Don’t Let Your Past Taint Others First Impressions Of You


When you’ve had a run of bad experiences such as being let down by others, denied opportunities for advancement you felt you deserved, or flat-out been rejected for jobs you feel you were perfectly suited for, you can start to feel cheated, robbed and hard-done by. Unfortunately, not only can you feel these emotions, but try as you may, they can start to manifest themselves in your behaviour, facial expressions and comments. In short, you can become unattractive to others.

Now this is extremely unfortunate when you meet others for the first time; others who may just be in a place immediately or shortly afterwards to help you out. However, you can well imagine that if their first impression of you is a brooding, negative, all-too serious kind of person with a permanently furrowed brow and constant look of exasperation, you likely aren’t going to be at the top of their list when openings arise.

Sadly, this my dear reader, might just be something you are blissfully ignorant of. It’s true! Now I can’t say for certain of course not having met you, but do yourself a favour and without noticeably relaxing your facial muscles or attempting to consciously smile, grab a mirror and look at yourself. Imagine you were meeting someone for the first time now and what would they see? Of course you might argue that if you were in fact meeting someone for the first time, you’d definitely put on a smile. Ah but wait; that facial expression and overall impression staring back at you in the mirror is the face you’re projecting to people everyday when you’re at your normal self; just walking or sitting around. This is what others see all the time when you’re being your authentic self.

There are clues of course that something is amiss. Could be that people are asking you if everything is okay, or if anything is wrong. Puzzled, you might say things are fine and ask them why they ask, only to be told that you looked troubled or upset. If you are just being your, ‘normal self’, and you’ve not had these kind of comments in the past, something has changed in how you present yourself to others.

Now again, you might have cause to feel the way you do; let down, perhaps kept down, held back from promotions, denied interviews for jobs you wanted or interviewed and rejected far too often. These setbacks are certainly frustrating and it’s hard not to take them as personally as they are after all happening to you. However, taken on their own as individual not connected events, these disappointments may well be not so much indicative of your qualifications or experience but rather the outcomes of a very competitive job market. In other words, more people are applying and competing for single jobs these days and many of those are highly qualified. So if you are applying for jobs, you’ve got a lot of competition.

Of great importance is to make sure the jobs you apply to in the first place are jobs you are truly competitively fit for. Ensuring you meet the stated qualifications – from an objective point of view mind – is integral to your success. Applying for jobs well outside your area of ability on the hopes that someone will take a flyer on you just isn’t going to meet with a lot of success. So if you do, you set yourself up to fail with a high degree of regularity.

Look, have you heard it said that many Recruiters and interviewers decide in the first few minutes of a first meeting if they like you or not? Sure you have. That first few minutes is nowhere near the time it takes to accurately check your education, experience, qualifications and overall fit. So what are they using to make these appraisals? They – just like you and I and everyone else by the way – use our first impressions. How you look, the tone of your voice, your facial expression, mood, dress, posture, personal hygiene and yes your attitude – these come together to create that first impression. After those first 2 – 5 minutes, the rest of the interview is really all about confirming or changing that first impression.

This is why it is so highly important that you don’t allow your past to affect your present if your past is a growing number of poor experiences. Yes, you do have to be authentic and real, not some phony, all-positive and artificially smiling person. Being ‘real’ is important. However, it could well be that given a chance to prove yourself in a job, or getting that promotion would see your old positive self return; the self you truly are most of the time.

Like I said, you might not be fully aware of how your body language and facial expressions have changed; what you think you’re covering up well may be very transparent to others. If you wonder just how things are, and you’re up for some honest feedback, ask people who’ve known you for some time and give them permission to tell you the truth. Could be they’ve noticed a change – and not for the better – but they’ve been reluctant to say anything out of concern for not wanting to hurt your feelings and strain a relationship.

Your first impression is one thing you have complete control over.

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2018: It’s Here!


Yesterday was New Year’s Day and today is day 1 of the ‘work’ year. For me personally, there is a huge contrast in the two; yesterday was sitting and reading a book I got for Christmas, snacking more than I should normally do, and generally relaxing. Today, it’s up and at ’em, back to the blog, shower and dress, make breakfast and out the door to work all day.

As the days of 2017 counted down, did you find yourself consciously putting things off until the new year? You know, job searching; updating your résumé, (yet again!) applying for jobs? Well, it’s here and so it’s time to get going. I hope you’re fired with enthusiasm for changes and the hard work it takes to ultimately be successful. I truly hope you have the stamina to put in the necessary effort and sustain it, and of course I really do want you to succeed.

It’s hard at this time of the year for many to get going though; well for very long at least. Here in Canada we’re under a prolonged deep freeze where the temperatures are with wind chills in the minus 20 – minus 30 range. The days are short on sunlight and the snow has been more plentiful than in past years. Staying inside is tempting; reading as I’ve done for pleasure, or perhaps your own Christmas gifts have your attention (or over-attention as the case may be).

While you may have resolved to put more effort into your job search for the new year, please don’t make the mistake of setting yourself up with lofty expectations you’ll likely not meet. Doing so can have the reverse effect upon you, when you falter, have a setback or two and lean towards chucking the thing in once more. Yes, you don’t want to expect yourself to put in a solid 7 or 8 hours straight every day, nose to the grindstone and then when you slip up a bit, chastise yourself for your failings and give up entirely. This can lead to self-deprecation, low self-esteem, depression and despair.

It’s the balance you’re looking for I suggest. You know better than anyone what your effort in 2017 was really like. You know the help you sought out or didn’t, the advice you failed to follow or the shortcuts you thought in your wisdom would do the same things as taking the longer but probably more effective way to get things done. Nobody knows you like you know you!

Yes, balance is the key. So yes, 2018 will require some effort on your part and perhaps more of a commitment to your end goals. This could mean more work, less play for many, or it could mean just shifting your play time without diminishing it. So rather than saying you’ll give up movies, reading for pleasure, playing games entirely or ignoring the lure of your hobbies and interests until you get a job, (because this won’t work), you could just reallocate your time spent doing these things.

Setting aside ‘play time’ will allow you to enjoy it more when it comes anyhow. So if you love heading to the basement to do some woodworking and it takes some time to set things up, do what you love and then more time to clean up after, give yourself an afternoon say twice a week to do so; and ENJOY it guilt-free. After all, you don’t want to feel distracted with guilt doing something you love, which robs you of the very pleasure you find in it.

You may or may not be in a place to turn your love for your hobby into a job (had you thought of that?), or you might not want to – keeping your hobby and your work separate and apart to unwind and keep the fun of what you love doing.

Now when you’re having your, ‘you time’; immersed in what brings you happiness and contentment, don’t overdo it. If you can discipline yourself to getting back to the job search as you intended to, you’ll ultimately be happier with yourself. You don’t want to feel bad after all that you’re shirking your job search time while you’re trying to enjoy reading that book, sewing or whatever it is you enjoy. That feeling of, “I should be looking for work” will rob you of your concentration and you’ll feel distracted.

So what you might do is begin with a schedule. Whether you set up an alert on your phone, write things down on paper or set an alarm clock, do whatever it takes for you to stay on track of your intended schedule – just as you would do if you were employed. Factor in a couple of breaks and lunch, and where possible, get outdoors for some fresh air at some point too. Good for the spirit, the lungs and the body.

As for the job search? Well, how’s it going? Is a change in strategy needed or are you getting close doing what you’re doing? If you want better results than what you ended 2017 with, then maybe you need a different way of going about things. Read a current book on job search techniques, learn something new about your field of interest, take a course, consult with a job search expert or have your résumé reviewed at the least.

2018; this is YOUR year! All the very best wishes for success!

Community Involvement And Networking


One piece of advice almost always given to people who are looking for work is to get out there and network. While I entirely agree with this, quite often those that are being given this advice haven’t got much of an idea on how or where to actually do it.

While there are formal gatherings you can look into and attend in your community such as Chamber of Commerce sponsored meetings, they can be intimidating to be one of the few people who isn’t a business leader in attendance, and your opportunity to mix and mingle is restricted to time set aside for doing so. Many a person has attended these meetings with the intent of talking to others but in the end, walked out having said almost nothing; too much pressure apparently to force a conversation.

I have a suggestion for you which you might find much more appealing and a lot less intimidating. Consider getting involved in some group of people where you feel a sense of connection in the purpose for the gathering. Allow me to use myself as an example.

Over the years I’ve acted in community theatre productions primarily where I live in Lindsay Ontario and in the neighbouring city of Peterborough. As I write this blog today, I do so in the early hours of opening night for a production of, ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’. This production has brought together children, teenagers and adults from the Peterborough and surrounding area, some 50 people when you add up the actors on stage and the full production crew. Throw in the parents of the children, brothers and sisters of the cast, and you’re almost around 100 people!

So here are a large gathering of people who come together with a unified love of performing and / or being involved in a theatrical performance. Over the 2 or 3 months we’ve met and rehearsed, there’s been a lot of time for conversations, many of which involved inquiries about what occupation a person has. I’ve found people who teach, three restaurant owners, a farming family that raise and train horses, a Home Inspector, aspiring actors of course and College Instructors to name a few.

The conversations are natural, not forced, and yes there are a few people in the cast who are out of work and looking for jobs. As for the teens, while they are in school, for every one that has an idea of what they want to do for a living, there are many more that are unsure and still trying to figure things out. Just yesterday at our last rehearsal, one of them asked me backstage what I did in my job, and when I said I was an Employment Counsellor, they replied, “What’s that?” This is how they get exposed to new career possibilities, by bumping unexpectedly into people who do something they’ve not heard of and asking questions.

Now joining a community theatre group isn’t what I’d necessarily suggest you do. But do you get the point I’m making about joining a group of people in your own community that share a collective interest? Be it knitting, playing music, improving parks and playgrounds, joining a Board of Directors in a local organization, helping out a local sports team, or signing yourself up to curl for the winter months, get out and meet people.

The positive thing about doing any of the above is that you meet people naturally, and you get to know them, socialize with them, and you don’t have the pressure of feeling you have to pin them down in a single 10 minute meeting and plead for a job or ask them to introduce you to someone who does. No, in the case of my community theatre experience, I’ve had a few months to mingle and speak with any and all I wished to whether in a group or one to one. What I’ve found is that good people get involved in community activities. They are intrinsically good by nature, they are helpful, and because we are unified (in this case) by our love of entertaining those who come to see a show, we’re generally in good moods and having fun. Now wouldn’t you like to talk to people who are good by nature, helpful and enjoy being around you if you were looking for a new job?

Who knows where you’re next job lead might come from? You might find that the guy who you act beside has an opening in his business and in getting to know you, he takes a liking to you. Or maybe the backstage crew goes home and casually mentions to their family that you’re out of work and looking for a job and it’s someone who overhears that comment that says, “Really? What’s she looking for?”

Networking is really just connecting with people, having conversations beyond the initially reason for meeting. So yes, in this case we are brought together by our love of staging a production, but when we talk of things outside the theatre, we’re networking with each other.

Consider therefore looking into community groups, calls for volunteers, connecting with people who share whatever it is you find of interest. You’ll meet others who will take an interest in you and opportunity may come when you least expect it, while at the same time you have fun yourself, and that’s good for your mental health!

 

Getting Job Search Feedback


If you’ve looked for employment recently, I imagine you’ve found how challenging it has become. What with the introduction of Applicant Tracking Software (ATS), online applications, the trend of more organizations hiring through Recruiters and Temporary agencies exclusively; it’s just much more involved than it ever used to be.

Gone are the days where a labourer could show up at a job site and offer to work for a day and show what he could do. Gone are the days where you could walk into a place with a Help Wanted sign in the window and after a short talk be hired on the spot.

I’m not saying these are necessarily good or bad changes in the way people got hired, but things have definitely changed. Construction companies can’t hire those that just walk onto a site for insurance reasons, and most stores with help wanted signs in the windows will refuse to take resumes in person; most often directing potential applicants to leave and apply online.

Now the other situation the average job seeker has to deal with is an issue of volume. There’s a lot of people at the moment out of work and there’s a sizeable number of people holding down a job at present who are hungry for a new one. Add the two together and you’ve got a highly competitive job market. Oh and to add to the numbers, people who would normally be made to retire at 65 are now able (in Canada at any rate) to work well beyond that threshold with no mandatory retirement age.

Now of course much depends on the factors affecting your personal job search. Some include: the sector you’re trying to find a job in, the region or area in which you live, your mobility, your education and how dated it is, experience, attitude, your networking skills, use of social media, physical health and of course your job search skills. These are some of the factors but definitely not all of them.

As I’ve said many times before, job searching takes stamina. It is likely you’ll be passed over in favour of other applicants several times in your quest for employment, until you are ultimately successful. Mentally preparing yourself to be ready for this experience is good advice; but yes, even then, anyone can feel the pain of rejection.

One of the biggest frustrations for many is the lack of feedback they receive. In applying for a job you may not even get contacted whatsoever, or you may get an interview and no further; no second interview, no job offer and worse I suppose, no further contact. What went wrong? How can you be expected to note a problem and improve without feedback? You invested in the application and the interview, haven’t you got a right to the courtesy of contact and yes, some feedback on how to improve your odds at getting a better result next time?

In other situations we find ourselves in where there’s a test or an evaluation process we count on that feedback. The Driving Test Instructor will tell us why we failed to get our licence, teachers will point out which questions on a test we got wrong. Professors will illustrate where our essays were lacking, a Real Estate Agent will point out what we might do to improve our odds of marketing our homes. In these and other situations, we get valuable information from those who rate our efforts so we can take that information and use it however we see fit.

The job interview though, well, not so much. There was a time when organizations did give feedback. However these days, there are far more applicants for every job advertised. There’s no way they will take the time and money to offer each person personalized feedback. Nor by the way, do they want to expose themselves to potential problems by having that well-intended feedback come back on them in some form of legal action – and yes, some rejected job applicants have taken this route and sued over the feedback they did get in the past.

So, expect that you’ll have many jobs to apply to before you achieve the desired results you want, and don’t expect to get the feedback you’d appreciate along the way. This job search therefore, will need discipline and stamina. It’s going to be tempting to pack it in, get beyond frustrated and annoyed to the point where you become bitter and disillusioned. Well, you can quit and make it easier for your competition or you can stick with it and work harder.

I would strongly suggest however that if you are in this situation, you do one key thing for yourself; pay a professional to check your current job search skills and most importantly give you advice and suggestions on how to best market yourself both in the application and interview phases.

I know, it’s tough advice to hear – paying someone to help you when you’re already out of work and lacking an income. However, if you get the valuable feedback you’re not getting from the organizations who hire, your new awareness will allow you to change your approach and this could shorten the length of time you’re out of work considerably. So do at least consider the option.

A sincere wish for success in your personal job search, whatever you choose to do.

 

 

Will You Admit You’re Biased, Have Preferences And Discriminate?


Discrimination: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

Discrimination: the ability to discern what is of high quality; good judgment or taste.

Sure you discriminate; so do I for that matter. You and I we have our preferences and they are revealed when we pick up one brand over another in a shopping trip. Why sometimes we’ll pay more for something we see as having higher value. We might stand in a longer line than another if we feel we’ll have a better experience dealing with the ticket taker, the Airport Security or the Cashier at the check out. Why to be a discriminating buyer is a compliment isn’t it; you don’t just, ‘settle’ for things, you have impeccable taste and exercise discriminating judgement. So can we both agree that you and I discriminate? I think so.

Ah but then there’s our first definition of discrimination up there at the top of this piece. This is the definition of discrimination we are likely to want to distance ourselves from; well most of us. We could argue that someone like the current President of the United States is discriminating when he puts forward an, “America first” agenda, or proposes legislation that bans people of certain countries from flying and of course there is his plan to build a wall separating his country from Mexico. Discrimination? Absolutely, yet there he is at the very pinnacle of power and influence. So holding such a polarizing view can get you to the top and apparently allow you to stay there too; at least for a while.

Like you I hope, I’m not in favour of discriminating on the basis of race, age or sex. This being said, there are situations where I do agree one should. Take for example the staff who work in a safe house for women who have been abused. I could be the most empathetic, kind and supportive Crisis Counselling Support Worker out there, but for some woman who has just fled an abusive relationship, all she might see upon entering that safe domain is a male in a position of authority and that could trigger fear, alarm and prevent her from even wanting to be accepted in. No, I agree there are jobs that should still discriminate based on gender.

Now some jobs that in the past were exclusively reserved for one gender or the other have or are in the process of opening up. Nursing used to be a female-only dominated profession. Now of course we see male nurses and I applaud the men who have committed to the profession and aren’t necessarily angling to become Doctor’s; who have reached their goal of working in the medical health field and perform their work with skill and dedication.

Soldiers used to be exclusively male; women were once limited to working in factories to support the war effort, or as I say in the health care field, treating the wounded and dying. Now we’ve reached the point in many countries where women have the option to serve. If that is their wish, and presuming they can match and pass the standards that have been set to keep soldiers trained and ready for battle, than why not?

But it’s this other blatant discrimination that gets most people upset and rebelling against. You know, the employer who denies employment because their skin is of a certain colour, the applicant is too young or old, has no experience at all or is overly qualified. Maybe it’s a person’s sexual preferences, their lifestyle, religious denomination or faith, choice of clothing, height, weight, health etc. There are any number of things we find and hear about where someone is certain they’ve been discriminated against.

We hear hateful discrimination in comments like, “Why don’t you go back where you came from!”, and not only is it hateful, it’s hurtful. Ironically, the victim of such comments isn’t even from a foreign country as the person talking suspects.

Collectively, I believe we have to do better. Isn’t it all about inclusion and not exclusion? Isn’t what we’re striving for really is to be better at choosing to hire people based on their skills and experience? And as for experience, how do people acquire that valuable experience unless somewhere along the line someone gives them that first break; that first opportunity to gain the experience we’ve come to value?

Yet, I know as I suspect you do, that there are employers who favour local experience over experience gained elsewhere. While that can mean a Canadian employer prefers Canadian experience, on a micro level, it can mean an employer prefers to hire someone with work experience in the same city, town or who went the to same school they did. We often hear that people like to hire people who look like them, talk like them, act like them.

Be careful though I say; there is a risk that some excellent people with different backgrounds and different experiences could bring an infusion of energy, better ideas, more innovative methods and practices. If you or I discriminate against these same people, then the opportunities are lost.

So think before we speak, consider before we reject, pause before we act, and make sure we treat others as we’d wish to be treated ourselves.

That’s how I see it anyhow.

 

Have You Failed By Taking A Short-Term Anything Job?


Suppose you’re one of those people – and there’s a lot of them out there these days – who have some education beyond High School. You’ve planned all along on pursuing a job that makes use of that education. However, with a widening gap of unemployment on your résumé matching your growing frustration at not working, you’ve found yourself finding the idea of just taking a job – any job – more and more appealing; something you thought you never would. There’s this nagging notion that you’ve failed though that keeps you from actually applying for work outside your field of education. So have you?

The short answer is no, you haven’t. Exhale and breathe a sigh of relief. Do that a few times and read on.

There’s a lot of common sense involved in doing exactly what you’ve contemplated and like I pointed out in the beginning, you’re one of many who are well-educated and unemployed. It is not only understandable that you’d be looking at broadening your job search at some point – perhaps where you are at the moment – it’s also a very good idea.

So how come? I mean, Employment Coaches and Counsellors often say you should stick to your career plan and never give up on what you really want. Doing anything else is just settling isn’t it? What happened to finding your passion and not letting any setbacks get in your way of going after what’s going to make you truly happy? Flipping burgers, selling clothes, walking school kids across busy intersections: these aren’t the kind of jobs you thought you’d give more than a passing glance at. Could you ever imagine you’d actually be seriously thinking of going after one of these jobs at this point having finished College or University?

Hang on and settle down. We’re not talking forever here. No one is suggesting that you start your first day down at the fast food outlet and pump your first shouting, “Yes! I’ve arrived!”

The jobs we’re discussing here have been in the past called survival jobs. More and more they are also called transition jobs; work that bridges the gap of time and space between the present and a job in the future. These are typically short-term positions outside your field of training and education.

When you find yourself browsing these ads more and more and seriously thinking about actually applying, may I suggest you change your line of perception. Instead of thinking that you’ve failed; that your post-secondary education was a waste of both time and money, consider the positives of these transition jobs.

First and foremost, the income from a job – any entry-level job – will stem some financial bleeding. Admittedly while likely minimum wage, money is money and some is better than none. Perhaps more important than money however is the inclusion factor. Right now you’re outside the workforce; remember feeling that everyone has a job but you? That so many people you see from your window seem to have somewhere to go, something to do, while you sit and grow despondent, frustrated and perhaps depressed? Uh huh. Yep, getting up, showered, dressed and out the door with a purpose is always good. That routine you’ve been missing is more important than you might have thought.

Now if you’ve looked at that School Crossing Guard advertised on some Municipality’s website and scoffed at it, think again. First of all those hours; before school, at noon and late afternoon leave you two chunks of time – mid-morning and mid-afternoon – to continue your targeted job search. Of even more significance perhaps is that once you land a Crossing Guard job, even though you’re working outside, you’ve at the same time become an internal employee. Had you considered that? Yes, you’re now able to see and apply for the internal jobs with that Municipality; jobs that up until now you had no access to. Full-time jobs that pay much better and perhaps come with benefits too.

That Crossing Guard job might be one you have to take for 3 or 6 months before you’re eligible to apply for anther internal job. Okay so be it. Do the job at present and do it with a positive attitude. You’ve got this job so you might as well enjoy it and keep telling yourself you’re in transition from this to your next job – the one you really want.

Remember you don’t have to add a short-term job on your résumé, but consider doing so because it does bridge a gap. In your cover letter or at an interview you can certainly state with confidence that you took the short-term job where you are working to pay the bills but you’re highly motivated to seek work in your field as this is where your passion and strong interest are.

A failure? Far from it. You’re wise enough not to let pride get in the way and perhaps it even demonstrates your belief that no job, and certainly not the people doing them, should be looked down on. Perhaps it’s helped you learn humility and an appreciation for the hard work involved which you’d previously overlooked. Perhaps too you’re actually better for the experience and will be all the more grateful for the opportunity to work in the field of your choice doing what you love.

Suddenly, you might be more attractive to your employer of choice.

 

Cover Letters: Passive vs. Assertive


I often have the opportunity in my line of work to look over and review cover letters written by job applicants. One of the most common trends I notice is the tendency to use passive language; words that often communicate a different message than the one you intend.

Let me give you a few examples; phrases you might be using yourself and may wish to avoid using in the future.

“I would like to express my interest in applying for the position of…” This sentence, or some version of it is often one I read that starts off a cover letter. So how does it appear to you? Any problem with it? As I read it, I always think to myself, “Well, if you would like to express your interest why don’t you?” In other words, re-word it to read, “I am expressing my interest…” By removing the words, ‘would like to’, the sentence shifts from a passive indication of what the writer would like to do, to an assertive statement of what they are doing; in this case expressing interest in the job.

Another example is, “I believe I have the qualifications you need.” Once again the sentence is not as strong as it needs to be. If you drop the first two words of the sentence – ‘I believe’, the sentence suddenly becomes more assertive. “I have the qualifications you need.” This isn’t in doubt anymore; I have what you stated you need. The first statement leaves room to question whether the writer has the qualifications or not; sure they believe they have the qualifications but they might be mistaken.

Let me provide one more example at this point and it’s a classic. “Please find my attached resume.” Really? Applying for this job is extremely important to you and you are asking the employer to go find it? Did you hide it somewhere? Why make it sound like you’re playing hide and seek? “I have attached my résumé” is actually the case, and therefore why not just indicate so? This is one of the most annoying phrases apparently when I’ve listened to employers tell me what they find irritating in the cover letters they receive.

Now the biggest concern for job applicants when writing assertively is the fear of coming across as aggressive. Take the phrase, “I would like to apply for the position of…”. Somehow it seems aggressive to some people to just drop the, “would like to’ and replace them with, ‘am applying’.

This feeling of being aggressive is even more pronounced in another common cover letter-writing  tendency. Let me set it up first by asking you one question. Do you apply for jobs for which you meet the stated qualifications? I assume you do. While every so often it’s good to stretch yourself and apply for positions where you meet most but not all the employers stated needs, more often than not I imagine you also apply for jobs where you tick all the boxes of what is being asked for. So why then is it seemingly difficult to actually state this in the cover letter and let the employer know that you meet all their stated needs?

Consider writing the phrase, “Having read your stated needs in the job posting, I am confident in stating I have all the qualifications you need. In short, I am the candidate you’re looking for.” Wow! Could you write that? Does it sound like you? Many applicants I work with get a little gun-shy about using this phrase because to them it sounds like boasting. Or, it sounds like they are better than other job applicants. My rebuttal is, “Well aren’t you?”

Now it’s not boasting if you are truly qualified. You can see on the job posting exactly what the employer has stated they need from those applying. If indeed you check all their needs, and if you really want the position, then shouldn’t you believe you are in fact the candidate they are looking for? Of course you should! So why be hesitant to say so?

It probably harkens back to what mom or your primary school teachers said over and over, “Don’t think too highly of yourself. Nobody likes someone who boasts about themselves.” But this isn’t boasting. This is self-marketing; stating that you do indeed have what they are looking for. And quite frankly, should you ever apply for a job where you believe you aren’t the best candidate? Wouldn’t that be a waste of your time? Sure it would. So if you really do believe you have the right combination of skills, experience, education and the right personality to match, I say be assertive and communicate so in your writing.

This need not transform you into some pompous, arrogant know-it-all who will rub the employer the wrong way. I’m not suggesting you change your character and pretend to be someone you’re not either. That’s disingenuous and will always turn out poorly. Writing with assertiveness however just accentuates your position.

Here’s my last point; please ask for the interview. That after all is the thrust of the whole cover letter isn’t it? “I am requesting an interview to best show my strong  interest and suitability for the position of…”.

Re-read a cover letter of your own slowly and see if you can strengthen your presentation by using some of these tips.