How to Get Your Dream Job Without the Required Experience

Ambition of a young architect

Right major?  Check.  Enough software knowledge?  Check.  Cultural Fit?  Check.  Sufficient years of experience?  Uh-oh.

You’re looking at the job listing for your ideal gig just a little while after graduation and feel the excitement mounting inside of you with every requirement you know you can fulfill.  Then you see that you need 2 years of work experience – which you don’t have as a new grad.  Ugh.  Do you pull back and look for a position that you don’t want as much?  Do you resign yourself to a job you know will bore you for the next couple of years?

No.  Stop and think like a hiring manager. They are looking for candidates who know their stuff.  It just so happens that the general consensus says knowing your stuff requires some experience in the industry.  This study by McKinsey & Co. and Chegg even says that college graduates are under prepared but overqualified for employment…a finding that will naturally push hiring managers away from hiring recent grads.

So clearly, your next step should be to prove that you are sufficiently prepared for employment.  How?  Build a portfolio of work similar to what you would be doing on the job and submit it with your job application.  Refocus the potential employer’s attention on your skills and potential and away from metrics that don’t necessarily describe what you can do properly.  Here’s how.

 

Step 1 – MOOCs:  Learning the Skills

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are classes from well known Universities that professors modify for distance learning to allow access to any student for free.  Many of these courses teach exactly the same material as what the professors teach in their traditional classes, but you can take them in your spare time without spending money to build your knowledge and skills base.

Keep in mind that your major and college classes are not the full span of your capabilities.  An English degree is a great base for a copywriting career, but taking a few classes on your own time in marketing techniques can give your writing the boost you need to land that job at an ad agency.

Websites like Coursera and EdX provide great platforms for MOOCs.  It is important, however, to record your work for the class.  The assignments and projects you complete are great additions to your professional portfolio, as they legitimize the coursework you do through MOOCs.  You can keep track of all this by downloading your work as you complete it, or by using websites like Accredible to transfer all of your online coursework to one place that can be linked to the rest of your portfolio.

 

Step 2 – Speculative Projects/Case Studies:  Applying the Skills

There are case studies all over the internet – taking a few and using skills you learned from college and your MOOCs to write an analysis for each can help get your feet wet in the kind of thinking you need to solve problems in your industry.

Speculative or freelancing projects are also great ways to simulate what you will be doing later in a full time job.  Telling a small or mid-sized business or nonprofit organization that you are willing to help them out for free or little charge is an easy way to land some of these projects – this is time you are spending building work experience regardless of the amount you are getting paid.

Specifically working with nonprofit organizations in a volunteer position not only gives you the added experience for your newly developed skills, it also shows a more human side of your personality.  Maybe your volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity relates to your passion for fighting poverty, or perhaps your commitment to proper healthcare is showcased through your extensive work with the Red Cross.  Talking about your volunteer work in an interview is also great way to transition to you personal qualities and cultural fit.

 

Step 3 – Research:  Effectively Showcasing the Skills

Know what’s going on!  Read the news, find new articles on techniques and technology, and learn to use the newest software.  Once your profile gets you to an interview, you still need to prove that you can hit the ground running upon receiving an offer.

Having background knowledge about developments the company and its industry can help you come up with possible solutions to their problems before you are even working there – there is no better way than that to show that you would be an asset to the team.

Follow those three steps and you can show the hiring manager that you are perfect for your dream job because even though you don’t have years under your belt, you have the necessary skills and can demonstrate initiative to continue building more in the future.

Buzzwords Decoded: Dynamic

Innovation - Ideas Light Bulb Hatching

Welcome to another week of Buzzwords Decoded with Accredible!  Last week we cleared up the ruckus around ‘motivation’ and are back again with ‘dynamic’ to take your resume up another notch.

 

Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

: always active or changing

: having or showing a lot of energy

: of or relating to energy, motion, or physical force

 

How to Use it Incorrectly

Saying that you are a dynamic person can mean a lot of different things in a lot of different contexts.  Usually, ‘dynamic’ refers to something that changes.  In the workplace, that may not necessarily be a good thing.  Flexibility?  Yes.  Employee who randomly decides to change his approach to work?  No.  Are employers really that nitpicky about the word and its exact meaning?  Probably not, but if your usage of a word doesn’t click immediately, someone who has mere seconds to look at your resume will just gloss over it and you will have lost an opportunity to make an imprint in their mind.

Unless you have an extensive amount of work experience full of career moves and advances, your resume usually will be limited to 1 page.  Cramming your entire personality and life experience onto a single page is difficult and every word is precious.  Losing the chance to shine because of a poorly used word in an unfortunate opportunity cost.

 

How to Use it Properly

Like any overt claim you make about yourself on your resume, it is important to back it up and provide context. If the executive summary of your resume refers to you as a ‘dynamic go-getter’ and never goes back to explain why later, the word is lost and has no meaning.  Assuming you absolutely must use the word, talk about how dynamic your ideas were on a project.

Still, ‘dynamic’ is simply an overly vague word.  If you mean that you are a flexible person, use ‘flexible’.  If you mean energetic, just use ‘energetic’.  The person reading your resume is probably a person (or sometimes a computer, but that’s just another reason to keep it simple) who doesn’t use flowery vocabulary themselves in real life.  The easier you make it for them to get through your entire resume quickly, the more likely they are to get the impression you originally intended from your application.

 

Take Away

‘Dynamic’ is an odd word that doesn’t usually describe a person clearly without direct examples.  Even with a lot of context, it can usually be replaced with a much more simple and straightforward term.  Just Keep It Simple, Silly!

Do you have a resume cliche you’d like to see addressed in this series?  Leave a comment below with your word and the Accredibles will decode your cliche as quickly as possible!

He Flunked, Was Rejected, Went Bankrupt…And Then Founded The Walt Disney Company

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An actor, animator, filmmaker, and wildly successful businessman, its kind of shocking at first to hear that Walt Disney only had around 9 years of formal education.  He started school at the ripe old age of 7 and dropped out at 16 to join the military.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) for him, he was rejected for being underage and spent a year in France with the Red Cross instead.  After returning to the United States, Disney received his first job as a cartoonist in 1919, and the rest is history.

 

“Children have got to be free to lead their own lives.” – Sebastian, The Little Mermaid

small_2917335255Despite having strict parents, Walt grew up doing what he wanted when he wanted.  He was a shrewd businessman even as a child.  After his father, Elias, bought a newspaper delivery route, Walt was made to work for him without pay.  He knew how to make the best of his situation, though.  From delivering medicines for the local pharmacy on his route to selling extra papers without his father’s knowledge, Walt developed a thriving business of his own without any help, encouragement, or formal education.  This continued throughout his few years in high school and, of course, eventually led to exemplary management of the Walt Disney Company.

 

“The very things that hold you down are going to lift you up.” – Timothy Mouse, Dumbo

Classes came second to work for Walt during his schooling years.  His exhausting work schedule left little time to study, which had a heavy impact on his grades.  Even as he worked such a demanding schedule and small_6635533755trudged through school, however, Walt always found time to indulge in his passion for drawing.  He traded his cartoons for haircuts, became the cartoonist for his school’s newspaper, and later submitted to magazines and drew for his co-workers in Paris – all learned from just a couple of brief stints in art classes.

All the work, discipline, and cartoons did very little for Walt’s grades as a child, but he grew up to build The Walt Disney Company – so it is difficult to argue against the merits of his childhood activities.  He learned how to run a business, work with colleagues, and develop a skill that would redefine animation and serve as a catalyst into a new age of cinema.

 

“If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.” – Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio

Walt’s success can really be attributed more to his attitude than any form of education (and perhaps even small_2486345776experience).  “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”  This was the philosophy he lived by: to achieve excellence and watch the theaters fill up as his reward.  This attitude inspired Walt to take risks (like starting a business) that sometimes caused him to fail (he had to declare bankruptcy in 1922), but then he got back up again and made Alice in Wonderland.  

Teaching yourself anything can seem like an insurmountable challenge when you get a good look at just how much there is to learn, but the real magic is in the learning, not the teaching itself.  A teacher (whether its a person, software, book, or audio recording) can only teach as well as its student can learn.  Walt is an ultimate example of a sponge learner – he soaked up his experiences so well, he never even needed a teacher to hold his hand.

 

“You just need to believe in yourself.” – Rex, Toy Storysmall_9594201177

So basically: Walt Disney went to school for 9 years, flunked most of the time, dropped out of high school, never went to college, taught himself to be a businessman and cartoonist purely by learning while doing, and became the roots of one of the most admired companies in the world.  He must have done something right.

 

“Hakuna Matata!” – Timon and Pumbaa, The Lion King

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photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/expressmonorail/3108405260/”>Express Monorail</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
 

5 Awesome Online Learning Tools

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Whether you’re a high school student studying for a test, a college senior cramming for your last exam, or an entrepreneur taking an online class to improve your leadership skills, online learning tools can become your best friend.  Not only are they easy to use, but are also increasingly accessible and decidedly a leap into the future of education.  Here are 5 such tools to keep on your radar.

 

Anki – Powerful, Intelligent Flashcards

photo credit: ekai via photopin cc

Many of us are familiar with the beauty of online flashcards through Quizlet or StudyStack (fantastic classics that everyone should have bookmarked!), but Anki takes the undeniable efficiency of flashcards to the next level by making them ‘intelligent’.  Using spaced repetition software (SRS), Anki can predict what you already know and what you still need to learn, which lets it present only the information you still need to learn when you need to learn it.  So it pretty much organizes your brain for you – pretty cool and kind of scary (in a cool way).

If that isn’t enough, Anki is also highly customizable and controllable due to an open code and storage format.  Plus, you can download the app and study on the go (if you’re that hard core about it) or access the software online to prep from a different computer.  Conclusion:  Click on this link.  Stat.

 

Memrise – Learning, Powered by Imagination

Memrise is more of a tool to help you hone your mind and thought process than to help you study for a particular class.  Think Karate Kid: “Wax on, wax off.” Before you know it, you’ll be kicking butt on all your tests and projects (waxing rag in hand).

Memrise is the epitome of the gamification of learning.  You can learn the basics of languages, history, science, and trivia all while earning points and competing with other users.  It may not be the perfect tool to help you understand Organic Chemistry, but its definitely a solid summer tool to prepare for your upcoming class.  Conclusion: Check this out during your next study break!

 

Evernote – Remember Everything

Remembering a complex equation from your advanced calculus class, all the instructions your boss just gave you while you were drooling over your amazing chocolate cake from lunch, and the recipe for said chocolate cake can get complicated.  Evernote has your back with its family of apps that will help you stay organized.

Saving pictures, notes, screenshots, multimedia links, and documents in one place is the best way to make sure everything gets done, and Evernote makes it easy with a simple interface and myriad of features.  Conclusion:  Watch these videos. The background music sounds kind of like a Michael Buble song…and they’ll convince you to give the app a try!

 

Feedly – Read More, Know More.

mouse-306274_150Best thing about Feedly – it makes you sound smarter than you really are.  Just set up a few notifications for subject areas you want to know about and wait for Feedly to update you on the newest published material.  Next, just read, process, and voila!  You know about the new big thing before your non-Feedly-er interviewer or classmate and get to sound well connected and…well…smart.

Plus, its really easy to use.  You literally go to the website or download the app, pick a few websites and blogs, and start reading.  The only real effort you have to put in is to scan a few lines of words and process them.  Conclusion:  Unless you look into the Mirror of Erised and see nothing but yourself and your awesomeness, go here and pick a square.

 

ExamTime – Transform Your Potential

This one is the ultimate learning tool.  You can make mind maps and flashcards, take quizzes, and make notes.  The awesome part is that you can literally learn anything!  On my first visit to the homepage, the first thing I saw was a Breaking Bad quiz.  The second was a set of beastly chemistry notes.

If the founders of Quizlet, Evernote, a couple MOOC platforms, Google docs, and YouTube were locked in a room, they would probably come out pitching something like Examtime.  Conclusion: Give it a try!  Worst case scenario, you can brush up on some trivia.

 

Buzzwords Decoded: Innovation

Innovation - Ideas Light Bulb Hatching

Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1:  the introduction of something new

2:  a new idea, method, or device :  novelty

 

How to Use it Incorrectly

If there were beauty pageants for buzzwords, ‘innovation’ would be the declining star whose career took a lethal hit because of overexposure.  Innovation is the introduction of a new idea or method, which requires creativity.  So saying that you are, “an innovative, results oriented, go-getter” (which is pretty much what everyone says on their resumes, cover letters, and online profiles) is a fantastic way to ensure that whomever is reading about you will have glazed-over eyes within five seconds.

As a rule of thumb, glazed-over eyes generally mean your document is about to get trashed.  An extremely shocked expression will also achieve the same ends.  An obscene action in the middle of the street to get attention for your school play is not innovative – it is obnoxious.  Try to play it off as innovation to someone conservative or older, and you’ll be bringing on the shock factor.

 

How to Use it Properly

Three words:  Back.  It.  Up.

The reason “innovative, results oriented, go-getter” sounds silly is because it is difficult to simply take a candidate’s word for it that these terms describe them.  If it is important that your potential employer know that you are innovative, be sure to refer to actions or activities you have been a part of that required you to be innovative and the results of said innovation.

If you are throwing in buzzwords for the sake of resume or cover letter computer scanners, you know they don’t belong.  Keep in mind that after the computer decides you have enough buzzwords, a real person will also read your documents.  So if it just looks like buzzword bogus, you still won’t get that interview!

 

Take Away

If you are going to claim that you are innovative, you should show it with your use of the word and design and format of your application.  Being boring and formulaic contradicts your claim and makes your other claims questionable as well.  Solution: Be creative and provide proof for every claim you make!

Which Harry Potter Character Are You?

Old glasses on a letter

J.K. Rowling had not introduced the Wizarding World to the Wonderful World of Online Learning by the time the last installment to the Harry Potter series came out, but still, it is interesting to think about how students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry would have used MOOCs.  Here are a few Harry Potter characters and how they might use MOOCs.  Check out which ones you relate to the most!

Harry Potter

Favorite Subject:  Defense Against the Dark Arts

Struggles In:  Potionslarge__5130526465

Having conjured a corporeal patronus at 13, Harry is clearly a smart kid – a bit distracted (for obvious reasons), but intelligent.  His biggest issue in the entire series is usually that he doesn’t know certain things about the Wizarding World due to his Muggle upbringing.  The best way to counter this?  Hogwarts is Here.  HIH is an online learning platform dedicated to all things magical.  If you’re muggleborn or a half-blood like Harry who grew up with muggles, this is the best way to introduce yourself to the Wizarding World.  Some would also suggest Gilderoy Lockhart’s bestsellers, but his fraudulent behavior was exposed during Harry’s second year so his sources are unreliable.

Hermione Granger

Favorite Subject:  Transfiguration

Struggles In:  Defense Against the Dark Arts

For people like Hermione, knowledge is power.  But when a certain crazy Hitler-esque dude comes knocking so he can rip his soul by killing you, practical instinct becomes essential as well.  Buried in her books, Hermione’s dueling skills are not quite up to her standards for every other subject.  She can use online learning to enroll in theory and lecture based classes, but use forums and skype to interact with her peers and get tips on how to improve her dueling skills.  MOOCs can provide Hermione with a diverse network of people with whom she can discuss her weaknesses and how to fix them.  Said network can also help set Ms. Granger back on the right path when “she needs to get her priorities straight” and a certain Ronald Weasley is not available to do so.

Ron Weasley

Favorite Subject:  Lunch

Struggles In:  Everything

Ron struggles with developing an interest in learning.  He has trouble with paying attention in pretty much all his classes, so MOOCs are perfect for him to find introductory or 101 level courses.  He can use these to develop a basic understanding of the skills he will learn in class before term begins so that he can learn the details at a quicker pace.  Some introductory psychology will likely be beneficial for Mr. Weasley as well – they may expand his emotional range (which is currently that of a teaspoon).

Neville Longbottommedium_5000467933

Favorite Subject:  Herbology

Struggles In:  Potions

Poor Neville – a beast at potions and the abilities of a grindylow in every other subject.  Why?  Fear.  As Neville proves at the end of the series, he is no less capable than Harry.  He is, however, sheltered and scared to a fault.  Taking introductory classes like Ron would be helpful to Neville, but also using MOOC certificates and portfolios (like those at learning.accredible.com) to increase his confidence would do wonders for his performance.

Severus Snape

Favorite Subject:  Potionslarge__5110510098

Struggles In:  Unknown

Severus Snape is simply a poor communicator who can’t make friends or develop relationships with his professors, so MOOCs are perfect for him!  He can use forums to interact with his peers and fellow professors to avoid speaking to them in person.  Snape proves himself to be among the most intelligent wizards introduced by Rowling time and time again, so MOOCs can prove to be a great way for him to slowly develop social skills as well.

Draco Malfoy

Favorite Subject:  Potions

Struggles In:  Care of Magical Creatureslarge__5097284050 (1)

For Care of Magical Creatures, Draco Malfoy really just needs some tutorials on how to care for the animals and especially on how to act around them.  While traditional MOOCs certainly would hurt him, simply using YouTube to develop smaller skills would be Malfoy’s best bet at using online learning to improve his Hogwart’s experience.

Albus Dumbledore

Favorite Subject:  Transfiguration

Struggles In:  Nothinglarge__8996773123

Dumbledore doesn’t really need a MOOC since he’s good at everything…he just needs to see this video.

Tom Marvolo Riddle

Favorite Subject:  Evil
Struggles In:  Not Being a Sociopath

small_2746504545If you can relate to Tom Riddle (AKA Lord Voldemort), then you should probably see a therapist immediately before you start a genocide.  But first, visiting a few anger management MOOCs and tutorials would be a good idea.  So would finding a tutorial on how to mend a ripped up soul.  Maybe by using stem cell research?

 

 

A Trelawney prophecy the day before this article was written predicted that the vast majority of you readers would be of muggle or muggleborn origin.  As such, for you all, Hogwarts Is Here is highly recommended.  Like Harry, you can catch up on the basics of the upcoming term’s classes and learn about the history of the Wizarding World.  Get started today!

Making it Easier to Finish That MOOC

Finish Line

It sounds like it would be pretty classy, telling an interviewer (or a date) that you’re studying English Literature & the Classics at Harvard.  Luckily, MOOCs allow you the luxury of saying just that (without having to pay any tuition!).

What definitely wouldn’t be so classy is saying you dropped out of the class after a week.  Of course, we all run into scheduling problems and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything.  But that doesn’t mean you need to give up on your dreams of becoming a modern day Shakespeare!

Try ‘Always Open’ MOOCs

You go to a MOOC platform site and sign up for a computer science class that you need to take next semester at your home university.  You are excited because binary isn’t really your thing and this class will help you prepare for the next semester to make it easier for your to follow along during lectures.  Then, your boss calls and tells you you are scheduled to for dinner service every night next week.  You know you won’t be able to handle univeristy homework, school, and your new computer science MOOC at the same time.  With a heavy heart, you put the MOOC on the backburner and end up so behind, you have to give up on the 12-week MOOC altogether.

Now, imagine that this computer science MOOC was actually an open course that could be completed at any time.  You could turn in assignments whenever you wanted, could watch any of the lectures at any time, and could take as long as you needed for each project.  In this case, you could just start the class a week later than originally planned and not be at all behind.  Guess what?  There actually are great courses like this.  One is the CS50X Intro to Computer Science course from Harvard on edX.  It is an open class that is available for a full year and can be taken at any time within that time frame.  It is a highly praised MOOC with positive reviews from alumni and critics alike, and works around your schedule.

But wait…the offer doesn’t stop there!  What if you could have short open courses that take up a small amount of time and offer a whole lot of content?

Cut it Down

Platforms like Udemy and Khan Academy offer shorter tutorial-style classes that will probably not give you an in depth education in a particular subject area, but will provide a solid introduction.  You can complete such classes in a couple days or less, making them a great choice when your schedule is too busy for a long term class commitment.  You can cut down class time without halting your learning experience completely.

Cutting down on time commitment can also simply mean taking fewer MOOCs at once and being careful not to bite off more than you can chew.  The key to is plan a solid strategy.

Strategize

When you commit to earning a college degree with a particular major, you tend to plan out which classes you want to take and the best times to take them.  Knowing this in advance helps you plan your surrounding schedule in a way that it won’t impede on study time during a particularly tough term.

Doing the same with MOOCs is a great idea.  Planning out your time in 12-15 week blocks (a la semesters) will help you figure out when to take longer business core MOOCs and shorter ‘How to Make Marketing Plans’ tutorials so that you are able to learn everything you need within the time frame you want.

Apply these strategies, and you’ll be reading Shakespearean English in no time! Next you can make yourself sound even classier by adding foreign language and culture classes to your Accredible To-Learn List. Happy  Learning!

New features on Accredible: More Course Providers, Improved Course Finder and more!

Computer knowledge

At Accredible, we are constantly listening to your suggestions and improving the site. Here are the latest!

More Course Providers

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 6.20.44 PMCanvas provides mostly free classes from a wide variety of universities and subjects, including one on the World Cup and integrating data into journalism. Some classes are self-paced, while others have fixed start and end dates.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 6.24.03 PMOpenLearning provides lots of tools for students to aid them with their learning. From a personal blog upon sign-up to real-time data on how many students are enrolled in each class, the students are at the center. In addition, a “karma” system encourages forum and class participation.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 6.39.51 PMCodeschool provides programming courses in Ruby, iOS, Javascript and HTML/CSS. Their short courses include R, Git, Chrome DevTools and the Google Drive API. Get access to all their courses for just $29/month, or access the short courses for free.

More Course Details

  • In the Course Finder:
    • Sort courses by language, popularity and start date (in addition to the usual provider and subject)
  • On individual Course Pages:
    • Different information depending on the course
    • Recommended additional courses
    • Review courses (with a 5 star metric and a comment box)

 

In-Browser VideosScreen Shot 2014-06-23 at 4.27.43 PM

In the Course Finder, when you click on a video, a pop-up window appears, making it easier than ever to see if you’re interested in a course without having to leave the Finder. This also happens on specific Course Pages.

 

Check out the new features on Accredible, and if you have a feature in mind that you’d like to see, let us know here!

How to Demolish Procrastination in 3 Easy Steps

Do it now

Sophomore year was the worst year of my life in high school – I bit off more than I could chew and ended up in too many advanced classes with too few hours.  Before that year, I was so well organized that getting behind on my work was unheard of.  I would get all my work done immediately, and then proceed to nag my friends to do the same.  Why?  Because I had a great track record of success and was absolutely confident that I would do well on all my assignments.

Then during the Sophomore Year of Hades (SYH), getting my homework done or studying for a test took a lot longer because of all the extra material, and my confidence began to waver.  I became scared of not doing well in school, and so the immediate retaliation was to avoid it.  It was a whole lot easier to play a video game, watch a movie, or go shopping that it was to buckle down and face my new-found fear.

Fear – that was what pushed me toward procrastination.  I wasn’t that I couldn’t handle the SYH or my classes, it was just that I didn’t want to think about what would happen if I couldn’t.  This fear is the root cause of all procrastination, in fact.  Is your friend’s fiance procrastinating with wedding planning? I bet you his ring he’s getting cold feet.  Are you putting off starting on those MOOCs you want to finish before your new big project at work?  You’re probably afraid you won’t get them done in time anyway.

No matter how organized or motivated you are, you have probably procrastinated at some point in your life.  Its just a whole lot easier to binge on a new Netflix series than take notes on the week’s MOOC modules.  Wanting to do something that’s immediately more fun and interesting is natural, so why not use that nature to your advantage?  Try these 3 things to turn your work into fun and avoid procrastination.

 

1.  Set deadlines and reward yourself when you meet them.

Gamification of boring stuff, anyone?  Every time you finish one of those annoying-but-necessary worksheets, treat yourself to some ice cream.  Or a T.V. break.  Or anything else you like.

 

2.  Come up with creative study/work tactics.

My little sister loves Quizlet – whenever she needs to memorize a lot of stuff fast, she puts everything into a Quizlet deck and races a friend to see who can get the most right.  She gets to hang out with her friends and study productively at the same time.  (Pssst…Quizlet is a fantastic tool!)

 

3.  Track Your Efforts.

Finishing a task is great, but being able to look back and see how well your hard work paid off is a whole lot better.  Keeping a journal or calendar to look back at also gives you a template for future projects, which will increase you confidence and therefore decrease procrastination.

 

So the solution is to work backwards.  Procrastination comes from fear.  The goal is then to figure out where the fear is coming from and nip it at its bud.  In the meantime, just make the work fun and it will just keep getting itself done!

 

5 Mistakes Never To Make on a Cover Letter

Career concept in word tag cloud

When you are writing your cover letter, it is important to remember that your reader will likely have read dozens just like yours – all of which were trying to stand out just like you.  This reader will likely be bored and crabby, which means that they will probably be looking for excuses to weed you out.  In this situation, the worst mistakes are the kinds that make your letter boring or difficult to read.  Here are 5 such errors to avoid at all cost.

1.  Affect vs. Effect

If you’re writing a good cover letter, chances are that you will be discussing how you affected your past teams or what effect you had on a particular project.  The ‘affect’ your work had on the rising number of users will stand out like a sore thumb and hurt you rather than help you.

2.  Poor Salutation

Think back to those letters you get in the mail that start with Dear Resident.  Think about what your first impression is of a letter that starts out like that.  Probably that it is trash, right?  Well that’s what recruiters and hiring managers think when they see Dear Recruiter or Dear Hiring Manager.  Not only does it feel like a form letter, it also shows that you didn’t bother to figure out who you were supposed to address it to.  If you absolutely can’t find a name, don’t resort to a completely generic title.  It would be better to address the letter to Company Name Team or format your letter so that it does not need a salutation at all.

3.  Too Long

Unless you have truly world-changing experiences, your cover letter should never exceed one page.  In fact, the shorter the better.  This article from The Muse even says that the most successful cover letter in a job search experiment was only 150 words long.  Your cover letter is just your hook.  Save some for your resume and the rest for the interview.

4.  Repeating Your Resume

You already have your Resume to list your past jobs and education.  Spending valuable space on these things in your cover letter is redundant, and most importantly, a huge loss of opportunity.  Your cover letter is your opportunity to make the hiring manager like you.  Use your strengths to woo them.  Telling a story about a specific instance where your work made a big difference is a good strategy to use.  If you are writing a creative cover letter, you could even try out some humor (but be careful – you want them to laugh with you, not at you!).

5.  Cliches

Your game changing use of synergies or the sheer motivation you put forth is cliched and usually doesn’t even mean anything.  Can you prove to an employer that you are motivated?  Probably not.  Only claim things you can eventually relate back to an experience in your cover letter.  Throwing out buzzwords will make the reader’s eyes glaze over, and the next thing you know, your letter is in the ‘no’ pile.

Of course, always use your judgement.  Maybe you know for a fact that your cover letter is going through a buzzword scanner before your application goes further than a machine.  Maybe the company is too formal for a creative approach with the salutation or nontraditional letter formatting.  The most important thing to keep in mind is your audience: who are you writing to and how can you make yourself interesting to them?