Character is the only rank

September 26, 2016 by In Blog

Look folks, the truth is that whether you applying for a new job or to a Master’s Program or for a promotion in your company, you need to be YOU throughout the entire process.

Being YOU is all about having character and sharing your character with others. “Character is the only rank” was a phrase used by the English philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson and the French philosopher, Rousseau. Rank is referred to as your status in the army. You receive a ranking. You are a marine corps/soldier, a colonel or a sergeant.

It’s no longer about trying to do right, say the right thing, or think about what your manager wants to hear that’s going to get you a top rank. It’s about having character; being yourself, being transparent, following your values, being honest and truthful, taking ownership for your actions, taking responsibility and sharing your knowledge.

Recently, I was coaching a professional who works in the medical profession. He applied to a top Master’s Program in the States. He submitted his first application with a letter which was dry, conventional and impersonal. Basically, he highlighted his ‘RANK’ by showing his multiple degrees, his hours that he had interned and stated his motivation which was to be educated in a school with a reputation so that he could ensure his future success in life. He wasn’t selected.

I asked him, “why are you interested in this type of work? Why are you dedicating 60 hours per week to this activity?” He had an entire different story and motivation. He responded, “my brother was sick as a child and was maltreated by a medical professional. My father spent his life in this field as well. It’s been a passion of mine since I was 10 years old. I want to help patients have greater quality of life. I want to participate in new innovations and research and teach in the global community.” He re-submitted his application telling this story. He’s been selected .

So, instead of showing all your certificates, your diplomas, and showing off the titles where you have worked before, focus more on what matters to you. Who are you? What is your character? Do you think about other people in your day when you work and take decisions? Do you make sacrifices on occasion for other people? Do you use your heart in taking decisions or just remain stuck in your brain, like a robot.

The truth is that robots have brains which are programmed by humans. Robots are now becoming smarter than humans. But, Robots still don’t have hearts. So, let’s not lose touch of being human and that means listening to our heart on occasion too.

If the manager appreciates your core character and understands your attitude, motivational drivers and values, and appreciates them and then hires you for those traits, you will find yourself in a happy job that is right for you.

Erica Elias is a certified business and career coach (, author of “Recruitment A to Z, Tricks of the trade”, and has interviewed more than 6,000 people, with

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