Miesiąc: Maj 2016

People who write letters

Have you ever tried to write a cover letter? And have you ever had a pen friend? 

Writing a cover letter seems difficult but it may become easier, if you only imagine the company you are writing to is a human being.

When I was 10, I was writing with a young Japanese girl. Yes. When I was little I wrote letters in English using very simple sentences. Once every few weeks I opened an envelope with a reply from my Asian friend, a sheet of paper embellished with a hundred of cartoon decals took me, for a moment, to the Far East. Pink stationery and rudimentary information, read by me with the care of the most diligent pupil, still brings a smile to my face. Fate decided that I’ve started to miss those letters.

How Batman recruited Robin

Imagine Batman or Sherlock Holmes, they both in their super existence and during countless adventures needed Robin and Dr. Watson. They both had their faithful brothers in arms they could rely on no matter what! Its just the way it is, our success depends people from the backstage. If the teenage Robin suddenly fell ill, went on a binge or simply went to college, Batman would have to start recruiting for the sudden vacancy.

Lets look at how Batman is going to recruit a worthy sidekick. We may imagine that his super-Batman inbox is filled with resumes of people (or creatures), who have absolutely nothing in common with the potential Batman helper.

There will be, for instance, a resume from a gravedigger, a pigeon-fancier, a lady from the bakery and a priest. Let’s face it, any of the above, at least on my street, dreams of being a celebrity.

For Batman though, these applications do not reflect any experience or skills a sidekick should have. So he would have made a list…

Gravedigger

Pigeon-fancier

Lady from

the bakery

Priest

Knows the dark side

Knows his s**t

Knows who knows

Know that something is going on

…and come to the conclusion that everyone knows something, which does not qualify them to be discarded nor to be particularly favourable towards their application.

What could any of these candidates do to increase their chances for being selected?

Write a letter

It seems to me, that “the generation of winners does not believe in letters, and today it is difficult for people to start writing cover letters as they all assume that their resume will defend itself.

Obviously, I admit that for a programmer just a resume should be sufficient. But when we imagine a job market situation where the programmer cannot find a coding job and wants to work as a carpenter instead. What will make his job application stand out and be selected?

Why do we not write letters and struggle with elaborating on all the value we can bring to the company? Gina Rudan, in her book Practical Genius, uses the term fat brains in relation to people between 20 and 35 years old. They are those who want some change, combine work with fun, look for creative solutions to problems and experiment with new things. I thought to myself that perhaps there is the fear of vain and unnatural writing, because they never taught at schools what self-promotion is. I left that thought a moment later and it made me sad.

Recruitment sometimes is more like catching fish in a fast-flowing stream. Like a Grizzly bear standing in a river catching salmon that quickly swim upstream. The fish are not entirely sure where are they going and the bear tries to catch anything it can.

Opportunity to change industry

I must admit that a change in career is difficult even, if our initial choice was made unknowingly. Most people do not wonder where and what they do but how much they are paid. At a presentation, I mentioned in another note, the presenter called such behaviour (I’ll allow myself for a nicer paraphrase) “making choices out of thin air.”

Not many candidates appreciate the importance of a cover letter, which requires some good will both from the candidate and from the recruiter. Sometimes it is enough to just want, and a letter written to a ‘real person’ and not to an idea of a large organisation will draw interest from more than one eye. Give ourselves a chance.

On the road to self-design

On the road to self-design

Do you ask yourself : What is it that I really want? What I want to be? What should I study? What to do next?

Well… you are not the only one. Recently, guided by my badgering curiosity, I went to a presentation of a project. I was interested by both the topic of the meeting and the people I was about to meet. The cross-section of personalities was quite unpredictable and the urge to observe and find my own place in the line – huge.

For over 3 hours, we were being convinced how wonderful it is to help others in finding their own, true “self”, to uncover their willingness of career fulfilment and, in a close relationship with a customer, draw a perfect pink picture of their new career.

The cross-section of personalities

What could not escape my attention, and I thought everyone else in the room had missed, was that this group featured confusion, uncertainty and timid portion of seeking true self. There met young mothers already gone through a long maternity leave; timid students talking in quiet, trembling voices about a standstill, right before their diploma defence; and a number of employees from X, Y and Z companies who, somehow, were quickly bored by a monotony of yet another job.

All that time I was wondering how (without a definite definition of oneself, who you are, who you want to be in the job market) can one design a career for other people? Is becoming a counsellor, a coach or a career designer a cure for own dilemmas? Will a diploma for a few thousand zlotys, in an angelic way, help us believe in ourselves? Will it makes us into heroes who run to the rescue of people like us?

Career designers they were called

For me the presenters lacked conviction. Their attitude, the words, the stories told, where I could not notice any specifics, made me turn to a girl sitting next to me and say, “During these 3 hours, I have fallen asleep three times and died twice.” Please, someone explain, how a seemingly experienced, qualified psychologist tries selling a product to a group of complete strangers without knowing what is the psychology of success? Oddity. Absurd. How can you not think of it as a joke?

It was also not the first time when I had to face an unacceptably colloquial language used in a professional presentation. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, and I dont know the latest communication trends, but all these repetitive ugly words did not establish any friendly common ground of understanding. I thought that this is how one makes up for the lack of vocabulary and cover up the lack of preparation.

I was squirming with impatience in my chair and, contrary to what was happening around me, I was defining myself as a person who had happily passed the stage of professional unruliness and slowly but steadily had been working towards her objectives. If any of my close friends reads this note, they surely notice and agree that this is what I usually wish to people: reach your goals.

These wishes are to encourage the one receiving the wishes to reflect and to find an answer to the key question: Quo vadis. Do I know what I want and where I am going next?

Orginally published in Polish here