A cover letter is absolutely essential in finding the job you want. There’s no question about the fact that there will be plenty of people with a similar CV – you’d need similar levels of education and experience to apply for the same job. However, the cover letter is your chance to really make an impression. You can show your passion, enthusiasm, and even some of your personality in this letter. As you only really have this one chance at a first impression with most HR managers, it is important to stand out from the crowd and avoid the 8 mistakes listed below.
1. Looking Unprofessional
This means paying attention to font, using proper colours, and checking that your email address reflects your professional persona. If you have an immature email address, register for a new one and make sure that’s the one on your CV.
2. Failing to Use the Right Format
This is a letter, and so it should look like a letter, with an addressee, a return address, and a date. It shouldn’t look like you’ve printed an email, it should very obviously be in letter format, and addressed to the specific employer, with the name of the HR manager if you know it.
3. Not Sending a Plain Text Version of Your Letter
You might have some cool graphics, logos, or banners on your cover letter, but you do not know whether or not your employer is using an automatic resume scanner – at which point your fancy elements will become a jumbled mess. Keep things simple to ensure there’s no margin for technical error.
4. Not Paying Attention to Editing or Proofreading
When you’ve spent hours working on a cover letter, it’s easy to assume that your effort will have resulted in the perfect piece of writing. However, this is rarely the case, and many people submit their cover letters without properly proofreading, only to later spot mistakes and errors that look sloppy. You need to appear as competent as possible, and avoid any mistakes at such a crucial time. Fortunately, there are some online tools that can be a huge help when it comes to proofreading or editing your text.
- Ginger is a great app that improves your writing in a holistic way, by checking spelling, grammar, and even offering to translate or read aloud what you’ve written.
- Hemingway App is a tool that many writers rely on to strengthen their content and pick up on mistakes that a person might not notice.
- Readability Score monitors the level of your writing, which is essential if you’re applying for a high level position and want to be sure that your cover letter isn’t too simple,
- Paper Fellows helps with getting started, which is often the hardest part of writing. This is made easy with all of the advice and support available in the forums here.
5. Failing to Provide an Example for Everything
If you want to say that you have a skill on your cover letter, then you need to provide some sort of evidence to back up your claims. You can’t just ask an employer to believe you when you say you have skills, experience, or competencies – back this up with examples, experiences, or qualifications.
6. Including Filler Content
You may be worried that your letter isn’t long enough, and be tempted to pad it out with extra words and phrases and complicated sentences – this is a bad idea. A HR Manager doesn’t have time to try and find the good parts of your letter, they should be obvious.
7. Sending the Same Letter to Every Employer
It is imperative to get specific about each job if you want to stand a chance competing against other qualified applicants.
8. Be Clear
When applying online, make sure every file includes your full name, explain job titles, and make sure your email matches your name. Explain any lapses in time between work, and use a structure that is easy to follow.
Writing a cover letter is a stressful time, but avoiding the above mistakes can help boost your confidence and your chances of success.
Networking – The Best Way to Keep Learning on the Job
Like most comms professionals, I have a curiosity about learning. Be it about the latest craze on social media, or the newest news platform that I could try and get my organisation into.
I have been fairly diligent about keeping my skills set up-to-date. Regularly attending industry training courses, as well as embarking on a post-grad a few years back while juggling the demands of a busy role.
What’s struck me, however, is that the most profound learning comes from something far less slick than formal qualifications and training sessions, and that’s networking with our peers.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked across a number of sectors having moved from the arts, to education, to health, back to education, and then back to health – you get the theme – and now into the children’s sector now into the children’s sector where I work as Communications Manager at CELCIS (the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland).
With each move, I’ve managed to make connections with my counterparts at other organisations. By regularly keeping in touch with them, occasionally meeting up for a coffee, you can gain so much knowledge from each other by comparing notes, woes, and inspirations all in a oner. It really is cathartic. I would urge anyone to get to know their equivalent elsewhere, you never know when you might need them.
In the earlier stages of my career, I established a useful working relationship with a colleague at another institution. Given the supposed ‘rivalry’ between the institutions we worked for (I’m not naming names!) we had to use judgment and discretion when it came to information sharing. There was a real value to us being able to use each other as a sounding board for managing difficult media requests. On one funny occasion, we both spoke to each other mobile to mobile from our respective toilets!
Peer-to-peer learning comes in many forms and guises. An occasional and irregular meeting to talk shop, can lead to bigger plans for shared learning.
From Networking to Communities of Practice
I moved into a job promoting a brand new museum and gallery in central London some years back. Having attended a meeting on Southbank of arts PRs, I was vocal about the need to develop something a little more formal for us to keep abreast of what was happening in our tiny sector of comms professionals. What emerged from this was a working group of budding volunteers, and the establishment of a national conference where like-minded colleagues from throughout the country got together to learn from each other, and hear insights from those at the top of our industry.
What we didn’t realise at the time of its formation was that we really were a Community of Practice in the making (NB ‘Community of Practice’ is the slightly more academic/formal term for networking with peers.
New Year’s Resolution
One of my new year’s resolutions for 2018 is to help keep a network of comms professionals going in the children’s sector in Scotland. We are a varied bunch – from third sector organisations and campaign groups, to academic centres, NGOs and colleagues working in government – but we have much in common: our values as organisations; keeping our comms relevant to our intended audiences; and the need to embrace new and emerging technology.
Anyone wanting to know more, do be in touch.
Transformational Leadership in the Context of Social Work
Social work leadership has transformed into actual practice from research. While the primary definition of transformational leadership remains the same, researchers and experts believe its practical implications show more promising and better results – especially in the context of social work.
Leaders who work in close collaboration with their subordinates to achieve a common goal is what transformational leadership is all about. However, when it comes to its implications, a real transformational leader possesses specific behaviors and traits beyond that definition. He or she is someone who does not only work with the team but also motivates and inspires an organization to work towards a shared vision.
For a leader to do that, he or she must have the inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, body language, and individual consideration for the society as a whole. When it comes to social work, the vision does not only limit to the group members but people beyond that.
For all these reasons, transformation leadership remains an imperative factor for the success at individual, organizational, and societal levels.
Traits of Transformation Leadership That Are Important in Context of Social Work
Social work in itself is a transformed organization. The way social campaigns are led has changed substantially with regards to how leaders should act. The effort and contribution of transformational leaders help in creating a work environment where the team members are committed to what they are assigned. Leaders support interactions to ensure providing stability to the employees and other team members working in favor of the organization.
Here are the top transformational leadership traits that give social work its best form.
Development and Growth on an Individual Level
The best leadership traits are those that help an individual with self-actualization. Referring to the hierarchy of needs by Abraham Maslow, self-actualization stands at the top of the pyramid because it enables an individual to see beyond their self-interest and work in favor of the people around.
This helps transformational leaders to work selflessly with the values and vision of the team as a whole, including the society. It’s the growth factor that facilitates him/her for this moral development and principles.
Transformational leaders have subordinates and team members who perform beyond expectations. Research reveals that organizations, where transformational leaders are utilized, have better outcomes than planned.
The sense of trust and sustainability from the authority is a useful motivational factor that influences team members to outperform themselves every time. As a result, the overall performance of the organization and its contribution towards the shared vision also improves.
Organizational Change and Development
While transformational leadership has a clearly defined structure, it has an impact on every level of the organization. When it comes to team motivation, it helps the member become more inspiring, stimulating, and caring especially concerning their learning and working environment.
In short, it won’t be an exaggeration to state that transformational leadership has a ‘falling dominos effect’ on each department and the entire organization. While at authority level it helps with setting the vision and direction of the organization, at employee levels, it sets out the outlines for operations.
The phenomenon helps the company meet new challenges and perform better than expectations.
The Application is wider than Social Work
Society is and will always remain one of the most crucial areas where transformational leadership plays its role. However, the overall implication of the idea is much broader than that.
A variety of settings can benefit from the positive traits and behaviors of transformational leadership. Whether it is health care, nursing, education, or finance, the idea has proved more effective than any other form of leaderships. In addition to social work, it can also be applied to industrial and militaristic settings.
Since transformational leadership encourages the values of the people around, it plays a vital role in areas like social justice, equity, personal empowerment, self-knowledge, service, citizenship, and collaboration. This phenomenon can completely reshape the goals and how teams and organizations work and can also be used in conjunction with other leadership styles for better outcomes.
Abusive Bosses Experience Short-Lived Benefits
Being a jerk to your employees may actually improve your well-being, but only for a short while, suggests new research on abusive bosses co-authored by a Michigan State University business scholar.
Bullying and belittling employees starts to take its toll on a supervisor’s mental state after about a week, according to the study, which is published in the Academy of Management Journal.
“The moral of the story is that although abuse may be helpful and even mentally restorative for supervisors in the short-term, over the long haul it will come back to haunt them,” said Russell Johnson, MSU associate professor of management and an expert on workplace psychology.
While numerous studies have documented the negative effects of abusive supervision, some bosses nevertheless still act like jerks, meaning there must be some sort of benefit or reinforcement for them, Johnson said.
Indeed, the researchers found that supervisors who were abusive felt a sense of recovery because their boorish behavior helped replenish their mental energy and resources. Johnson said it requires mental effort to suppress abusive behavior – which can lead to mental fatigue – but supervisors who act on that impulse “save” the mental energy that would otherwise have been depleted by refraining from abuse.
Johnson and colleagues conducted multiple field and experiments on abusive bosses in the United States and China, verifying the results were not culture-specific. They collected daily survey data over a four-week period and studied workers and supervisors in a variety of industries including manufacturing, service and education.
The benefits of abusive supervision appeared to be short-lived, lasting a week or less. After that, abusive supervisors started to experience decreased trust, support and productivity from employees – and these are critical resources for the bosses’ recovery and engagement.
According to the study, although workers may not immediately confront their bosses following abusive behavior, over time they react in negative ways, such as engaging in counterproductive and aggressive behaviors and even quitting.
To prevent abusive behavior, the researchers suggest supervisors take well-timed breaks, reduce their workloads and communicate more with their employees. Communicating with workers may help supervisors by releasing negative emotions through sharing, receiving social support and gaining relational energy from their coworkers.
Co-authors are Xin Qin from Sun Yat-sen University, Mingpeng Huang from the University of International Business and Economics, Qiongjing Hu from Peking University and Dong Ju from Communication University of China.
Insult to Injury: U.S. Workers Without Paid Sick Leave Suffer from Mental Distress
Only seven states in the United States have mandatory paid sick leave laws; yet, fifteen states have passed preemptive legislation prohibiting localities from passing sick leave. Despite this resistance, paid sick leave is starting to gain momentum as a social justice issue with important implications for health and wellness. But what are the implications for the mental well-being of Americans without paid sick leave? Little was known about their relationship until now.
Researchers from Florida Atlantic University and Cleveland State University are the first to explore the link between psychological distress and paid sick leave among U.S. workers ages 18-64. Results of their study, published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, illuminate the effects of exacerbated stress on Americans without paid sick leave who are unable to care for themselves or their loved ones without fear of losing wages or their jobs.
The researchers found that workers without paid sick leave benefits reported a statistically significant higher level of psychological distress. They also are 1.45 times more likely to report that their distress symptoms interfere “a lot” with their daily life and activities compared to workers with paid sick leave. Those most vulnerable: young, Hispanic, low-income and poorly educated populations.
“Given the disproportionate access to paid sick leave based on race, ethnicity and income status, coupled with its relationship to health and mental health, paid sick leave must be viewed as a health disparity as well as a social justice issue,” said LeaAnne DeRigne, Ph.D., co-author of the study and an associate professor in the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work within FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry. “Even modest increases in psychological distress are noteworthy for both researchers and policy makers since we know that even small increases in stress can impact health.”
The study included 17,897 respondents from the National Health Interview Survey(NHIS), administered by the U.S. government since 1957 to examine a nationally representative sample of U.S. households about health and sociodemographic variables.
“For many Americans, daily life itself can be a source of stress as they struggle to manage numerous responsibilities including health related issues,” said Patricia Stoddard-Dare, Ph.D., lead author of the study and associate professor of social work at Cleveland State University. “Making matters worse, for those who lack paid sick leave, a day away from work can mean lost wages or even fear of losing one’s job. These stressors combined with other sources of stress have the potential to interfere with workplace performance and impact overall mental health.”
The researchers used the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6), considered the gold standard for assessing psychological distress in population-based samples in the U.S. and internationally. With a theoretical range of 0 to 24, higher scores on the K6 represent increased psychological distress and scores above 13 are correlated with having a mental disorder of some type.
Results from the study showed that those with paid sick leave had a lower mean distress score compared to those without paid sick leave, who had significantly higher K6 scores, indicating a higher level of psychological distress. Only 1.4 percent of those with paid sick leave had a K6 score above 12 compared to 3.1 percent of the respondents without paid sick leave.
The most significant control variables indicated an increase in the expected psychological distress score among those who were younger, female, in fair or poor personal health, had at least one chronic health condition, were current smokers or did not average the recommended range of seven to nine hours of sleep per day.
Approximately 40 percent of respondents in the NHIS sample did not have paid sick leave; approximately half of the respondents were female; more than half were married or cohabitating; three-quarters indicated that their highest level of education included at least some college; and 62 percent were non-Hispanic white. The mean age was 41.2 years. Most of the respondents (79.1 percent) worked full-time and 82.7 percent had health insurance coverage. Respondents were in families with a mean size of 2.6 persons and 39.3 percent reported having children in the family. Approximately 32 percent had an annual family income of $35,000 to $50,000, and more than one quarter were below the poverty threshold.
DeRigne and Stoddard-Dare caution that even though there is concern about the potential burden on employers if paid sick leave laws are passed, it is important to be mindful of the overall situation regarding productivity loss and workplace costs associated with mental health symptoms and psychological concerns among U.S. workers. Furthermore, the personal health care consequences of delaying or forgoing needed medical care can lead to more complicated and expensive health conditions. U.S. workers with paid sick leave are more likely to take time off work and self-quarantine when necessary, without the worries of losing their job or income while also not spreading illness to others.
“Results from our research will help employers as they think about strategies to reduce psychological stress in their employees such as implementing or expanding access to paid sick days,” said Stoddard-Dare. “Clinicians also can use these findings to help their patients and clients as can legislators who are actively evaluating the value of mandating paid sick leave.”
Increasing Workplace Diversity: The Glass Escalator Phenomenon in Female Dominated Professions
Many assume that most workplaces are meritocracies where effort is rewarded by advancement and success. But as companies in the United States strive to accommodate greater racial and ethnic diversity, this premise has proved questionable for women and non-white men.
Broadly-designed efforts to incorporate black workers into positions where they are underrepresented, particularly in professional or managerial jobs, have been largely unsuccessful. Relatively few black people have attained high-status positions in the medical, legal, and scientific and engineering fields; and racial gaps persist for highly-educated blacks in white collar and professional positions.
To support the advancement of black workers in white-collar occupations, researchers and managers need to understand how implicit behavioral biases can sideline black careers. My research deals with these issues in various kinds of job settings.
Various jobs come with unspoken emotional requirements, rarely codified, that hold workers accountable for creating feelings in themselves or others. For instance, customer service workers are expected to make clients feel respected and valued. Flight attendants must remain calm even when interacting with unruly passengers. Such emotional requirements mean additional labor for workers of all races, yet black professionals in predominantly white environments must also deal with racial dynamics that further complicate this work.
Both inside and outside of the workplace, the implicit emotional rules that black professionals must meet – often, they say, at great cost – are quite different from those applied to their white colleagues. Black professionals are expected to express emotions of pleasantness and kindness constantly, even in the face of racial hostility.
Diversity trainings require them to conceal feelings of frustration even when colleagues express racial biases. Black men in particular report a prohibition on any expression of anger, even in jobs where anger is accepted or encouraged from others. Black women, in contrast, deploy anger strategically as a means to be taken more seriously at work.
Black Men in Female-Dominated Fields
Such gender differences are not limited to emotional performance and even prevail in occupations where men are in the minority. Research shows that white men working in culturally feminized fields – nursing, social work, and teaching – are privileged by the “glass escalator” phenomenon, in which they are afforded advantages and advancement unavailable to colleagues who are women or non-white males.
For example, white men are generally supported by male authority figures, encouraged to pursue administrative or supervisory positions, and enjoy a positive reception from female colleagues who welcome men into “their” professions. But the same advantages do not extend to black men in traditionally female jobs. Black men in these fields experience social isolation from those who might support their climb up the career ladder. Any “glass escalator” that may exist for white men in female-dominated jobs is largely out of service for black men.
Black Men in Male-Dominated Fields
Black men in culturally-masculinized occupations — lawyers, doctors, financial analysts, engineers – are uniquely positioned. In workplaces like this, majority and minority racial and gender statuses inform how black men are expected to present themselves and interact with colleagues. Specifically, black men’s minority status keeps them from fully integrating into their jobs, even as their gender status gives them advantages over their women counterparts.
As the racial minority, black men often empathize with the ways women are treated and use their gendered privileges to advocate for gender-equitable workplace policies. At the same time, black men report wanting closer relationships with other black professional men, but are uncomfortable engaging in the socially stereotyped feminine behaviors that are necessary to achieve this– such as initiating contact, staying in communication, checking up on one another.
Similarly, the black men are reluctant to express or reveal a need for social support, because men are culturally expected to “go it alone.” As a result, black men in white-collar occupations often remain quite isolated at work.
Although black men may be able to bond with white men over “guy things,” they lack access to critical social networks (to elite white friends, neighbors, and acquaintances) that can provide boosts up the corporate ladder. Racial and gendered stereotypes often also force black professionals to develop and maintain alternative types of black masculinity.
Bottom Lines for Employers, Organizations, and Policymakers
Workers of color face numerous challenges in the workplace that differ greatly depending on the field, profession, and specific office setting. The challenges faced by black men and black women are not identical, even in the same work environments. And specific work settings matter, too, because black men in the medical field, for instance, face distinct challenges from those practicing law.
Because one-size-fits-all approaches and generalized diversity policies will not effectively address the specific challenges facing workers of color, organizations, and offices must try to understand how racial and gender dynamics play out in their specific fields and workplaces. Only with such understanding can a workplace succeed at becoming more attractive, accepting, and comfortable for diverse employees.
How to begin? A workplace could start by soliciting buy-in from professional black men, who may have been overlooked in previous efforts to foster equal acceptance. Employers can tie diversity outcomes to concrete rewards for managers and workers. And because black professionals are often required to leave their racial identity at the door – under the dubious rationale that it will reduce race-related stress – perhaps the most important step is to openly acknowledge that racial issues impact workers’ lives.
Find out what the issues are for each workplace and its employees – and then tailor solutions to real-life experiences. Overall, this is important work for employers. As the U.S. workforce continues to diversify, workplaces must be creating acceptance and support from the ground up in order to remain competitive.
Social Work Degree: To Be or Not To Be
There are many benefits of being a social worker, and this article is going to focus on how and why you should get your social work degree. Start looking at social work personal statements examples and get a feel for what is expected early. You will also be able to measure your own enthusiasm versus that of the author. The personal statement for social workers is the most important part of your application because this is where you can shine outside of your academic results. It is a reflection of who you are. Let’s get into it and see how and why you should consider a career as a social worker.
The social work degree is going to be a lot of work and you might have to start learning how to manage your time properly. Your social work personal statement will be the first challenge and after that it is going to be a daily challenge. This is great in life in general and when you start working in your career at a later stage, it will also come in handy. There are things we learn that might not directly link to studying, but more add to your life skills.
Being able to research any topic is going to help you a lot with your degree. There will be different topics discussed and it is important that you do your best. If you have researching skills, you are going to be able to take on any topic and cover it as far as possible. This is going to serve you well in your career going forward because as a social worker you will have daily challenges and some if it might be foreign to you. This is where your research skills come in and you are able to do well as a social worker.
Manage your finances
Studying for any degree costs an arm and a leg to say the least. Many students are on a strict budget because of paying for school fees, textbooks and living expenses. If you want to have a pleasant experience, you are going to have to learn to manage your money properly. There will come a time when you can spend some more money, but for now it’s about living a minimalistic lifestyle. Another normal thing for students to do is to find a part-time job. You can take up waitressing or any interesting part-time jobs in your area. Just make sure that you have the time and that it does not conflict with your school times.
Your life is not yours
Before you decide to become a social worker, be sure to look into the life of a social worker. It is no party and many social workers work long hours and sacrifice their personal time for those of the people the work with. You also need to be emotionally prepared for some of the difficult cases you will be faced with. Are you ready for all of that? If not, it may be time to reconsider. Be 100% sure that your motives behind this is right and you should be good.
If you are passionate about doing this with your life, you are going to make a great social worker. There are no short cuts because you are working with others and this is important. Working with other people is what this job is about. You will be required to find a solution to others problems. There will be days when you feel like you are carrying everyone else’s problems on your shoulders, but you have to be able to do it from a place of love.
Being a social worker is a great thing and you can achieve this goal if it is what you want. There is no reason as to why you cannot complete your degree. Hard work and dedication will take you far in life and by giving this studies your all, you will soon be one of the best social workers out there. Be precise in your studies and take away as much as you can from this experience. Visualize your life as a social worker and before you know it your dreams would be realised. During your studies, try and find some time to enjoy the process. Yes, you will work long hours, but there is also satisfaction that comes from it because you are helping other live a better life.
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