DO know what distinguishes you.
Think “qualities” that describe what you’re known for, what makes you effective, and what you’re like as a co-worker or manager. Get out a thesaurus and get creative so that you shine!
DON’T bore people (or yourself) with dry, technical facts about yourself and lots of numbers. Balance the stuff that gives you credibility with personality.
DO use the affirmative voice. It’s great and wise to start sentences with I am, I can, I did. Take ownership of your strengths!
DON’T use the passive voice. “It’s been helpful to my clients to get career support from me.” Yeah, do you believe me? Would you hire me?
DO start your cover letters showing your experience matches what’s needed to do the job.
DON’T start your cover letters by talking about how excited you are about the company’s mission. It’s okay to say a bit (one or two lines max) about your enthusiasm for the mission; leave those lines for the end of the letter. You have to prove yourself first.
DO be specific. Make sure you are able to articulate the skills you use and the results you’ve achieved.
DON’T be vague. When you say you’re a people person, a problem solver or detail oriented without evidence to explain what that looks like on the job, you haven’t made the case that you’re qualified.
DO track your achievements so you can clearly communicate the impact of your efforts. Create an inventory of your accomplishments, that details the challenge or issue you addressed, what you did, and the results.
DON’T take your contributions for granted. It’s easy to think that the stuff you do every day (or that comes easy to you) is no big deal. And it’s easy to take it lightly when you don’t get appreciated.
DO research the company and the staff you want to work for.
DON’T call, write or apply for a job before you’ve researched and read up on their mission, culture, plans and values.
DO pay attention to grumblings that indicate you may want to make a career move. If you want to call in sick, or you’re saying no or snapping out coworkers, you may be ready to move on.
DON’T jump ship. Take time to research other job options, get some support, or take a class. Get a good idea of your options and keep your mind fresh.
DO give yourself time, space and structure to find work that truly satisfies you. Too many people take work that doesn’t challenge them, often because they fear failure or sell themselves short. Take time to investigate what you really want to do.
DON’T give up on yourself. You have a lot to offer.