How Do I Start A Cover Letter?

Not every employer out there wants you send them a cover letter, and some make it clear in the job posting by asking you not to send one with your resume. However, 50% of employers do read the cover letters they receive, and the ones that do take your ability to communicate effectively into consideration when deciding whether to have you in for an interview.

The trouble for many people is how to begin the actual body of the thing. “What should I say?” many wonder. My advice is to start by thinking of things from the perspective of the person who is going to receive your letter at the other end.

Whether your cover letter is going to be sent by email, as part of an online application, hand delivered or in the post, it’s going to ether start by being received by only one of two people; the right person or someone who needs to pass it on to the right person.

In either case, unless they aren’t going to look at it at all go right to the resume, either of the two people are going to ponder, “What’s this letter all about?” at first glance. So if it lands in the Receptionists mail, he or she will have to open it and read enough in order to know who to forward it to in the company based on the contents. If it first lands in the inbox of the person making up the short list of people to interview, they’ll be wondering what it’s about on first glance too, as the job you are applying to isn’t the only thing they’ get mail about.

Make the assumption these are busy people with a lot to do in a day. Time is money; that kind of thing. The time they are now spending reading your cover letter is precious time to both you and them, so you should be thinking as you write your first few words, “Get to the point right away.”

I’m going to make two essential suggestions. Once you have the date of your letter at the top and some contact information just below that, put what the letter is regarding next in bold and underline it quoting any job competition number provided. It might look like this:

RE. Senior Bookkeeper/Account #16-537 

Remember how I said your cover letter might be read by someone who has to forward it to the right person? This information clearly and boldly stated just above the content of your letter gives the person enough information right there to get your cover letter and application moving to the right person. Let’s face it, after the time you invested in writing this cover letter, you don’t really want to put your chances of a potential interview in the hands of a Receptionist, expecting him or her to really read the entire letter without this and then figure out who to pass it along to. They are too busy and you’re not helping yourself.

The second suggestion I have is to start the first sentence stating what it is you want. What do you want? An interview of course! Why so many people are uncomfortable actually asking for an interview when that is precisely what they are applying for in the first place is beyond me. It’s not aggressive, it’s not rude, it’s actually exactly what the interviewer appreciates because you save them time.

“I am requesting an interview for the Senior Bookkeeper/Account  position. Having reviewed your desired qualifications, I am confident in stating my qualifications, experience and skills are an excellent match making me an ideal candidate.”

“But I can’t say that!” at least some of you reading this are gasping! Well, other readers will be happy to hear that because they are already revising their cover letters and just improved their chances because you’re reducing yours. You want an interview right|? The point of your cover letter and motivation for writing at all is immediately clear right? The time of the person reading it is respected right? It’s all good.

You see when your letter gets into the hands of the right person, the job you are applying to may not in fact be the only job they are interviewing people for. Not to mention of course they get a lot of other correspondence; bills, invoices, requests for charitable donations, business letters etc. Again, as they open your letter they first ask themselves, “What does this person want?” You are doing them a favour.

Scared of the direct language that says essentially you’re the right person; the best person for the job? Afraid that’s boasting? It’s not and in the forthcoming interview you are asking for, aren’t you going to be making the best case you can as being the best person for the job? The one they should hire? So where’s the conflict?

Here’s the clincher; at least for me. If the cover letters you’re writing were effective, you’d be getting calls for interviews on a regular basis; assuming you are qualified in the first place. If you’re not getting those calls, don’t be timid and afraid of changing your approach in order to see if you get a different result.

You are undoubtedly good at what you do; maybe even very good at whatever it is you do. This is in my area of expertise; take it or leave it but think on it.

Job Interviews And Memory Triggers

For many people the job interview is a highly stressful event that they’d rather bypass altogether if they could. A common fear I hear over and over again is the fear of not being able to recall a memorized answer; the ‘blanking out’ problem. Read on dear reader; I can help with this.

First of all, put aside the idea of having to memorize all the answers you plan on using in the interview. It’s way too much pressure on yourself – on any of us – to memorize 10 or 12 solid answers. It’s also probable that you’ll be asked at least some questions which differ from those you practiced anyhow, and so you’d have to think up something on the spot in the end.

Let’s make a fresh start on preparing for future interviews. Get yourself a pen., paper and a job posting you’re interested in. Those that take the time to get these 3 things and follow my instructions will benefit much more than those who just sit and read on. You do want to benefit as much as you can don’t you and succeed in interviews where you’ve run into problems in the past? Great.

So you’re back? Great.

Now look at that job posting. On the paper, print one of the key job expectations; what the employer will be expecting you to do. Now underline whatever you’ve put down as a kind of heading. Now take a moment and think back in both your paid and unpaid work and recall an experience where you did something exactly like that. So if you put down, “provide excellent customer service” as your heading, you would put beneath it a brief recollection of a time in your past when you provided a single customer with your very best customer service.

As you write down your example, it is critical to be as specific as you can rather than just a general example. So rather than saying, “I provided great customer service when I worked in retail”, say “I remember working at the ABC Shoe Store and a woman came in and was very upset. She’d been to 7 stores in the mall but no one had helped her get her shoes. She had very odd-shaped feet and needed extra wide shoes. I  listened to her then measured her feet and brought her two pair to try on. She ended up buying both pair and was delighted as it had been an exhausting day for her.”

Now, you can imagine trying to recall that story word for word and then realizing that this is only one answer of many you might need would be hard to do. If this is your approach up to now, I agree the interview would  be a scary thing to avoid!

Here’s the next and critical step: find a trigger word or phrase. Look at the example you put down and read it again. As you read it, ask yourself if you find one word or phrase that will in the future trigger the whole story and make it easier for you to recall when you need it. In my example above, perhaps my trigger word is, “Bunions”. (This is a sometimes painful growth on the feet and something the woman had in the shoe store).

So now beside the heading which I’ve underlined, I’m going to write my trigger word and I encourage you to do the same. My example looks like this:

Excellent customer service: Bunions

This process is now to be repeated for each of the key responsibilities the employer has put into their job posting. If you have 5 or 6 key responsibilities in the ad or job posting before you, you’ll have 5 or 6 headings on the paper eventually and one story under each heading that demonstrates your past experience . You’ll also add a trigger word or short phrase that will help you recall each story.

It may not make sense to anyone but you, but if you take just the headings and trigger words for each, your list could might look like this:

excellent customer service: bunions

resolve problems: goldfish

organization: pick up sticks

confidentiality: Zumba class

flexibility: ice storm

Now anytime you try to learn something new, there’s a good chance it seems odd and requires some effort to master. This method I’m sharing with you is no different, but it is highly successful – and so are the people who use it.

The key now is not to memorize the great answers you have but to recall the trigger words you’ve attached to each core or key responsibility the employer is looking for. I think you’d agree that the interviewer is probably going to ask you questions about the things that are important to the job you are interviewing for rather than questions unrelated to the job you are applying to. So in this way, you and I can predict with great certainty the questions we’ll be asked.

By having a trigger word ready, it becomes easier for your brain to take the trigger word and access the right story from your memories and bring it foremost in your mind when you need it most. This way, you blank out less and perform better.

All the best!


Me, Diabetes And The Workplace

Just a few weeks ago I learned I’m a diabetic. That came as a surprise I can tell you and it’s largely for this reason that I haven’t written a blog in a week. Let me if you will share how it’s affecting me in the workplace and what I’ve done in the early days of diagnosis as maybe you can find something in my experience to help you should you or someone in your own place of work go through something akin to this.

I wouldn’t even know to this day I had diabetes had I not taken it upon myself to visit my doctor. I had started 2016 at 220 pounds you see and had made a conscious effort to lose weight and had come down to 177; a drop of 43 pounds over 7 months. I felt great and was proud of my commitment to my goal and the results.

The problem? People at work that once congratulated me and told me I looked great started to say things like, “Oh but you don’t have cancer do you?” or, “I’m concerned about you.” So my motivation in seeing the doctor wasn’t about feeling terrible or having symptoms I could recognize but more to get the good word that all was well so I could assure both co-workers and the people I serve that I’m fine.

The doctor congratulated me on the weight loss but did some blood work as a routine check. That’s when I discovered that instead of a blood reading between 4 and 7, I’d hit 14. It even went as high as 20 over the next few days.

Now diabetes is manageable and perhaps not the big scare for you that it is for me. You see at 57 years of age, I’ve had little more than the odd cold every couple of years and I’ve certainly never been on any medications. I’ve never smoked, done drugs and the only alcohol I’ve ever had pass my lips is in mouthwash. I’ve never even had a sip of coffee either. There’s no history of diabetes in my family either; so it has hit me rather hard.  I can’t help but ask, why me?

I’ve set out immediately with the mindset that I can beat this thing. I’m going to repair this damaged machine called my body and I’m certainly going to have a healthy retirement in the years to come not hampered by illness. Maybe I’m naïve in thinking I can eliminate diabetes from my life but that’s the thinking.

In addition to changing my eating habits, I made the decision last week to tell everybody I work with rather than hide it. Now my diabetes is type 2; no needles, just some pills in the morning and with dinner, cut out the sugar intake and test the blood sugar throughout the day.

My co-workers now know I don’t have cancer; see things could have been worse. I’m glad I told them because I’ve eliminated you see their urgings to have the sweets they bring in from time-to-time. So hopefully they won’t push me to try a bite of cake, share a doughnut etc. We don’t have these sweets all the time, but we do have cakes in the workplace to celebrate the end of our classes and other staff have dangled such treats within my earshot.

I also know that whenever I’m at a conference or meeting where food is provided, I have to alert those ahead of time that I’m diabetic and have them make whatever provisions for a substitute meal that they can. Oh and if I’m off in the staff washroom I might be testing my blood levels once or twice a day.

As for the people I serve, I haven’t told them yet but I will as I see doing so might help them in some way. As I work with people on social assistance; many of whom have mental and physical health issues, it might be good for some of them to hear of my diabetes and how I manage it. Some of them might find my situation and my own ability to empathize with their own circumstances a positive thing.

I’ve yet to meet with a Dietician or Nutritionist, so working on my own with just some changes in diet have brought my scores from the 14’s and 20’s down to a few 9’s and even a 7 and a 6. That’s extremely encouraging and it’s only been three weeks.

Now that I’ve disclosed my diabetes (and I did it at a conference with 150 employees in attendance from the podium while presenting on a topic), I’ve had good support. One fellow came up and shared his own diagnosis which he got two months ago. It was good for him to hear me and I certainly appreciated his words of being surprised with his diagnosis and so it wasn’t only me.

If you have a health issue, I certainly encourage you to share it with your boss, co-workers and of course your family and friends. It’s a load off the mind to do so. These are the people I hope you can trust to hear your story and support you as you deal with it moving forward.

I hadn’t written my blog in a week as I was a jumble of feelings and knew the words I wrote wouldn’t convey what I wanted. So here I am, sharing the real stuff; hope it helps you in some way to know.

What You Silently Deal With

If you’re in any one the helping professions you probably have advised those you support to be open with you and share whatever issue(s) they are dealing with. It only makes sense you figure; after all, know what they are dealing with and you can best respond to their needs. Why then I wonder, if this such wise advice, do you and I not then reveal to others that which we are silently dealing with?

All kinds of things come to mind; embarrassment, shame, pride, fear of isolation, rejection,  bullying, teasing etc.; take your pick. Of course what you’re dealing with and the environment you are in and the people you might share your personal issues with largely determines how you may or may not proceed.

If you’re dealing with depression for example, you might find yourself going out of your way to be perceived as, ‘up’, friendly, funny and nice to be around. Could be that your circle of friends or co-workers would be surprised to find out you’re depressed and taking medication to stay on the even keel. They mind say, “What you? Depressed? No way. Really? Wow, I’d never have guessed.” While that might be nice, it doesn’t really help you other than to know you’re masking things well and fooling those around you. Is fooling others though what you really want to do?

What if it’s not depression though? You might instead have a criminal record you’re doing your best to keep from being made public. Depending on what it’s all about, you might even worry that it would cost you your current job if it came out publicly. You’re carrying that load and walking around each day hoping it doesn’t catch up with you.

These are the kind of things that affect us in two ways; in and of themselves they impact us and secondly we stress about the impact disclosure would bring upon us. Ironically, you might feel the very fact that it’s your personal secret makes talking about it with someone – anyone – impossible to do as you’ll fret over that person intentionally or accidentally revealing what you want kept private. But if you could tell someone, well, that alone would in another sense be a tremendous relief.

I bet we’d all be surprised and in some cases downright shocked if all the people we met as we go through our days wore visible labels; identifying their demons, secrets and health concerns. While it would be revealing to see what others are really dealing with on a day-to-day basis, how eager or comfortable would you be exposing your own label(s)?

I wonder if it would eventually get to be a non-factor in time if everyone publically advertised their issues? You know, you walk around and in the beginning you’re fascinated and appalled, shocked and surprised. However would we ever get to the point where we’d just say, “Oh yeah…” and think nothing of those labels because they become so commonplace? I imagine we’d rather everyone else publically display their issues and then eventually we might give it a go and reveal some but probably not all of our own issues.

Imagine as an exercise you sat in a group and everyone went up to a table and picked up a number of post-it notes, each with a problem, issue, disease, secret or mental health condition on it. Then these were affixed to the persons top so everyone could see. Imagine too that everyone was free to pick up something they don’t deal with or they could pick up exactly what they are dealing with at the same time; as no one would actually know if the issue was something they lived with or were just picking up for the exercise. Say for the next hour, people just milled around and talked, asked questions, told others how they think they’d feel but said it as if they actually had that ‘thing’ and pretended it was real.

How would you feel if you had a criminal record for real or dealt with depression and you were asked point-blank, “So why did you do it?” or “How do you cope with depression and what’s a bad day look like?” Would you tell the truth or make something up? Would it be a relief to say out loud how you feel knowing that the other person wouldn’t really know if you were being honest with them or taking your best guess as to what that would feel like?

What I’d also think we’d find interesting is to hear someone else wearing a label that we actually deal with talk about it in their words. Would they be accurate or far off the mark? Would it make us feel relieved to be having conversations about our issues in this manner? Would it help or hinder our ability to then have conversations with others when the exercise was over? Hmm….

Whatever you’re dealing with, it’s not like you’re the only one carrying that issue and living with it everyday. Sometimes we can find support and strength from sharing with others who then find the courage themselves to open up.

If you’re not ready to share your personal challenges, that’s okay. When the time comes you’ll recognize the opportunity before you and will have to decide to do so or not. Be it a friend, a best friend or a total stranger, I hope you do.

Those Drawn To Social Services And Other Professions

Name any profession that you have even a rudimentary understanding of what the people in that job actually do, and there’s a good chance you can accurately come up with the personality traits and basic skills that you’d find in many of the people in that profession.

For example, Firefighters likely have excellent stamina, a high level of physical fitness; a genuine concern for educating people on how to safeguard themselves against injuries or death caused by fire. Fashion Designers likely share creativity; a flair for fashion in general, and enjoy clothing others perhaps with colour, affordability, trends or materials foremost in mind.

Those drawn to Social Services work are no different. There are common traits and qualities that dominate those who you find in the profession. Let me amend that statement. There are common traits and qualities that dominate those WHO ARE SUCCESSFUL in the profession. For the field of Social Services is just like all other professions in that you’ll find similar qualities amongst most of the workers but you’ll always find a small percentage who don’t align with the majority.

What becomes magnified and of tremendous importance is that the few in the field who don’t represent the majority, ply their trade and go about their work all the while interacting with fragile, vulnerable people who can ill afford to be served by people who would appear to be, ‘in it’ for the wrong reasons.

While most people drawn to social service work have the very best of intentions to serve and assist the vulnerable, you may just find others with different agendas. Yes some in the field are in because they want a 9-5 job, maybe the benefits that go with it, maybe it’s something they can do that isn’t too taxing on the body or the mind. Depending on the employer, you might also see some in it for the money, the benefits, the stability and protection of a unionized body behind them.

Some of my colleagues in the field but with different employers in different areas or countries will laugh out loud at that last paragraph about being in it for the money. I can tell you though, in some jurisdictions Social Workers and Social Services staff are paid quite well; just as in all professions there are some who are paid better than others.

It is hoped – at least by me – that those who are drawn to the field of Social Services are the compassionate ones; the ones who you and I ourselves would like to see sitting across from us in our own moments of need. We’d like someone empathetic to our needs with an open mind and receptive ear. We’d like to be believed after being heard, and we’d like a responsive person who can and will work with us to improve our situation whatever it is.

What we’d rather not experience I feel it is reasonable to state is a person who is going through the motions, detached from their job, abrasive, disinterested in their work and who forgets that there are people affected by their actions or lack thereof. Ironic isn’t it that some people would be in the field of serving others yet go about their day almost seeming to complain about the people who make their job so frustrating by being so needy!

What I don’t think we in the field have to have as a pre-requisite is having lived the lives of those we serve and support. It isn’t essential to have been homeless yourself; to have had an addiction to cocaine or be a recovering alcoholic. I don’t think having spent time in jail makes you more qualified to help ex-cons than someone else who hasn’t been in the correctional system.

What we all do need I believe is tolerance, patience, empathy, understanding; a willingness to listen without prejudice and judgement, condemnation or preconceived attitudes. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that the ex-con, recovering addict or alcoholic are not the best people to assist those they serve because they revert to their own experiences and sometimes in doing so fail to hear the unique experience of the person in front of them. Someone with no personal experience to shape their opinion will be listening in the conscious moment hearing the person they hope to help as they tell their story.

Sure it’s nice to think that we in the field can make a difference; that we can influence others for good, help support people who want to make positive changes in their lives. Honestly though, and as someone who has been in the field for some time, you’ll be disappointed in the setbacks some of those you have high hopes for experience. You might feel let down, or that you let them down. You might feel frustrated that someone didn’t follow through on your plan of action; that they were weak and succumbed to temptation and had a number of false starts.

You are human. It’s most important to be there. If people always call you first when they are the most needy, rejoice in that because your name came to their mind as the one person who is most likely to give them what they need in their moment of greatest need; what a privilege.

Talk to people in the profession you’re drawn to and see if you personally ‘fit’. Now that’s good advice.

Pre-Interview Personal Check List

Aside from doing your homework and researching the job you’re about to be interviewed for, here are some tips you can easily overlook that could make the difference between making a positive or negative first impression. Read the list, see what you think and make adjustments to your pre-interview routine as you best see fit. All the best to you as you pursue that next position!

  1. Footwear.

Get your shoes out the night before and spend 5 minutes polishing them. All shoe stores sell various polishes and protectants yet many buyers only leave with their shoes. When you sit down in front of interviews your footwear is often front and center; especially if you cross your legs and elevate one over the other, thus raising it directly in their line of sight. The interviewer can infer you don’t put much value in personal appearance if you’re footwear is poorly maintained and if this is you at your best, you might not be the person to represent the company.

2. Socks

Depending on the job you are going for, you can play it conservative and wear solid colours that match your outfit or you can go playful. If you’re unsure, opt for the conservative black, brown, grey etc. This isn’t the time or place to wear two different socks as the interviewer has a limited time period to ask you pertinent questions that relate to the job and one of them isn’t going to be, “What’s with the socks?” Therefore, they’ll be left to wonder if you’re just having fun, showing off your individualism, bucking the establishment or you just generally don’t recognize the occasions when you should dress appropriately.

3. Tattoos And Piercings

The general public once associated people who displayed tattoos as being criminals and sailors, piercings as being for punkers and those into self-mutilation. Today, people in all walks of life have tattoos and they’ve become mainstream. However, you have to use common sense when making up your mind to expose or cover up your personal artwork. Knowing the culture of the company you are applying for, anticipating the reaction of the customers, clients or end-users of the companies services and products can all help guide you in your decision. Of course, the tattoo itself and what it communicates has to be paramount. You can always remove piercings for an interview, or even the job once you’ve got it if it’s important to you and add them back when hired or on your own time.

4. Shirts, Blouses, Pants, Skirts And Dresses

Notice I didn’t include shorts and neither should you. Get out what you’re wearing the night before an interview or if you’ve got your favourite interview outfit, check it out now rather than later. Look for obvious signs of wear and tear such as frayed cuffs and hems. When standing in front of a mirror, have you gained or lost weight and the fit isn’t what it once was? Aside from stains that can come out in a wash, have the garments faded and now look drab? Have you any loose or missing buttons that need sewing?

5. Brush Your Teeth

Whether you’re a smoker or not, brushing your teeth before the interview not only removes any stuck food but can improve your breath and impact your confidence. Head out to a pharmacy or grocery store and pick up a small tube of toothpaste, a small or collapsible brush and a mini bottle of mouthwash. These you can stash in your purse, glove compartment box or even an inner jacket pocket of your coat.

6. Hygiene

Shower, use deodorant and if you’ve got annoying sweat lines under your chest or under your armpits, dust yourself with some baby powder after the shower dry off. The baby powder will help reduce those sweat lines and give you one less thing to worry about. Clean and trim your fingernails; trim the nasal hairs too.

7. Perfume and Cologne

These days someone in the company you are applying to is likely to have some allergy to fragrances. It might even be a company policy that you arrive without a scent; what’s pleasing to you might be deadly to someone else and that someone could be the person prepared to interview you. Some applicants are told that the interview can’t proceed unless they can wash off the fragrance and rescheduling may or may not be possible. Don’t lose the interview and thereto the job over this.

8. Hair Care

If you’re the applicant who out of habit plays with their bangs or locks, get it back and out of reach. If it constantly falls over your eyes and you have to continually toss it back or move it off your face with your hands, choose a hairstyle that eliminates this. Ensure it’s clean, groomed and this goes for beards and moustaches too.

9. Business or Business Casual?

Before the interview, check the expected attire worn each day by current employees. Does the company have a policy or dress code you could adhere to right from the interview? Find out.

10. Accessories

You want to impress them with your knowledge and your answers. Too bad if they can’t hear you over the jewelry on your wrists or they can’t get over the distracting earrings or necklaces. Keep your accessories to a minimum as they should highlight you not the other way around. Clean your glasses ahead of the interview as well.

“Fake It ‘Til You Make It” Isn’t For Me

In my job as an Employment Counsellor, I hear the mantra, “Fake it ’til you make it” from a number of people; why even some of my fellow employees. Is this really the best advice to give someone and what dangers do we expose those people to who follow such advice?

The thrust of the context in which I hear this advice being passed on the most seems to be tied to the job interview. You know, you have some innate weakness or soft spot and instead of owning up or voluntarily providing information pertaining to it, you’d be better advised to cover things up by acting the way you assume the interviewer would see as most desirable; even when this isn’t the real you. Eventually you believe or hope you’ll come around to having the skill you really don’t, or behaving the way you currently don’t. If you can fake your way through the interview, over time on the job, you’ll be the person you’re claiming to be now.

I don’t like that advice. First of all it’s dangerous. Claiming you have skills and qualifications you don’t could lead the person on the receiving end of the advice to become injured by operating machinery in unsafe ways or handling dangerous products without the knowledge needed to do so responsibly.

Heeding such suggestions also opens a person up to being assessed as dishonest, unbelievable, a poor risk and none of these are the kind of traits employers seek out. You’d like to be thought of as genuine; a straight-shooter, honest and someone who is believable.

Perhaps you might agree that lying or insinuating you have certain skills you don’t isn’t what is being suggested by the phrase at all. You might suggest it has more to do with overcoming shyness, a lack of self-confidence or interpersonal skill deficiencies.  Okay let’s look at that. So suppose you convince a timid job seeker that showing a little more bravado or courage would be a good thing and increase their chances at getting through a job interview and obtaining an offer. You tell them that the interviewer doesn’t know them at all, and therefore they can fake that self-confidence until they get out of the interview and hopefully made enough of a good impression that they get hired.

This sounds on the surface as not bad advice at all. However, what I’ve witnessed as outcomes of this strategy are two developing problems. First, the person once hired can’t maintain the façade they put up over a 45 minute interview and when exposed or confronted, reverts to their genuine behaviour. Second, the person themselves feels immense pressure and stress to be someone they aren’t; to fake being something that isn’t natural for them and essentially they’ve been set up with yet one more thing to stress about. That’s far from helpful.

The irony I’ve seen and heard is that the same people who are saying, “Fake it ’til you make it” are also saying, “There’s no one as unique as you in the world so be yourself”. Talk about mixed messages.

I do think that anytime you try to learn something new you introduce the possibility of failure as much as you hope for success. It is often a struggle in the initial stages when learning, and you might have setbacks. If what you are attempting to do is change your behaviour, you will need to stretch outside your comfort zone and do things differently than you’ve done in the past. Until such time as you feel comfortable and normal behaving a certain way, you will be conflicted between what you’ve always done that feels natural and what you’re striving to do that seems foreign and strange.

I don’t believe however that the period of transition from one to the other is faking it. I think in fact the transition period is very real; that people in this period are so genuine that it’s both exciting and scary simultaneously. So the quiet, reserved person who is after a ‘people’ job where strong communication and interpersonal skills are desired by the employer may struggle in the transition period, but what they feel is real, what they experience is genuine. If the motivation is sincere and strong, it will be enough to sustain through the transition period until they gain comfort that comes from naturally behaving and acting the way they want.

Like any new learning, building on small successes until a new skill or behaviour is mastered is desirable. One small success gives a person encouragement and reinforces the results they want to achieve. Faking anything implies you not only run the risk of being exposed by others who see through you, but you ultimately know you are faking what you’re doing; and it’s pretty hard to delude yourself when you’re intentionally faking anything.

It sounds nice though doesn’t it? It’s short, rhymes and if told to us by someone we respect as wise, it can sound like excellent advice; fake it ’til you make it. However, if you want a different mantra try, “To thine own self be true.” This has been around a lot longer; be true to yourself and others will respect you for being who you are. When you do land a job offer, you’ll end up with a job that fits with who you are and one in which you can be yourself.