Here are five easy tips to follow when applying to a job.
They come from a survey carried out by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder amongst 3,244 full-time workers in the US private sector which highlighted common mistakes done by job seekers.
Customise your CV, talking the language of recruiters 54% of job seekers don’t customise their resume for each employer – Employers can spot all-purpose resumes from a mile away. Tailor your resume to match the job description by inserting key words used in the job posting that match your experience. Not only will this catch the eye of the hiring manager, but it can move your resume to the top of the pile if an automated tracking system is scanning resumes for potential candidates.
Find out who is the behind the offer 84% of job seekers don’t find out the hiring manager’s name and personalize the application – Applying directly to the hiring managers increases your chances of getting noticed and shows you’ve gone that extra step and invested time in getting to know the company.
See the cover letter as a real way to sell yourself 45% of job seekers don’t include a cover letter with their resume – Cover letters allow a candidate the opportunity to sell themselves beyond the typical listing of work experience and skills in a resume. Use a cover letter to introduce yourself and showcase your credentials in a relatable way.
Follow-up to show your interest 37% of job seekers don’t follow up with an employer after they applied – Recruiters can sometimes be overwhelmed by candidate applications for certain open jobs. Circling back with a recruiter or hiring manager after submitting a cover letter and resume can help job seekers standout among the competition.
Send a thank you note after the interview 57% of job seekers don’t send thank-you notes after an interview – This can be one of the most important steps in a candidate’s pre-hire journey as it enables you to reiterate why you’re the best fit for the job. Most recruiters and hiring managers expect a thank-you note in some form or another (email or handwritten), so neglecting this action will make you stick out like a sore thumb. Thank-you notes should be sent after phone screening calls, as well.
People were interviewed every two years about their physical and mental health, their professional lives, their relationships and also had to go through medical tests and exams.
Psychiatrist Robert J. Waldinger, shared some of the major lessons in this TED Talk. In this insightful speech, he presents us the key lessons that come from the tens of thousands of pages of information that have been generated on these lives. And the main one is: « Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period. »
Social connections are really good for us, and loneliness kills. And as Waldinger adds: « We know that you can be lonely in a crowd and you can be lonely in a marriage, so the second big lesson that we learned is that it’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, but it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. »
Furthermore, good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they also protect our brains.
Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese concept which literally consists of ‘iki’ (to live) and ‘gai ‘(reason) and means « a reason for being » – equivalent to the Western concept of « purpose » or raison d’être as one says in French – at the very center of four dimensions: what we love, what we are good at, what the world needs and what we can be paid for. In other words, it is more fulfilling and rewarding than passion, mission, profession and vocation separately.
Psychiatrist Mieko Kamiya, explains that ikigai is what allows you to look forward to the future whatever the way you feel right now. It is what gives you strength, resilience and hope when tragedy occurs. Whatever it may be, it is a source of energy and inner light.
Of course, your ikigai may differ from what you do to make a living. And this is absolutely fine as it can help you find your own balance. However, finding your own ikigai and living it daily is a way to secure a fruitful life and – potentially – a flourishing career as well. It is also how you could find pleasure in your current work, or a direction you would choose to realign your career. Dan Buettner formulates the hypothesis in a Ted Talk it would even be a way to live longer.
Coaching surely can help you identifying your ikigai.
In his book Ikigai, the Essential Japanese Way to Finding Your Purpose in Life, neuroscientist Ken Mogisuggests to start asking yourself three questions to find the first clues that will help you find it:
What are your most sentimental values?
What are the small things that give you pleasure?
What are the small things in the deep swamp of your mind that will carry you through a difficult patch?
Going further, you can ask yourself additional questions to detect and explore the components of your own ikigai:
What did you like doing when you were a child?
And what would the 12-year-old say about you if he saw you now?
Today, what absorbs you so much that you forget to eat and drink?
Which activities put a smile on your face and light in your eyes?
What would you put in your suitcase if you decided to go exploring the world?
What would your activities be like if every single morning you would be forced to leave your home and were not allowed to come back before the evening?
What is easy for you to do?
What are your talents?
On which of your activities are you complimented?
If you were living in an ideal world, what would it look like?
Which values would you like to see more often?
Answering those questions and digging into the material you will collect is the first step of a beautiful journey, no matter how long it takes. So let yourself be surprised by the destination. This is why Ken Mogi also set the framework of ikigai which he presents as being based on five pillars. Pillars that we would also present as benchmarks for your progress.
Start small, keeping in mind that life needs evolution not revolution
Release yourself, accepting who you are, eminently distinct from your ego
Pursue harmony and sustainability. Time and integration are key
Enjoy little things, the sum of them is priceless.
Be in the here and now, mindfully
From theory to practice and to observe the concept of ikigai in action, we invite you to watchJiro Dreams of Sushi, a 2011 American documentary film directed by David Gelb. The film follows Jiro Ono (小野 二郎Ono Jirō), a 91-year-old sushi master and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin three-star restaurant. Sukiyabashi Jiro is a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station and Jiro Ono is the oldest living three-Michelin-star chef. Dining in this restaurant is like experiencing with your five physical senses a perfectly well orchestrated choreography raising from a life dedicated to talent and perseverance.
Here are a few quotes coming from this film…
« There are some who are born with a natural gift. Some have a sensitive palate and sense of smell. That’s what you call « natural talent ». In this line of business, if you take it seriously, you’ll become skilled. But if you want to make a mark in the world, you have to have talent. The rest depends on how hard you work. »
« All I want to do is make better sushi. I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is. »
« Always doing what you are told doesn’t mean you’ll succeed in life. »
« If I stopped working at 85, I would be bored out of my mind… I have been able to carry on with the same job for 75 years. It’s hard to slow down. I guess I’m in the last stretch of the race. »
A very inspiring speech by J.K. Rowling, the famous author of the Harry Potter book series. She addressed graduating students at the Harvard University Commencement in 2008.
Speech starts at 3:20
Full transcript below the video, with a few highlightedinsights. The one I do prefer: « We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better. »
President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates.
The first thing I would like to say is ‘thank you.’ Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I have endured at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and convince myself that I am at the world’s largest Gryffindor reunion.
Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can’t remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, the law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.
You see? If all you remember in years to come is the ‘gay wizard’ joke, I’ve come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step to self improvement.
Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that have expired between that day and this.
I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.
These may seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.
Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.
I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension. I know that the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon anvil, now.
So they hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.
I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all the subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.
I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.
What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.
At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.
I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.
However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown.
Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.
Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.
So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.
The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity.Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.
So given a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement.Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.
Now you might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I personally will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working at the African research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London.
There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.
Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to speak against their governments. Visitors to our offices included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had left behind.
I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him back to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.
And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just had to give him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime, his mother had been seized and executed.
Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.
Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard, and read.
And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before.
Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.
Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.
Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.
And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.
I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.
What is more, those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.
One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.
That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.
But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people’s lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.
If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.
I am nearly finished. I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children’s godparents, the people to whom I’ve been able to turn in times of trouble, people who have been kind enough not to sue me when I took their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.
So today, I wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom: As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
I wish you all very good lives. Thank-you very much.