Use Your Superpowers

If you are a superhero, you most certainly have a superpower. Though I’m no expert, it seems that most superheroes have various formidable abilities, as well as a few unique powers that set them apart. Captain America’s powers are strength and agility while Spider-Man’s is his ability to jump and climb. Jean Grey can control minds and the Invisible Woman, can, you guessed it, become invisible. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been home with Netflix learning a lot about superheroes lately.

Superheroes are not limited to those on the big screen or from DC Comics. In all walks of life there are individuals who have special abilities that can be used for the greater good. I’m reminded that Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who passed away recently and was a U.S. Supreme Court justice, was thought of as a superhero based on her life’s commitment to advancing women.

Of course, you might not feel like a superhero sometimes – maybe a super flop. But your worst day is probably not as bad as a superhero’s: you didn’t destroy a planet, right? We all have a superpower, maybe more than one. And these powers are important to use to promote a career and find work. You just have to find it, practice it, and of course, only use it only for good.

Here are a few superpowers and how you might use them to your advantage:

1. Writing Like a Superhero

We all can write of course, but some of us are really good at it. For some their strength is in writing fiction such as stories and narratives about experiences and characters that capture our imagination. Others can write business prose and hammer out precisely worded reports and studies.

For many positions, writing is the sine qua non – the indispensable requirement – for hiring (and some writers are even good at showing off a bit of Latin once in a while). If writing is your thing, emphasize it in your application. Make sure your resume is peppered with citations and hyperlinks to your best writing. If you are submitting your application in paper, include a hard copy article or research piece that highlights your abilities. More importantly, apply for positions where good writing is required.

2. Networking and Making Presentations Superpower

Maybe you are a natural. You easily connect with people and are not intimidated when meeting new colleagues and professionals. Not everyone is comfortable in their skin (and some superheroes do have a particular skin!). But for you when you meet people for the first time, you don’t trip over your words: you can make a good impression and say what is needed in the moment.

Increasingly companies and organizations require every professional to be their own “PR” department. A job might require that you might communicate in person or online much of your day. With your superpower, you are able to make a passionate, relevant, and personable case for your employer. Make sure when you apply for a job where making connections and presenting are important, that you show or provide examples of your efforts. Maybe you are on YouTube giving a talk? Or have been interviewed by a news outlet?

3. Tech and Social Media Superhero

Maybe you are a wiz at social media and keep up with the latest trends and apps. You know what forms of social media are most effective in a particular situation. Your familiarization is not only with traditional means like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn, but with novel new means that are tailored to younger professionals — Instagram or Snapchat, for instance.

Today, every professional needs to be social media competent. But you are an expert. So be sure to show a prospective employer what you have produced, and more importantly, the impact of the social media you have used. Have you increased sales? Brought in new members or clients?

4. Superhero of Multitasking, Quick Learning, and Rapid Response, or Just Getting it Done!

Many places demand quick response and the anticipation of changes and disruptions. You are a multitasker, but more importantly, are flexible and a quick learner. You can adjust to any situation – in the moment! You can put a fire out (literally and figuratively!). You also have the ability to anticipate problems around the bend.

It is a fast-paced world where businesses and organizations need to react and respond quickly to changing conditions and crises. Taking advantage of opportunities is critical to being on the cutting edge and producing good work. If you a person who can stay on task, work on deadline, respond quickly, and get it done, you are a superhero.

When you apply for a job make sure to share stories of how you have used your superpowers to save the day (or maybe even the planet)!

—David J. Smith

David J. Smith (Fulbright Scholar, Estonia 2003-2004) is a career coach and the author of Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (Information Age Publishing 2016). He is on the career advisory board of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network. David writes regularly on career issues at davidjsmithconsulting.com. He can reached at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.

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