Scholarship strategies: have we seen them before?

March 14, 2015

The art of applying for scholarships begins to look familiar to me. A family member is approaching college application time, and I’m gaining some early experience in applying for aid.  I had never considered how the process resembles job applications.  I’m referring here to the paperwork. Like a resume, the application and essay should

  • be absolutely perfect in grammar, spelling, and format,
  • address the question straight on,
  • be specific in relating one’s own experience,
  • be honest to the max,
  • include a work sample as attachment if appropriate,
  • reference links to online presence (after making sure one’s postings are something to be proud of!),
  • contain a dose of creativity.

And oh yes, get it in on time or a bit early. What do you think?  You who are experienced in the college application process, do you think it parallels writing an effective resume?  Care to share any secrets of success?


Thoughts from the chilly mid-atlantic

February 17, 2015

Will this month ever end?  Will the snow melt?  Are there crocuses under there, getting ready to do their thing?

Does the bleak midwinter remind you of your job?

If the analogy is valid, it might suggest that you are endlessly doing dull stuff, that you feel doomed to unfulfilling work, that your gifts are going unnoticed, and your own spring will never come.

Shake it off!  Make yourself available to the noonday sun.  If you are feeling lethargic, at least go through the motions of being interesting,  As the snow finally melts, er, when the economy continues to improve and expand, you’ll be ready.

What did you achieve in your current position?  

Be ready with a dynamic answer:

  • When I wasn’t selling, I was researching…
  • When I wasn’t with a patient, I was archiving…
  • When I wasn’t working on the website, I was finding opportunities to …

The Essential Cure for Exaggeration

February 8, 2015

First, I love Brian Williams.  I believe in him.  I watch his newscast whenever possible.

And I hurt for him in these difficult days.

He exaggerated in his narrative and he has been found out.

Has it happened to you?

  • When asked about an extracurricular activity in school, have you enhanced your role?
  • Have you stretched your importance on a work team?
  • Have you minimized your role in an losing campaign?

I think there are two steps you can take while seeking redemption:  you can take on a large dose of humility and you can correct the mistake immediately.  If you are job-hunting, stop right now.  Get out that resume and read it again.  Check it for total truth.  You might feel better and more confident that you don’t have to conceal a truth any longer.

It’s also a potentially great interview question. Have you ever stretched the truth about your performance on a job?  

I think the answer might be – Yes!  I was advised to stretch my role in a reorganization in order to keep my job.  I was so uncomfortable with that process that I vowed never to do it again.  And I haven’t.

Would anyone asking that question believe a no?  I don’t think so.  There’s something appealing and refreshing about a candidate who tells the truth about him/herself while showing emotional growth.

The colorful resume … literally!

January 21, 2015

What color is your resume?  If you are thinking I mean that metaphorically, sorry, that’s for another posting. Today it’s about color.  I could have named this post The Black and Blue Resume, but I think that’s a bit weird. Whether online or on a printed page, the all-black type on white background has a look of yesteryear about it.  You need a touch of blue. Blue as in hyperlinks. Blue that can lead the reader to a work sample, a photo, a positive review, press coverage, or any other aspect of your portfolio. Blue can guide one to your LinkedIn profile, your website, your blog, or your product. When I see a resume with no links at all, I worry that the writer isn’t connected to much.  Show us!  Lead us to your work and prove what you are saying about yourself. Reveal at least a touch of blue.

Arts, anyone?

December 28, 2014

I just observed one of my personal delights of the holiday season:  I watched my dvd of the 1951 television production of Amahl and the Night Visitors.

Went through half a box of kleenex.  And found so much remarkable, as I always do.  Is there anyone out there who remembers?

  • Those exultant, exotic chords of Menotti,
  • the resonance of the three kings,
  • the high, high treble notes of Amahl,
  • the wide vocal range of the mother…

And strangest of all, the concept of an original opera commissioned for NBC on Christmas Eve. Can you imagine a network show of this magnitude with no commercials?  Great music, great singing, a live orchestra?

The DVD is available – if you are interested, if you remember, if you actually romanticize the 50s, check this out.  The credits rolling at the end confirm that there was such a thing as the NBC Opera of the Air, an NBC symphony orchestra, and an affiliation with the conductor, Thomas Schippers.

In those days, kids took music lessons and practiced (almost) daily.  Shows such as Amahl and the Night Visitors conveyed the possibilities for artistically-inclined people.  Drama, sets, performance, singing … presented for our entertainment.  Think about it.

As Amahl sang, “Look, Mother, I can walk, I can run, I can dance”.  And so can the rest of us.

I wish all readers an inspired and successful new year.

Suggestion for a good read

November 17, 2014

In this premature onset of winter, don’t you long to hunker down under a quilt, hot chocolate in one hand and a good book in the other?

I can’t help you with finding the best hot drink, but I can suggest a book that I read through in one setting.  That was partly because I know the author, partly because the topic is near and dear to me.

The book is Going to Church: it’s not what you think by Susan Mann Flanders.  Susan is recently retired from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, where she served various functions in churches of all sizes: seminarian, associate rector, interim, and ultimately rector.

I grew up in a time when women clergy in the Episcopal Church were unheard of.  The question never came up.  Never in my experience.

Things changed drastically in the 1970s, and now the sight of a woman in a clerical collar looks downright normal to me.  But I don’t want to take it for granted, because I still rejoice in opportunities for people to use their gifts as they deem appropriate, unencumbered by stereotypes and rubrics of yesteryear.

Susan is such a person.  In this book, you can learn of her struggles and triumphs as her career has unfolded.  She has shared of her life and her emerging theology in honesty, which is a great model for those of us who would rather present ourselves to the world as people who have their act together.

If you know people who are “spiritual but not religious” or who have walked away from their Christian tradition because it doesn’t work any more, consider steering them toward this little book.  The appendix alone that contains a sermon on Abraham and Isaac is worth the read.

A word about the upcoming elections

October 28, 2014

We are a week away from the 2014 mid-term elections, and whatever state you call home has political action in the air.  On TV, on radio, in the newspaper, and in your mailbox are messages urging you to vote for someone or other.

In my home state in Maryland, we are electing a governor and a full slate of local representatives.

Lies!  Deception!  Distortion!  Exaggeration! What’s a voter to do?

What I do is think carefully about issues that really matter to me and then dig for the truth.  It’s not quite as simple as voting a straight party line, but that is a start.

Here’s the important thing:  take a stand, then show up and vote.  I hate the thought that we are governed by people elected by a tiny number of voters.  The rest of you?  Please care about something enough to do an imperfect job of research, show up,  and vote.

See you at the polls.  Please.

Why are you in this job?

October 27, 2014

See this lovely young woman baking biscuits over a coal fire?  No, she is not a Vermeer figure come to life.  Her name is Rhianna and she is a historical reenacter at the Beamish Museum in Northumbria, UK.  I visited the Beamish recently.  Imagine – it’s a cold, windy, sometimes-rainy day, you step into Rhianna’s kingdom, you smell the warmth and scent of a coal fire along with fresh biscuits. And you get a friendly greeting.

We got into a conversation.  I asked if she is studying history or acting – just how did she get this job?  And what appealed to her?  (And yes, these are nosy questions, which I justified by saying that I’m a career counselor and am always on the lookout for a good story.)

Rhianna said she is very shy and sought a job that forced her to interact with people, so here she is, explaining about biscuits, flour, copper polishing, and coal fires. all day long.

Yes, she is less shy than she used to be.

Rhianna, congratulations on making such a courageous and productive choice!  I loved our chat and indeed, all of the nice people in Beamish, who explain life and work in different times.

Beamish 2

Resume Review – a reminder

September 29, 2014

As the fall job search season gets underway, I know you are re-thinking your interview outfit.  Switching from linen to wool, light colors to darker, is part of your challenge.

Another challenge is to make sure your resume is as current as can be.  If you have not seriously updated your new elements  document in a few years, this neglect will be obvious to all who read it.

What to do?  Get some help!  You really need such elements as hyperlinks and evidence of your involvement in social media (your choice which venue to use).

And please allow me to propose (humbly) that you check out my e-publication, Reflections on Resumes: Taking a Second Look. You can learn about little tips and tricks that will give you the confidence that you are as current as can be,  and that you are displaying your accomplishments to best advantage.  You can be reading this small guide on your computer, tablet, or e-reader within a minute or so.

I’m Career Counselor Anne Headley and I approve this message!

The Interview Outfit: what’s that new accessory?

September 26, 2014

This morning, while entering data into my fitbit app, I got to wondering about the impact of wearing a fitbit bracelet on a job interview.

The fitbit is that almost-ubiquitous plain bracelet that you see in all kinds of basic colors.  My doctor has one.  My hairdresser has one. My swimming buddy has one. I have one!  There’s a pedometer and a heartrate monitor tucked inside the bracelet, logging one’s fitness level as well as sleep effectiveness.

So I picture the interview.  If the interviewer is noting your grooming, your outfit, shoes, watch, and shoes, why wouldn’t he or she notice this bracelet?  And what conclusions might one draw?

  • She’s commited to fitness – good for her!
  • Perhaps she’s a goal-setter.
  • She has embraced technology.
  • Interesting – I’ll ask her about it.  I’ve been thinking of getting one.

These are points in the applicant’s favor.

And those assumptions are at least partly true.  Committed to fitness?  Well, when wearing the bracelet, I’m on the lookout for ways to attain that daily goal and to log a few minutes into the more active category.  And yes, I had to install an app and then use it.  Techie, right?

Anyway, I think fitness apparel is a great way to support the traits you have already submitted on your resume.  It is a fantastic conversation starter, and also a great way to combat age discrimination.

What has been your experience with wearing a fitbit or comparable activity monitor?