Written by Hannah Chism, Career Coach
In order to secure a satisfying, congruent career, one must accurately convey their unique career competencies and passions. Knowing oneself is a crucial part of discovering the kind of career one would like, but actually attaining a job that aligns with such aspirations is what makes the dream a reality. Attaining a desired job requires the ability to communicate one’s attributes and investment to the employer. This job seeking process begins with networking and extends into the job application and interview process. The job application most notably includes one’s resume and cover letter. The interview process includes any communications with the potential employer, including emails, phone screens, interview panels, and follow-up notes. Employers notice both the explicit and implicit communications throughout the entire application process. This means that one’s response time to communications, apparent adaptability, demeanor, and so forth all account for the sum total of securing the job.
Learning to convey your strengths and passions is a key part of securing a satisfying, congruent career. A strategy that bridges the gap between identifying and conveying one’s competencies and passions is crafting a life mission statement. This statement serves as an in between, where one is able to solidify their career aspirations into a definitive statement. It requires both the identification and articulation of competencies and passions; thus, it is the bridge between self-awareness and action. It supplies the foundation for articulating one’s competencies and passions with conviction and confidence. It also ensures one keeps on track with their career and life goals. A career mission statement is a one to three sentence summary that captures an individuals’ strengths and passions. Below is an example of my personal mission statement:
I am passionate about seeing individuals grow and live to their fullest potential. I encourage and empower those around me by providing exceptional mental health care and personal career coaching.
Visit this link for assistance with creating a personal mission statement. Creating such a statement can also inform the objective section of a resume and act as a guide in crafting a cover letter.
One must be able to articulate what they bring to the table. And they must do so with confidence. Part of that confidence involves self-awareness in knowing oneself. When one is able to say “This is who I am” with conviction, others respect that. This also entails understanding one’s biases, values, and blind-spots (see “Identifying Unique Competencies and Passions”). Within this, it is pertinent to know one’s audience and adapt your speech accordingly. This does not mean at the cost of authenticity nor transparency, but with a sense of professionalism.
This word has often held a bad taste in my mouth. I am a One on the enneagram and value honesty, integrity, and authenticity above all else. The concept of networking used to hold the negative connotation of ‘using others for self-gain.’ Now being a business owner myself my perspective has shifted. I view networking as an opportunity for mutual support. Instead of seeking others out to say, ‘This is what I need,’ approach them with “How can I support you?” When you hold the mentality that each person and interaction matters, as opposed to only selecting those for selfish gain, you will be successful. Communicating others’ inherent value gains trust and increases one’s likelihood of being advocated for. Relationships are a key component of emotional wellbeing, but they are also a key part of success.
Thus, whether you are content in your current job with no intention of moving jobs or you are actively seeking work, build, maintain, and foster relationships. What you do in the daily reflects your entire job outlook. The impressions, connections, and relationships you build now matter for your future employment. Thus, establish good rapport with your current coworkers, supervisors, and employees. Build relationships with community members across all contexts. Get involved in your community, either through volunteering or joining groups with shared interests or values. Seek out mentors who you can learn from. Mentor others seeking assistance in your areas of expertise. Consult with seasoned professionals. Having a posture of lifelong learning increases your likeability, success, presence, and investment in life. Networking is an opportunity to empower, support, and encourage others, while also gaining wisdom, experience, and opportunity.
A critical component of securing a desired job is researching the company, applicable market, and other relevant information throughout the application process. Prior to even submitting one’s application, one needs a strong grasp on the job description and organization. The job description informs one’s resume, cover letter, and interview. Go through the job description using different color highlighters, marking the areas of your particular strengths and deficits. Incorporate transferrable and applicable language into your resume and cover letter. Be prepared to address personal areas of deficits in case the interview panel draws attention to them. Peruse the company website, searching for special programs/services/niche areas, the company mission/vision statements, and key leaders/employees. Include the mission statement in the cover letter. Address the cover letter to your potential supervisor. Discuss the company’s niche area in the interview. Research competing organizations for their special offerings/programs/etc. in order to offer innovative ideas to assist the company in competing with other organizations. One’s applicable research reflects one’s level of investment in the position and company.
The same resume and cover letter should never be used. Tailor every single resume and cover letter. The comments below are an accelerated and abbreviated version of what I provide in my resume and cover letter videos (coming in 2021) or in coaching sessions.
The purpose of your resume is to highlight applicable experience, strengths, and skills. Thus, the importance of tailoring it to the specific job. Incorporate accurate language/synonyms from the job descriptions in the ‘skills and expertise’ section of your resume. This includes, required certifications (e.g.: First Aid Certified) and desired traits (e.g.: innovative). In the ‘objective statement’ or ‘executive summary’ section articulate how you are the best fit for the job using active language and strong adjectives tailored to what you will uniquely bring to the position and organization. The ‘professional experience’ portion of your resume can either be categorized chronologically or thematically, this is contingent on when your most relevant professional experience occurred. The ‘relevant experience’ section should highlight non-professional or unpaid experiences that are applicable to the job and offer transferrable skills.
The cover letter is your opportunity to ‘sell’ how your individual strengths, skills, and background enhance the company and position. Likewise, it is a chance to communicate how your passion or values align with the company vision/mission.
Your ability to secure the job starts with your application. This includes submitting all required materials, proofreading, and communications with the hiring team (including the recruiter). Every impression matters, including implicit and explicit communication. This means nonverbals (e.g.: eye contact) and verbal responses play into the interview team’s impressions. Your ability to connect with the interview panel and convey empathy reflect not only your interpersonal skills but investment in the position and company. Incorporating job description or company website language (aka buzz words) into your application materials and the interview is crucial. Being prepared with specific examples that demonstrate your strengths and skills is paramount. Sealing the deal with authentic closing remarks and sending follow-up thank you emails/notes leaves a final impression.
Part of securing a satisfying, congruent career involves interviewing the prospective employer, as well. The entire application process is also your opportunity for acquiring intel about the job. You are also in the process of discerning best fit for your unique competencies and passions. Thus, craft interview questions (yes, you get to ask the interview panel questions, as well) that fill in the gap for your areas of concern but that also reflect your level of investment in the company and job. Ask yourself the areas you are willing to compromise in for the sake of securing a job (see “Career Considerations” in the following article). Sometimes short-term sacrifice increases long-term gain. Consider the factors that are worth sacrificing now for later (see “Lifestyle Considerations” in the following article).
Seeking and securing employment is an exhausting process. Considering the fact that each resume and cover letter must be tailored, requires extensive time in and of itself. Most often, it takes several job applications before actually securing a position. It can become discouraging spending several hours on each application, to not even hear back from a potential employer… But do not lose heart. Continue applying, reassessing, and recalibrating as necessary. Ask yourself the important questions of: Am I applying for positions within my scope? What can I do better? Is there additional experience I need to gain prior to securing such a position? Have others proofread your resumes and cover letters. Reach out to recruiters and ask for feedback (they likely will not supply it, but it never hurts to ask). Perhaps buy coffee for someone who works in that same field and glean from their learnings. Or, hire a career coach to assist you with the whole process.
Hannah Chism, MA, LPCC, NCC, PHR, is a clinical mental health therapist and career coach for Peripateo Consulting, who holds a professional background in counseling, teaching, and human resources. Hannah is skilled at assisting others in making critical choices that impact their lifestyle, relationships, and career path; within this, she is passionate about seeing others grow and live to their fullest potential.