a sole position, and from them they will select only a few. So how do you ensure your resume will get noticed? These three small tips may help:
- Create a resume that looks professional. Present what you want employers to see on a single page which is clear and easy to understand. Check it thoroughly for spelling and punctuation and make certain that all your information is current.
- Present information that is relevant to the position for which you are applying. Shape your resume to highlight the education and experience employers are looking for and eliminate the unnecessary filler.
- Follow up. There’s a fine line between professional courtesy and harassment. Walk it. Contact potential employers once to confirm that your resume was received, and thank them for their consideration. This small step may help get your resume to the top of the pile.
When jobs are scarce, the ability to stand out in a crowd becomes enormously important. Try and invent a creative, yet appropriate strategy, designed to set you apart from the masses. Here are three examples of what others have tried:
· One woman sent one of her baby shoes to the hiring manager along with her resume with a note that said “let me get my foot in the door.” She got the interview and the job.
· Show up to the interview with a strong piece of work you’ve created which illuminates your abilities. When the interview is completed, ask the employer if you can leave this behind for their review.
· On the cover letter you will send with your resume, instead of using the phrase, I look forward to hearing from you, as many do, be a bit more definitive. Try this instead; I will call you on Thursday, November 23, to answer any questions you may have.
Apply these simple tips to your job search as soon as you can. It’s simple, yet it may make all the difference. The amount of time you spend in preparation could pay huge dividends down the road.