Sunday, February 6, 2011

Don't let the job market define who you are

When you're looking for a new job, changing careers, going back to college, or even just writing a resume, it's tempting to give in to the stereotyped views of who you are. You're just one of many people in transition, like people in a bus station wating to get on the next available bus. You're one of the crowd.

How can you communicate your individuality to potential employers and admission personnel? How can you rise above the crowd, so that your application or resume stands out (in a positive way!) and attracts the attention it needs to get you an interview or offer?

1. Don't fall into the standard categories. You may be looking for a job, like thousands of other people,but you are unique. Learn to highlight and effectively convey what's special about you and your potential to contribute to the organization.

2. Don't use everyday, boring language. Think about your skills, abilities, talents, gifts, goals, values, beliefs, interests and accomplishments, then write about them in highly-specific and colorful words and images. Repeat your key accomplishments to yourself until talking about yourself in positive, imaginative ways becomes natural and easy.

3. Don't think in terms of "cannot" or "no experience." Think in terms of transferable skills and ability to learn quickly. Apply your management skills to a new industry; use your interpersonal and communication skills among a new group of people; demonstrate how your organizational and motivational skills can benefit your new school.

The job market can seem huge and impersonal. Don't give in to the tendency to present yourself in unoriginal ways that make it too easy to put you into an existing category. Think about people who've become famous or successful: they all communicated their unique gifts and abilities to the world and didn't settle for being defined by the job market.

Do you want your resume or application to end up in the "no" pile? It's up to you to resist being defined negatively, shuffled into the background, or labeled as unqualified. Define yourself, and people will give you the chance to tell them what you can do and how you can improve their organization by contributing your skills and abilities to their mission.

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