Don’t forget this step when applying for a job

step-740In a new article on the Seattle Times website, Lisa Quast stresses the importance of thoroughly reading job descriptions.

Once, while conducting interviews for an open position in my department, it became obvious that a candidate hadn’t bothered to read the entire job description that was posted online. That told me he wasn’t very interested in the position. It also gave me some insight into what his work habits might be.

For example, I imagined he was probably the type of person who waited until the last minute to get things done, who didn’t complete adequate research or analysis for projects, who didn’t anticipate questions that might be asked when presenting in front of groups. Needless to say, he didn’t get the job.

Well said. She also gives six tips for job seekers to help them avoid unnecessarily creating the impression that they are not well informed.

Fast Company: Develop your unique strengths

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Often leadership advice is given in one size fits all packaging. An article in Fast Company says that cultivating leadership isn’t about emulating Steve Jobs or some other ideal figure, but about finding ways of discovering and developing your Unique Strengths. For example:

1. Don’t compare yourself with others–but do approach people who inspire, and even intimidate, you.

Are there people in your life who wow or even intimidate you? Are you jealous of them? Go up and introduce yourself, allow yourself to be a part of their lives, and even offer to contribute to their milieu if you are so inclined. If they have a quality you are charged by, perhaps you have not given yourself permission to explore and develop those sides of yourself? Consider aligning yourself with people you feel competitive toward–it’s a new world and we have much to learn from each other.

via 5 Ways To Discover And Develop Your Unique Strengths.

Jealousy is based on a fundamental epistemological error: the idea that we are all separate beings so one person’s success takes away from someone else’s.

Approaching, befriending, and aligning with figures who inspire us is not a way of becoming something other than our True Self, it’s embracing more of who we truly are ourselves.

In this way, the simple act of introducing yourself to someone you look up to can bring a degree of genuine enlightenment: allowing our ego’s competitiveness to give way to your higher Self’s infinite openness.

On the non-arbitrary relationship between name and occupation

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Your name is probably connected to your life’s occupation. Precisely why that is so is the subject of controversy and research.

Jessica Love writes in The American Scholar:

Cleverly designed experiments reveal a so-called baker-Baker paradox: we find it easier to learn that a particular face belongs to a baker than to learn that the same face belongs to a Mr. Baker. The word baker actually means something in a way Mr. Baker does not. Bakers wake up early, tie on their aprons, and bake. This preexisting knowledge constitutes something sturdy to which new associations can be bound. As for Mr. Baker, well we might suppose that he is male and, likelier than not, has an Anglo-Saxton ancestor.

The baker-Baker paradox has two caveats. First, we are considerably better at remembering names if we have assigned them ourselves. This is probably because the relationship between name and person is no longer arbitrary. We may see someone across the room and assign her the name Veronica because she reminds us of someone else named Veronica. This is no different than calling a fluffy creature Fluffy. If only we had more opportunities in life to name other human beings.

But caveat two is of more practical importance: to some extent, our names may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The very arbitrariness of Mr. Baker’s name, for instance, might land him a job. A number of studies have demonstrated that having certain names particularly those that sound ethnic or lower-class (and thus contain demographic information that makes them, well, less than arbitrary to many employers) will hurt job seekers chances of landing an interview. According to economist David Figlio of Northwestern University, a girl whose name sounds more feminine (as determined by a longer length and greater frequency of soft consonants) is less likely to study science than her twin sister with a less feminine-sounding name.

via The American Scholar: When Rosemary Should Be Rosy and Merry – Jessica Love.

[Read more…]

LinkedIn study: your first name is related to your professional title

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According to data released by LinkedIn, women CEOs prefer to use their full legal names, whereas sales professionals and male CEOs tend to use shortened versions of their names. These are among the findings:

“It’s no secret that people often associate their title, employer and even their education as part of what defines them and their professional brand,” said Monica Rogati, LinkedIn’s senior data scientist. “What’s interesting about this data is that we were able to discover a correlation between a professional’s name and the industry or functional area in which they work.” For instance, in the U.S., there’s an interesting relationship between the amount of letters and top names for professionals in certain functional areas. Sales professionals tend to have short names, around four letters (like Chip, Todd and Trey), while engineers tend to have longer names, around six letters (like Rajesh, Jeremy and Andrew). U.S. professionals in the food and restaurant industry tend to have longer French names (like Thierry, Philippe and Laurent). “Typically hypocorisms, the shorter form of a given name, are used in intimate situations as a nickname or a term of endearment,” said Dr. Frank Nuessel, the editor of NAMES: A Journal of Onomastics (a publication of the American Name Society) and a professor of classical and modern languages at the University of Louisville. “It’s possible that sales professionals in the U.S. and male CEOs around the world use these shortened versions of their name as a way to be more approachable and accessible to potential clients. Interestingly enough, female CEOs appear to prefer to use their full names and not nicknames, which could signify that they want to be taken more seriously and want co-workers to think of them in a more professional light.”

Whether you choose to use a short version of your name or a longer version, stick with your choice and use it consistently. It becomes a part of your professional identity and will help in establishing an online presence discoverable by search engines.

Leo Babauta: Do one thing well

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The following post is reprinted with permission from Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog:

I’m often asked how you can start doing work you love — how you can make a living doing something you’re passionate about.

I don’t profess to have all the answers, but the answer for me has been fairly simple:
Do one thing really well.

People want a more comprehensive answer than that, but in my experience, if you learn to do this, the rest will follow.

I write about simplicity. That’s all I do. Over the last 4 1/2 years of writing Zen Habits I’ve found success by focusing on that alone, and stripping away everything else that gets in the way. I’ve removed comments, I don’t do much social media (except for fun), I don’t do much email, I don’t sell ads, I don’t do consulting. I write about simplicity.

By doing this one thing over and over, I’ve gotten much better at it. Good enough, anyway, for people to want to read my work, and as the audience for my work has grown, so have the opportunities to make a living in a non-spammy way. The ways I monetize (print books, ebooks, online courses) are less important than how I’ve grown the audience.

Do one thing well.

It’s really that simple. Narrow down what you do, and do it repeatedly. Learn, grow, improve, read, watch, do it some more. When you’re really good at that one thing, people will want to pay you for it, or to learn how you do it.

It takes a lot of focus and practice to get good at doing one thing, but I’ve found that if you truly love it, it’s not really work. It’s play. And I never complain about playing at something I love.

Is your career taking a major zig zag?

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Maybe you don’t have a career in conventional work. Maybe you have a “body of work.”

In “Blow up traditional careers in favor of bodies of work,” Pamela Slim explains her approach in helping frustrated employees break out of corporate jobs. She says:

What is your body of work?

Your body of work is everything you say, affect, create, contribute and impact.

Smiling at your neighbor every morning as you get the paper can contribute to your bigger desire to see more happiness and joy in the world.

Your jaunt in a legal career may be a very important part of your body of work contributing to the health of busy professionals through your yoga-based health and wellness practice (see Kelly Newsome’s story here and site here)

My passion for and commitment to seeing and stoking the fire of creation inside all human beings has led me from community development projects on the outskirts of Bogotá to non-profit education to teaching martial arts to corporate consulting to entrepreneur coaching and writing a book. And it will take me new directions in the future, without having to feel constrained by any one audience or business or job title.

A body of work is big and deep and complex. It allows you to experiment and play and change and test.

It supports creative freedom.

Read the whole post here.

Thinking about having a “body of work” rather than a “career” can be a useful way of reframing a major change of course, and helping you to stay grounded through a turbulent period of time. Not everyone’s work life fits the mold of a conventional career, but when you think in more flexible terms you can often find a unifying theme that helps you to make the most of what you do.