The Leader’s Edge/Leaders By Design is proud to introduce January’s featured coach, Maribeth Renne.
Throughout this month Maribeth will be answering your career and leadership development questions. If you have a specific question you would like Maribeth or one of our future feature coaches to answer please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have been in my current position with my company for over five years. Although I have done everything I can think of to be promoted, there is just no place to go – no ‘up’ – for me in this organization. I know it is time to start looking elsewhere and I have updated my resume and am beginning to search for new opportunities. My question is this: do I need to write a cover letter when I respond to job opportunities? Won’t my resume suffice?
A well written cover letter provides another opportunity to demonstrate to the employer that your qualifications match their requirements.
- give us an opportunity to make a positive impression and distinguish ourselves;
- provide an opportunity to make a case for fit and build rapport;
- give us a chance to cover things we can’t express in our resumes such as passion for the role;
- enables us to show our professional communication skills to a potential employer.
My recommendation to you is to write an original letter for each job opportunity.
RESEARCH: Prepare to write your cover letter by doing your research. Look at the company’s website, its executives’ Twitter feeds, and employee profiles on LinkedIn. Check various news sources. Take notice of culture and adapt your tone in your letter. Know what the company does and some of the challenges it faces so that you can share your relevant achievements and accomplishments.
MATCH: Match your accomplishments and real-life experience to the needs and requirements in the job posting. Highlight achievements that are relevant to the position. Highlight pertinent “soft” skills and strengths. Show your fit. Use the same terminology as the company and whenever possible, try to find out who will receive the letter and use their name.
SHOW PASSION: Show passion for the position and tell the reader why you would love to join the organization. In the first sentence, state why you’re excited about the job and why you are the right fit.
Finally, Bethany, always remember to make the letter eye-appealing. Make sure it is not too long. Keep it to one page only with not more than four paragraphs and lots of white space. Remember to check and double check for grammar and spelling errors.
I commend you for actively managing your career and recognizing when it is time to look for new challenges. Good luck, Bethany!
I was recently given responsibility for an additional business unit and I’m thrilled because it provides me the opportunity to prove that I’m ready for the promotion I’ve been long seeking. An extremely organized person, I’m fully utilizing all my project management skills to keep all the balls in the air. I’m well supported and have the resources I need. So what’s my problem? Since taking on the new unit, I have been SO stressed out! I always feel like I’m in a big rush and hear myself barking out orders and sighing audibly when faced with long-winded colleagues in meetings. Instead of making my mark, I’m afraid I’m going to ruin my good reputation!
Hi, Ginger and thanks for writing.
First off, congratulations on being selected for this opportunity that you have wanted for so long and have worked so hard to get. With your drive, expertise and skill, and support and resources, it sounds like you have an excellent chance at being successful. You just need to take a few steps to ensure that you don’t derail.
Too often, when we finally get a chance like this to shine, we put so much pressure and stress upon ourselves that it can be detrimental to our performance. Too much stress can cause us to be irritable and impatient and make it difficult for us to focus. It sounds like this may be happening to you, Ginger, but the good news is that we can alleviate stress and be at our best by learning and regularly practicing some stress management techniques.
Ways of Alleviating Stress at Work
- Give yourself a break: It may sound counterintuitive, but one of the best things you can do when you feel overworked and overwhelmed is to step away from the work. Invite a favorite colleague to go with you for a healthy snack or take a walk around the block. Put lunch dates on your calendar so that you will remember to give yourself a midday break. Keep conversations light and refrain from talking about work topics.
- Stand up and stretch: Breathe slowly and deeply through a few of your favorite stretches and yoga poses. Just five minutes will rejuvenate you and help you center yourself.
- Laugh: Yes, laugh! The fastest way to recover from stress is to laugh, let go, and move on. Laughter serves to put thing back into perspective in times of stress. Keep a ‘funny file’ on your computer that you can go to when you need a good laugh.
Ways to Keep Your Body Strong and Able to Fight Stress
- Eat and sleep: Choose healthy, good-fuel foods to keep you at your best and get enough sleep.
- Engage in exercises with relaxation as the goal: Swimming, rowing, running, and walking are all repetitive-type exercises that serve to zap stress.
- Enjoy time with friends and family: Sharing time with people we love nourishes and replenishes us.
- Begin a mindfulness meditation practice: As ABC News Anchor Dan Harris says in his book, 10% Happier, “meditation is simply exercise for your brain. It’s a proven technique for preventing the voice in your head from leading you around by the nose.”
Basic Mindfulness Meditation
I suggest that you begin your practice by scheduling three minutes in the beginning of your day and three minutes at the end of your day to engage in the following steps. Slowly over time, you may want to work up to twenty minute practice sessions.
- Find a quiet, comfortable spot
- Set a timer so you are not distracted by watching the clock
- Sit comfortably in your chair with your spine straight, feet flat on the ground, hands in your lap or on the arms of your chair. Relax and focus inward
- Now focus your attention on your breath
- Breathe slowly and normally and really feel your breath. Notice as it moves through your nostrils, into your chest, and gently pushes out your belly button.
- Slowly exhale, concentrating on the air being released from your belly and chest and traveling over your vocal cords. Notice the tension the breath takes out with it and the sense of relaxation that takes its place.
- Each time your mind strays from the breath and begins thinking of something else, gently return your attention to the breath. It’s okay if your mind wanders; just bring it back to the breath.
Learn and engage in some of these stress management techniques, Ginger, and with your drive, skill and expertise, you will perform at your best in this new challenge and stand a great chance at being promoted to that dream job.