Today, far too many job hunters are leaving out one of the most essential skills for a successful career -- creativity. As a result, talk to a typical job hunter, and chances are, they're doing the same things as everyone else: getting the right degree, attending job fairs, networking events, and scouring the Internet. But if you're doing the same exact thing as everyone else, that simply means you're fighting enormous competition.
In writing and researching my new book: "One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do," I discovered a powerful key to getting noticed in the job market today: being unique, standing out, and becoming different from the pack. That's why my recommendation to job hunters is to get the kind of unique experience that makes you much more attractive -- the kind of experience that nonprofit organizations have in abundance.
Working as a media consultant and film producer for nonprofit organizations, I've navigated the headwaters of the Amazon River, experienced a military coup in Africa, lived with the Bedouins on the Middle East, spoken at creative conferences in India, and helped medical teams in the most remote parts of the planet. I've seen nonprofit volunteers and employees making a difference for thousands in disaster areas, teaching students whose parents have been killed in war, and digging water wells in Third World countries.
The bottom line? Those experiences give you a resume that few can top. After all, what does a middle manager at a software firm bring to the table, compared to a nonprofit employee who's led an initiative to feed, clothe, or house 10,000 refugees? What can a human resources job teach you about people, after you've negotiated with the elders of a local tribe to set up a medical clinic in the African bush?
If you're struggling in the job market, perhaps you need something that makes you stand out and get noticed. The kind of experience that overshadows anything you could learn in a retail environment or office. And trust me, there are plenty of local or international opportunities out there -- just do an Internet search for nonprofit or religious organizations in your area.
Changing someone else's life, could be the key to transforming your own.
Follow Phil Cooke, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/philcooke