Why Cover Letters Count

If you want to improve your odds, you cannot forget your cover letter.Ever wondered if you should bother writing a cover letter to send with your resume? You’re not alone.  Join me over at Careerealism where I am answering the question “Why Cover Letters Count.”

Convinced? Find out more with ”9 Ways to Get Your Cover Letter Read.”

 

Kristin S. Johnson CARW, CCMC, CJSS, COPNS, CG3C, 360 
Reach Analyst Profession Direction, LLC 
www.ProfessionDirection.com

5 Deep Thoughts for Getting the Most from Your Job Search in 2014

Deep Thoughts on Wisconsin Ice

Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

Blogging is a lot like working out. If you get out of the habit, it’s easy to stay out of the habit. Taking a week off because you are sick turns into a week of being sick, plus another week because you’ve got so much to catch up on, plus maybe another week because of some other random excuse, and so on. The longer you stay away from it, the harder it is to pick it back up. Maybe you think that it is going to be too hard to begin again, instead of telling yourself that it’s okay to encounter a setback and just get back into the habit.

For a while now, I’ve been out of the habit of blogging (and exercising, too, but that’s another story). I keep putting off getting restarted. “I have to get my new website contents finished.” “I have to update my e-Book first.” “I have to floss my teeth first.” The excuses did become a little ridiculous after a while.

But recently, I have had some deep thoughts that have been too helpful in my life not to share with you. They aren’t Stuart Smalley deep. They are real, life-changing deep.

In general, I’m a very sensitive, deep person. Yes, I do have my silly, fun-loving side, but I really do think very introspectively about what is happening in my life and in the lives of those around me. Sometimes, I share these ponderings on my blog or on my Facebook page, but I do tend to avoid being overly serious or “woo-woo.” Also, the need to give practical, easy-to-implement advice often overrides emotional revelations.

This is going to be one of my more contemplative posts. It is the end of the year, after all, when people are thinking about what they have accomplished, what they would have done differently, and what goals they have in the upcoming year. Plus, I’ve had a lot of time to think lately.

A few weeks ago, I fractured my wrist. While it was extremely painful, I did have a lot of fun leading up to the injury. I had gone ice-skating with some friends and my daughter. As a girl, I was quite a good figure skater. My father had been a hockey coach at St. Norbert College when I was very little. So, I was practically born with ice skates on.

When I got older, my priorities changed, and I stopped skating. I was better than most, but I wasn’t that good, after all. Before my recent venture out onto the ice, it had been probably 15 years since I skated. But, I couldn’t resist when it came to my attention that a friend had never been ice-skating. Of course, I wanted to show off a little.

How invigorating stepping back out onto the ice! I was just getting comfortable skating backwards, doing crossovers, and doing a few spins. But I quickly learned that my balance isn’t what it used to be. An attempt to do a fancier spin quickly ended in a fall.

I had taken a risk. Pushed myself. And, smashed down to the hard ice, fracturing my wrist in three places.

During my recovery, I’ve had to get a lot more rest to help myself heal. Deep thoughts have accompanied this period of inactivity. Many of them are useful in a job search and are good things to think about going into the new year. So I am breaking my blogging procrastination and sharing them with you.

Deep thought #1: Don’t beat yourself up.

On my way to the emergency room, I completely lost it. I knew what I have tried to do was totally stupid. I berated myself for not taking it slower, for trying to do something too risky. I was a basket case.

After the shock wore off, I knew that focusing on my mistake in this way was not going to help me. I made a mental list of what I would do differently had I to do it over again, and then started making a plan for my recovery and subsequent months of not being able to drive.

Staying in a negative space would surely have led to a period of depression. Making my recovery all the more difficult.

This is no different than how it feels to lose a job or do poorly in an interview. If something crappy happens to you in your career, say your peace, learn from the errors of your ways, then make a plan and move on. You have to deal with the situation and have those real painful emotions, of course. But staying stuck there just doesn’t help anyone.

Deep thought #2: No regrets.

Even though I got injured, I would still go ice skating. I don’t regret that for a second. It felt absolutely fantastic and liberating to have the cold breeze blowing through my hair again and it was a great bonding experience with my daughter.

I have forgiven myself for not wearing wrist guards and for making the mistake that I made. I’ve learned from it and I will do things differently in the future. So what is the point in regret?

Regret in a job search, in your career at all, just makes you angry and bitter. It can prevent you from taking risks that can lead to rewarding experiences and great things. Who wants to work with a person like that or who is limited in that way? Those emotions are quickly perceived in an interview and can prevent you from landing the job. Instead, remember self-forgiveness, self-improvement, and self-confidence.

Deep thought #3: Start small.

Next time, I’ll go skating a few more times before taking the risk I took that resulted in my injury. I’d have a few Saturdays at the rink and maybe some lessons before trying a Sitz spin.

Most jobseekers start their search by jumping in and applying for jobs right off the bat, instead of dissecting what their preferences are, doing informational interviews, and researching their target. This can lead to a very disorganized and confusing job search, which is not what an employer is looking for.

Remember this advice from Vincent van Gogh, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Take the time to get real specific about your target, breaking the stages of your job search down into manageable pieces so that you can be more organized and portray more self-confidence to that target.

Deep thought #4: Ask for help.

While I have been recovering, I have been listening to a lot of podcasts. I came across this TED Talk that’s so apropos to my life right now. Explains a lot about why it’s been hard to ask for help while being injured, and also why it’s so hard for job seekers to ask for help while networking.

We have a lot of hang-ups about asking for help. Whether it’s the fear of rejection, the desire to be self-reliant, or a feeling of not being deserving, figure it out and get over it! Because if you don’t, and you continue to not ask for help from people you know, your career advancement, and your life, will be hampered.

After listening to this, I decided that asking for help is not going to be so hard anymore. It’s just that simple. How can you ask for help with your job search or career? And, reassure yourself that it’s OK?

Deep thought #5: Set goals and make them public.

It may sound funny, but I actually had to set the goal of doing nothing this weekend. To get my wrist to heal, to get the swelling to go down faster, I had to focus on keeping my arm immobilized and iced. I had to stop doing things myself that I shouldn’t be doing. For those of you who know me, this was no small task.

I reached out to friends on Facebook for help in getting things done and to come spend some time with me, ensuring that I would follow doctor’s orders. It would have been easy for me to regress, beating myself up all over again for causing this injury. But, the encouraging comments from my friends giving me permission to slack off helped me to stay positive. That public commentary has been so helpful.

My goal was only for a weekend because I knew I could attain that and it would create some forward momentum. Looking out into the future, I know there is a long road ahead of me, but I’m starting small. Then, I will extend my goal to next week, asking help from my family to make Christmas dinner. Which I will not regret because it will give my daughter a chance to cook, and she loves cooking.

See how it’s all tied together? If you start small (#3) with your goals (#5) for job search with the hopes of, say, going to two networking events next week, and create a social media post asking for ideas (#4, #5), you’ll get suggestions for things to do, people to meet, possibly even leads. And, you will get encouragement that will prevent you from being hard on yourself about your situation (#1, #2). In fact, you may even find yourself getting excited about the new possibilities that are coming to you.

So what are the new possibilities to get excited about that come out of having a broken wrist? It’s hard to think about the positives here, since it’s so painful and inconvenient. I have to be honest. But, there are good things that are coming from it. I have a new appreciation for my father, who is help me tremendously through this time. I have some good friends who have been incredibly helpful; it’s wonderful to feel that sense of gratitude. My children have been amazing, too.

When something like this (or like a job search) happens to you, because it is life after all, I hope these deep thoughts might help you through it like they have helped me. And remember, just like I am getting back on the wagon with my blog, you can also restart your efforts toward your goals in 2014.

Happy holidays and best wishes for a happy, healthy New Year,

Kristin S. Johnson CARW, CCMC, CJSS, COPNS, CG3C, 360 
Reach Analyst Profession Direction, LLC 
www.ProfessionDirection.com