4 Sentence Cover Letter

Here’s a brief video on crafting an effective cover letter.

Getting Your “Dream” Job, Some Tips

I wanted to share some tips for getting, what the presenters called your “dream” job. I do have a problem with the idea of “dream jobs” as they sound so romantic and out of reach. It’s not that I think it’s wrong to be ambitious, but a dream is ethereal and not real so I don’t think it’s a good term for our career aspirations. Yet, it’s catchy and probably why the session was approved.

The session was given by a successful Executive Director at a library and the executive recruiter who discovered her.

I’ll share the tip, explain it and then give my 2¢.

  1. When you see your dream job, set your cap for it.
    In a nutshell, if you see an ad for a job you love, don’t for a minute allow any doubts.
    Hmm. I have a more balanced outlook and believe this thinking is akin to looking for your soulmate. It might work out or it could lead to emotional devastation. In addition, it might mean you lose out on equally good opportunities that you hadn’t considered. I would say that if you have doubts, you can overcome them and perhaps you should listen to them. Develop your powers of discernment. If you’re job hunting with the rose-colored glasses of “dream jobs,” then my hunch is you might be setting yourself up for disappointment.
  2. When asked what you’re most proud of in your life, always tell them something about your career.
    Okay, I guess that’s what gets you the job, though it’s short-sighted.
    If I were hiring, I wouldn’t discount someone who shared something from their personal life to answer this. Actually, I doubt I’d ask this question. I have interviewed lots of people for the JET Programme and it’s just not a question that helps us determine who’d make a good assistant language teacher.
  3. Find typical interview questions online and practice your answers repeatedly.
    Seems sensible.
  4. Make sure you dress for the job that’s one level above what you’re applying for and make sure your shoes look good.
    People will scrutinize you so don’t overlook anything. At another job hunting program, I heard that you shouldn’t overdress. I suppose going more formal is better than dressing too casually.
  5. Always write a thank you note. 
    Most advisors suggest this. On Wednesday they also said not to contact them otherwise. Don’t be a pest. Well, if they keep you waiting for months, it’s hard to be so passive.
  6. Your cover letter should have flair.
    Here I’ve lately been straightforward and an attempt to prove how transferable my skills are. One speaker gave an example sentence when trying to move out of Youth Services to Adult Services in public libraries. She attributes her phrase that “Youth Services Librarians are mental gymnasts” to her getting an interview. So I do agree that being more clever can help. I do think too many gimmicks could backfire by making you sound odd. In ESL/EFL I don’t think such language is necessary, but if you know the field and its conventions use that knowledge when composing your letter.

I’ll share more soon.

I was surprised when someone asked about job posts that don’t specify the salary range. The executive recruiter said that it’s fine to call and ask. They may not say and you shouldn’t talk about money till later in the interview process. One reason jobs may not publish the salary range is that they may end up paying someone $70,000 for a job that’s range is actually $55,000. Then someone might sue if they found out saying, “I’d have applied if you said the range was up to $70,000.” I’m surprised that someone could sue based on that. I’m astonished that an employer would pay $15,000 or more above what the range is supposed to be.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m getting ready to go to Peoria for the Illinois Library Association Annual Conference. I’m volunteering so the registration fee is waived. It’s about a 2 hour drive so I’m able to borrow a car and have used hotel points so the trip is very economical. One day I hope to have a job where I don’t have to pay for such events out of my own pocket.

I have come to regret getting this Master of Library Science. As much as I love libraries, I have learned that while it looked from the outside that there were plenty of full time jobs for hard working, successful graduates, there aren’t. It’s a very costly field as you have to sacrifice years of full time work with benefits and take poorly paid part time work to get your foot in the door. So this week I ramped up my applications to other jobs outside libraries. Fingers crossed.

I highly recommend Coursera’s Manager’s Toolkit course. I’ve finished three weeks and the information is well researched and useful. On top of that it’s free!

Poldark S4 - EP2

I’d discuss Poldark, Season IV and if you haven’t seen the series, I’d urge your to watch. The characters are well drawn and the conflicts nail biting.

I want to add how demoralizing it was to see a friend I taught with in Japan. She’s smart and hardworking. She’s a single mother and wants to live in her hometown, the Bronx, where her older mother is. She has to cobble together a slew of part time ESL university jobs and never knows if she’ll have enough work to make ends meet. Schools don’t offer courses till the end of a semester and it’s hard to make the schedule of school A fit with the work offered by school B. Sadly, she qualifies for Medicaid. This is why I’m intent on leaving the field. This is no way for an educated person to live.

On a lighter note, I’d urge you to check out You Were Never Lovelier with Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth. I knew Astaire was a master at dance, but Hayworth also is.

Tell Me Something Good

monday-morning-inspiration-quotes-e1442491467149Tell Me Something Good is a simple challenge that prompts bloggers to share a nugget of positive news or wisdom and it’s started by the creator of A Momma’s View.

  • Tomorrow I have a job interview at a good library so wish me luck.
  • It’s been a weekend of birthdays. Yesterday we had my mother’s birthday and celebrated here with a barbecue and today I went to my cousin’s to celebrate his daughter’s birthday.
  • We’ve gotten a lot of rain, but we really needed it.
  • I’m enjoying C.S. Lewis’ sci fi book Out of the Silent Planet. I’m not a big sci fi fan, but Lewis sure can write.

So for all of you who would like to play along and stick to the rules, here they are:

It’s easy:

Mention something that you consider being good in the comments

• Or write a post about it on your blog (please don’t forget the pingback if you do so I don’t miss out and also share the link to it in the comments below). Something good that happened to you recently, or something good you will experience in a little while, or something good you know will happen soon. Something that makes you feel good.

• Share this post and invite your followers as well.

For Job Hunters

One thing that’s rather new when it comes to job hunting is that computers scan and sort applicants’ resumes. How do you know how to make it past the software?

I got some tips on this topic at a job hunting session given by the state at a local library.

To ace this step in the job hunting process:

  • Remove any text in the header because the program won’t read it.
  • Upload your resume without any bolding or formatting and save it as a text file. Upload the ugly file on the company sites directly and also upload your pretty resume or give some to the people whom you meet at an interview.
  • Don’t format your resume as a table or with tabs since this messes up how your resume will be read. The software that’s reading your resume reads from top to bottom, not across. I had used tabs and the dates were on the right side of the entry.
  • Use an online tool that compares your resume to the job description. The organization you’re applying to input keywords that they want the program to look for. You can’t know with certainty what they are but the best hint you’ve got is the job description.

One such tool is Jobscan. You upload your resume and the job description, press scan and voila, you see how well you match the job.

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 5.55.41 PM

Sample Jobscan results

The man leading this program suggested using a word cloud generator like Wordle.com to make a similar comparison. If the keywords in both the resume and job search are approximately the same size, you can figure you’re chances are good that you’ll get called.

Virtual Vocations

I just got a notice from a job board and clicked through to find out about an interesting Instructional Design position. I came to a website for Virtual Vocations and stopped when I saw that you had to pay to find out about this job.

It wasn’t what I called cheap either given that most jobs postings are free. I was curious about the A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau. I looked at bbb.org and saw that yes, they have an A+ ratings but as of today they have 6 positive ratings, 1 neutral rating and 6 negative ratings. How is that not a C or worse?

I read the negative reviews and people had a hard time getting the “guaranteed refunds” and finding suitable opportunities that were worth the monthly fees.

I’m not signing up since it’s common practice that the job hunter doesn’t pay employment agencies and there are plenty of job boards.

Thought I’d let the buyer or job hunter beware.

Attitude Helper for Job Hunting

Yesterday I was lucky to meet with the Dean of a prominent university near me. I was blown away when I checked out her resume to prepare for this meeting. It was beyond impressive.

I was a bit nervous about meeting her, however, she was so helpful and approachable. At one point she advised me to remember that when looking at someone’s resume or c.v. to keep in mind that while it shows say three director positions at top workplaces, it doesn’t show the 15 other director positions that the person did not get.

That’s a helpful reminder that everyone gets turned down for jobs or falters in an interview.

Social Media Gaffs Cost Jobs

This was in my textbook on Project Management:

Ninety-three percent of employers check social media profiles of prospective hires. According to Money magazine here are the 10 most common reasons a candidate’s blunders on social media cost the person a job:

  1. Posting something embarrassing on the corporate Twitter feed.
  2. Sexual oversharing
  3. Revealing company secrets
  4. Blowing your own cover*
  5. Talking “smack” about a job you haven’t accepted yet
  6. Making fun of clients or donors
  7. Making fun of your boss or team
  8. Posting while you should be working
  9. Complaining about your job
  10. Drinking in a photo — even if you’re over 21

So you’ve been warned. I’m sure the sexual oversharing is not going to help anyone in the post-Harvey Weinstein-era, and it shouldn’t.

*Unless you work for the CIA, I’m not sure what’s meant by “Blowing your own cover.” Comment below if you do.

References

Poppick, S. (Sept. 5, 2014). “10 Social Media Blunders that Cost a Millennial a Job–or Worse. Money Magazine. Quoted in Information Technology Project Management by Kathy Schwalbe, Cengage Learning, 2015.

Baseball Trainer?

I just got an email from Ziprecruiter suggesting I apply for a job their algorithm thinks lines up with my background. I click and get to a job posting for a Baseball Trainer. I can’t remember the last time I played baseball. Maybe that was when I was in my early 20s and played softball. If softball doesn’t count, I haven’t played since high school.

Woe is me.

Ziprecruiter is not alone. It’s given my email information to numerous websites, like Indeed, Handshake or SmartHire, who bombard me with jobs teaching physics, chemistry, special ed or accounting among other fields I have no expertise in. Some refinement is needed.

My first choice for a job is a librarian position. Yesterday I had a good long talk with my mother’s friend whose husband was the head of Northwestern’s library. After the holidays, she’s going to introduce me to some people there. Fingers crossed.

My fingers are also crossed for a job as a librarian who coordinates the ESL/Literacy program at a public library in the northwest suburbs.

Of course, I’m also hopeful for a writing opportunity.