Life’s most persistent and urgent question: What are you doing for others?

The title of this post comes from a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, spoken to an audience in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1957, and often repeated throughout his life’s work. Dr. King is widely remembered for leading a radical, nonviolent civil-rights movement that rippled across the world. Today we commemorate his life in the same way he lived it, by giving back to others.

Volunteering in our community is an obvious way to give back, but there are also substantial benefits for job seekers. Service opportunities can be an additional way to increase your network, keep your skills fresh and maybe even learn a few new things. It can also be a creative strategy to address any gaps in the work experience listed on your resume. Volunteer experience may or may not impress a hiring manager, but it certainly won’t hurt. Here’s what some of our team has to say about our favorite organizations and what keeps us motivated:

Following the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it can be helpful to refocus our attention on building community and helping those around us. Today, and every day, we’re thankful for the legacy of Dr. King and for those of you who continue to contribute to our vibrant community.

Share your favorite organizations or service opportunities in the comments section. How do you choose to #giveback?

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Networking your way through the new year

Happy New Year from all of us at Peak Performers!

It’s the start of another rotation around the sun, and many people are full of resolutions — to eat healthier, to exercise more, and maybe even to make the world a slightly better place.

My guess is that most of you haven’t thought much about networking.

Schmoozing can seem intimidating for some, but we’ve got a few unconventional tips to help you excel in your job search and perhaps be a better person in the process.

Get to know your neighbors. According to a report last year from City Observatory, about one in three Americans say they have never interacted with the people right next door. When you’re buried deep in the throes of the job hunt, it’s important not to isolate yourself. Why not start with sharing a meal with the folks across the street? They might even know a few hiring managers.

It’s tough looking for work, and it’s even more uncomfortable asking other people for help. But you never know when the right connection can lead to your perfect job. Surrounding yourself with a small community of close friends, neighbors and family can go a long way for your emotional and mental support.

Be a good person. Muhammad Ali once said that service to others is “the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Volunteering can be an excellent way to make new connections in your field while keeping your skills fresh and filling any gaps in your resume. It’s also the right thing to do.

Check out volunteermatch.org for a searchable list of opportunities with organizations in Austin, or catchafire.org for a list of projects and skills-based opportunities across the country. Additionally, it’s important to treat everyone you meet like a potential hiring manager. A stranger today could eventually become your boss or client down the road. More importantly, we should treat everyone we meet with respect, whether or not they can useful to us (#NoteToSelf).

Keep an open mind. Networking is a lifelong process, and it can take some time before you see any practical benefits. But if you’ve been attending the same job club for ten months, and it hasn’t led to anything constructive, we might suggest that you try something else. If you’ve been tweeting and posting online with few results, you might consider a new strategy.

If it’s not working, do something different. Set up informational interviews. Join a new trade association, alumni group, job seeker network, or job club program. Keeping an open mind, even if networking isn’t your thing, can go a long way towards finding the right connections.

As you march onward into the New Year, we wish you a lifetime of new connections, fresh job leads, and renewed inspiration. Our vision remains the same — to set a new standard of employment for people with disabilities.

What are some of your New Year’s resolutions?

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