Danielle Dory

Posts Tagged ‘opinion’

Back to the Drawing Board. Writing, or Should I Say, Rewriting Your Cover Letter

In Blog, Business on July 2, 2012 at 11:00 am

Well folks, after reading this article from INC. I realized that my pride and joy,  my cover letter, needs a lot of work.  In an article titled “10 Ways You Should Never Describe Yourself”  businessman and ghost writer Jeff Haden lists 10 adjectives you should never use in your cover letter.  To my horror and dismay, my cover letter currently has 6 of these words.  I’ll let you figure out which words they were, but with every new word listed, I felt a little dagger dig deeper into my heart.  Upon finishing my read, I had a mental image of a my cover letter bleeding in red ink.

I have yet to meet a single individual who actually enjoyed writing a cover letter.  Think about it.  The qualities needed of a cover letter are full of slight, and blatant, contradictions.  Be boastful but genuine.  Be aggressive but not too aggressive.  Then we look at all the things to include:

  1. Highlight your talents
  2. Sell yourself
  3. Show that you know about the company
  4. Explain why you’re a perfect fit of the position
  5. Keep it short.

Writing about myself is probably one of my most difficult tasks, but despite the big adjective problem that I apparently have, I’ve picked up a few pointers over the past year.  Here are tips from professionals on how to be better about, well, bragging.

  1. It’s not we.  It’s me.

I had an interview a few months back, and I was discussing the marketing campaign my partner and I did for a local free health clinic.  The interviewer asked me questions like, “So what did you do?”  “How did you do that?” “What did you learn from that experience?” “What was your biggest struggle in completing your project?”  I answered each and every response with, “Well we…”  and every time I went to answer a question, I noticed a slight sigh.  It was a project that I was extremely proud of and it was for a great cause. I couldn’t for the life of me understand I was doing wrong.

After the interview, she took the time to give me some feedback.  It was then that she explained.  I was so concerned with making sure that I didn’t take all the credit for a group effort, that I failed to highlight all that I accomplished.  She was interviewing me for hire, not my partner and I.

  Moral of the story? Focus on your accomplishments and individual achievements.  Even if you are discussing a group effort, focus on your individual responsibilities.

2.   Quantify. Quantify. Quantify.

Whether you’re tweaking your resume or your cover letter, quantify  accomplishments. It adds substance and context.  It also helps to set you apart. Don’t just say what you did, show what you did.

3.   Revise. Revise. Revise.

The dreaded act of revision.  We all hate to do it, bur once we have we’re always glad we did.  For example, this blog.  I hate looking over my posts once they’ve already been published.  Why, because I know for certain that no matter how many times I edited it before I made it public, I will always find mistakes. You’re first try is never perfect.  It’s tedious.  It’s nerve wreaking.  Sometimes it becomes a bit compulsive, yet I know I’ll feel a lot better knowing that I’ve posted something that I don’t have to feel insecure about. Usually, that takes about 3 revisions.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the Revision Lecture from your English professors.  Turns out the lecture also applies to  preparing for interviews, or writing resumes. Most recently, after reading Jeff Haden’s article, I’ve come to realized that The Lecture of Revision most definitely applies when writing cover letters.

So, it’s back to the drawing board for me.

How about you?  Know any other tips that I didn’t cover?  Leave a comment, or email me at beginnersguide2workplace@gmail.com.

Read and Digest: Today’s Lunch Sell by 6/2512

In Read & Digest on June 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm

BIG NEWS!

In Blog, Public Speaking on June 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Now you can FOLLOW ME on TWITTER!

Of course the day that I decided to connect my blog with twitter was also the day twitter kept on shutting down, but my twitter page is now done!

Forbes, I’ll Have to Respectfully Disagree.

In Blog on June 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy a busy day with minimal downtime, but everyone needs a little break.  I think Susan Adams meant well when she posted this article a few days ago on Forbes.  I’ll admit that Eight Ways Goofing Off Can Make You More Productive is an enticing title, but 3 out of the 8 suggestions would have led me straight to the unemployment line – especially as an intern or new employee !  Here are columnist Susan Adam’s 8 suggestions, and alternative solutions that I offer:

    1. Take a walk around the block.

Luckily, my job is excellent about encouraging employees to walk around its campus.  There are scenic walking paths, and during lunch time groups of 2’s and 3’s own the road.  Yet, I understand that not every company has the same environment, and not every boss is going to be okay with you randomly leaving for a stroll in the middle of the day.

Instead I suggest taking a walk around your mental pathways.  Plug your headphones into your laptop or MP3 Player and just zone out for a few minutes.  Take a second to reflect or meditate on your next meeting or something personal.  Take some time to center yourself.  It may not be the change in scenery you were craving, but it’ll be a change in mental scenery.

2.   Take a nap.

ABSOLUTELY NOT.  If I were to list the top ten ways to get on the bad side of your boss, this would probably be in the top 5.  The best replacement for this piece of “advice”? Make a cup of coffee and have a chat with someone in the kitchen.

3. Chat with a colleague.

This is a great suggestion, and it will defiantly help you with your personal conversation initiative.  There is absolutely no harm in conversing with your colleagues.

4.  Run an errand.

Again, this is a tad inappropriate. Instead organize yourself so that you have time to run your errands later. Or just de-clutter your life. I suggest cleaning out your email, or creating those new inbox folders in your Outlook that you never had time to make.     Another constructive way to pass time, and step away from work without leaving your desk, is working on your personal career goals.

5.   Brush your teeth.

Adams pretty much correlates the removing of plaque to ridding yourself of sluggishness.  If this works for you, great!  Me? As the new person in the office,  I don’t really want to be known as the girl who is always brushing her teeth in the office bathroom.

Instead, pop a stick of gum into your mouth.  The minty zing really does help to give you a little boost of attentiveness.

6.   Spend ten minutes checking Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites.

I am not a hypocrite.  I think that most of us take the occasional peek onto Facebook.  After four years at college  mastering the art of procrastination while achieving major success, by multitasking with Facebook or Twitter, Facebooking and surfing the web are hard habits to break.

BUT it is how you web surf that makes it work appropriate.   Above facebooking, I would recommend checking out LinkedIn, that way you can continue working on your network and expand your knowledge of other industries.  I would also recommending web-surfing on news sites like Forbes, CNN, NYT, BBC or the Wall-Street Journal.  Or you can read an industry/career blog  like…maybe… this one?

7.  Go to the gym.

ONLY if your company has a gym on site.

If your company doesn’t and you’re feeling a bit antsy, check out this website:

        • 29 Exercises You Can Do At Your Desk

If you want a good laugh, check out this website:

 8.  Go out to lunch.

I highly recommend going out to lunch once in a while, even if you are not going out to eat.  Sometimes a nice little drive, or some time spent window shopping, can do wonders.  If you’re still feeling antsy, maybe you can go find a nice quiet place besides work to do the outrageous moves from A Workout At Work.

 

“The Case for Hiring ‘Under-Qualified’ Employees”

In Blog, Uncategorized on June 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Forbes recently released an article entitled “The Case for Hiring ‘Under-Qualified Employees.”  This is what I have to say on the matter…

For the past three summers I have worked at the educational testing powerhouse ETS.  By the second year I had advance experience with Microsoft Project, Excel, SharePoint and rocking it when it came to running my own meetings. 

However, I did not walk into my first day of work knowing as much as I do now.  If I were to provide you with a high-level timeline of my work experiences it would look like this:

Day 1-

     First day at work as a Corporate Project Management Intern…

 So, what is that?

Meeting with the director of CPMO   (Corporate Project Management Office)…

Hi, um… (silence).

First facilitated meeting…

(flustered. flustered. flustered)

Last Day of Year 1 (3 months later)-

Go to person for the project

Running multiple meetings and multiple projects

Conversing with executives and client executives

Comfortable. Confident. Challenged yet in control.

 

-Danielle

 

Who Called the Jagron Police?

In Blog, Business, Public Speaking on June 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Jargon Police Gears Up
(and no I’m not talking about a car)

A lot of people are posting and agreeing with this survey by Forbes. Some of their points are valid, but I just want to know why Max Mallet, Brett Nelson and Chris Steiner have a vendetta against superfolus literary devices… http://www.forbes.com/pictures/ekij45gdh/most-annoying-business-jargon/#content