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Tips for Beating the Holiday Blues

MONDAY BYTES — December 15, 2014

Yep, it’s that time of year again: the season of overspending and overeating—a frenzy of shopping, travel, relatives, frantic work deadlines, played out against a background of saccharine muzak and ersatz cheer.

What’s not to love?

With all this, many people experience seasonal stress and depression: it’s a normal response. Here are a 3 small miracle tips to help make the season brighter:

1. Give yourself time: unplugged quality time, even 20 minutes a day can work wonders. Take a walkwithout any device. Be quiet in your head, let go of your to do list, breathe, and take a look at what’s around you.

2. Give thanks: make a mental list of what you are grateful for—small and large. List your everyday experiences, abilities, and opportunities that you may take for granted. By thinking about these, perhaps on your morning or evening walk (#1), you will absolutely improve your energy and mindset—this I can guarantee!

3. Give your full attention: This is the most valuable gift we can give others: active listening. So instead of waiting for others to stop talking so we can make our own point, breathe deeply, and focus on the other person. Take in what they are saying (words and affect). Be fully present and put yourself in their shows. Empathy is a gift that comes back to us threefold.

This week: Give yourself these gifts: try incorporating one a day—it’s great to be generous with your time, attention, and your thanks!

For info on working with me: details are HERE.

Monday Bytes archived posts are HERE.

Cover Letter Secrets Revealed

MONDAY BYTES — December 8, 2014

How do you write a cover letter that piques the interest of the employer enough to spend more than the usual 6.25 seconds on your résumé?

I. Adjust your perspective. The cover letter is NOT about you: it’s about meeting the employer’s needs. So your letter should not be a catalog of all the fab highlights of your career. It should NOT scream “me, me, ME!”

Instead, analyze the job description and research the institution’s website so you can write specifically and persuasively towards that job.

So, don’t write a generic cover letter “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam” in which you simply swap out the name of the institution and the position title and otherwise keep the rest of your template ”as is” from one job to the next.

II. Structure your letter: each paragraph should have a specific mission—and be organized around a clear topic. Your letter should be concise, specific, and well organized: keep it to one page.

1st paragraph: state what you are applying for: the position title and the institution’s name plus where you found the listing (or who referred it to you if that person is known to the employer).

Last and not least: state WHY you are specifically interested in working at THAT institution.

This should not be a gratuitous or generic “your terrific school/company/organization” but something concrete and genuine that shows you really know that institution’s  strengths. Do your research.

In the 2nd graphfocus ONLY on the primary skills and experience the employer seeks (as stated in the job description). If you start your draft of this graph with “My most relevant experience includes . . . ” this will help you be concise and relevant.

And in the 3rd graph, focus on skills and experience of secondary importance to the job. For a teaching job, for instance, your 2nd graph should be on your teaching experience and your 3rd might be your selected performance (or composition) experience—tailored to the employer’s interests. ”My selected XXX experience includes . . .”

Again, stay focused on what the employer is specifically looking for at her/his institution, so tailor the order and details you write towards THOSE points!

In the Closing paragraph, restate your enthusiasm for the position and thank the reader for considering you. Keep it simple.

III. Watch your tone: it’s all too easy to come across as overly confident and presumptuous, and therefore unprofessional.

On the other hand, you DO want to come across as enthusiastic about the work that the job entails. This can be a tricky balance so getting professional help can be a huge benefit.

Why cover letters matter: what your letter reveals is how you think, how you communicate, and how you see yourself in relation to others. That is what the employer is sampling when she/he reads your letter.

And that’s why they matter—it’s your opportunity to really show who you are and to make a great first impression.

This week: take a look at the last cover letter you either wrote or received. Analyze it for tone, content, and structure. Put yourself in the shoes of the employer and ask yourself, what in this letter works and why?

For info on working with me: details are HERE.

Monday Bytes archived posts are HERE.

Unexamined Assumptions Uncovered

MONDAY BYTES — December 1, 2014

Many musicians fall victim to Magical Thinking when it comes to careers. It’s the notion that if they practice really, really, REALLY hard, that they will catch their “lucky break,” be “discovered” and be catapulted to success.

Underneath this magical thinking is a series of assumptions. Check these: true or false—

1. Practicing for many hours will yield the desired results.
2. Success comes from “lucky breaks.”
3. A lucky break is someone else “discovering” you and making things happen FOR you.
4. Practice plus luck equals success.

We all operate on unexamined assumptions of one kind or another: about ourselves, other people, about life, careers, or success. Some assumptions help us, and others not so much.

This week: take a moment to notice one of your career assumptions.

For info on working with me: details are HERE.

Monday Bytes archived posts are HERE.