Creative Cover Letters Entice Your Reader

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I decided from my last blog (so many choices!) to write about me looking for temporary work….

Last year, I applied for a temporary part-time academic counselor position at DMACC. The position was focused on young “at-risk” students. I share my cover letter (which wanted the applicant to address certain characteristics or skills in the cover letter). I added side comments and graphics to illustrate!:

November 25, 2014

DMACC Human Resources

2006 S. Ankeny Blvd., Building 1

Ankeny, IA 50023-8995

ATTN: Susan Bernard smbernard@dmacc.edu or 515-964-6487

Dear Susan:

I am hopeful my master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling will be put to good use at DMACC as the college’s newest part-time temporary career counselor. I am a DMACC graduate and if it weren’t for my experiences with many of the college’s instructors (for special reasons I recall Robin Orr; and many other great teachers!), and the time in class I spent learning on the Ankeny and Urban campus, I would have never gone on to get a bachelors, let alone a master’s degree!

HSDOI had the lovely label “high school dropout”

As a person with a colorful educational background, including being labeled a “high school dropout” I fully acknowledge the importance of a great community college. I value DMACC highly. This is where I found how much I love to learn, and better yet, I found out I wasn’t so dumb after all!

Happiness is Finding Out

 “Happiness is finding out you’re not so dumb after all.”

I love to help others, and people absorb information if it is presented in a number of different ways, in one sitting, or through several meetings and follow-through activities. My experience also tells me that as the “teacher” such knowledge has to be facilitated in a holistic manner, encompassing what the learner has offered about their background.

I’ve delivered presentations to many audiences, including youth at church, high school age learners, adults (colleagues, clients or potential customers), health-educational programs (smoking cessation, CPR/First Aid), including an entire room full of attorneys (for their continuing legal education needs). I see presentations as a way for me to become a better counselor. I re-learn the topic for the presentation, gather updated information, and focus on how to present in a creative way that makes sense for my audience.

The timing for your needs and the interest in this opportunity is coming at a great time for me. As this counselor position is temporary and part-time, it works well with my current work load as a self-employed person. I hope you read the answers to the supplemental questions I prepared for more information on the required and desirable qualifications you seek.

DiversityI believe diversity surrounds us, and without embracing this limitless concept we’d all be boring! I however do not know a second language, although I do know and utilize methods for taking notes, including Gregg shorthand and medical terminology shorthand, all in order to gather and absorb valuable data.

Thank you Susan. You can reach me at 515-282-7753 or vocresources@gmail.com. Please feel free to look at my LinkedIn page, and connect with me for more information. I also blog and maintain my own website at www.lcpresourcesplus.com  You can find a lot about me on these two platforms. Or better yet, call me soon and we can interview!

Sincerely,

Amy E. Botkin

BTW, I’ve followed up on my application with Susan four times since, and haven’t heard back….but I am persistent and I want to know the status of the application. I’ll keep trying…however now the timing may not be so perfect for me!

Image result for time cartoon

Timing is Everything!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

A Success Story About A Veteran I Was Proud To Help

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Following through with my last post on honesty, here’s the success story I mentioned:

During the placement process, I assess the client on his or her take of honesty at work using interview techniques, a self-report scale, and ensuing discussion. I’ve heard great stories.  I remember one client, a veteran I helped ~10 years ago when I had a contract to provide vocational services to VA Voc Rehab. The veteran (served in Nam) wanted a more suited job using his many transferable skills.

One day, while he was at work cleaning the men’s restroom at the I35 rest area near Osceola, the veteran found a wallet filled with cash. He called his supervisor who drove to the rest areas to retrieve the wallet, and it was returned to it’s owner.

Lost Wallet, Honest Worker

What makes this story even more honest is the veteran was being paid ~$6.00 an hour to clean the rest area (all areas and facilities inside and outside). The wallet he found was filled with enough money to have paid his wages for nearly 2½ weeks of work (cleaning disgusting toilets, working out in the cold, being treated like poopy by people who just want to get in and get out…) And he returned it all. All.

References are Golden Nuggets!

To help with placement to a better job for the veteran, the supervisor, following my request and with my help wrote a superb reference letter. The letter helped with the success of this veteran securing his new job. He was hired at Homemakers Furniture where he made use of his transferable skills (one was leather upholstery) and excellent work references along with the help of the VA’s hiring incentive program.  Nice work! I love this success story!

Back to me for a bit. A story of mine about honesty ranks up there too and simply put, that’s what a morally and ethically sound person does! I’ve returned found cell phones, various personal items, coats, neighbor’s mail, and money. Yes, money, in fact thousands of dollars.

Find cash on the sidewalk down the street! Get shortchanged? Too much change? Overpaid? Underpaid? What do you do?! A money dilemma!

Okay, here’s why I’ve literally returned thousands of dollars. As an independent contractor I more often than should happen experience  a long, long wait to get paid for my work. Not fun and not fair.  In fact, not that long ago I waited months to get paid, and then I received three checks in three separate envelopes for one invoice. Of course I returned the duplicate checks!

check

It literally added up to over $6,000!

Since 1999 when I started my business, I’ve been overpaid probably about six times. I couldn’t tell you why, but I return the checks…and pay postage doing so. And since 1999 I’ve been NOT paid once. I still remember it. It was for my hard work performed on a complex case. My final invoice totaled ~$500 and for some horrible reason the insurance company didn’t pay me. Ironic the [workers’ comp] case ended up being a NON permanent total disability. Needless to say, I won’t accept assignments from that representative any longer. Okay, I’ll stop…but could write a lot about unethical people!

I’ve written papers on my work and ethics. Please visit my LinkedIn Page to read the papers or call me at 515-282-7753 and I’ll send you copies.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

Be Honest, Save A Purse!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Recently, I freaked out…..the adrenalin spiked quickly the moment I fully realized it was gone. This was a wild mind body stressful experience!  You know what I mean (I hope, if not, and you don’t carry a purse, well, read no further..!) Ever lost your wallet? Anything realllly important?

You look everywhere, and then your brain remembers. I made a call. Yes! Gateway Market Café found a black purse. Four hours earlier, we had been out and about….in the bitter cold….and stopped to get some soup, sat down to wait, but then decided to change the food order to go. Guess who left something important behind?

Good Thing It's Not a Coach!
Good Thing It’s Not a Coach!

Good Thing It’s Not a Coach!

Bottom line for this blog besides keeping track of your things is that I truly believe people want to be honest. A pleasant employee of Gateway Market (I love the place!) answered the phone after only a couple rings, and after confirming and racing back, the nice guy with the long pony was quick to return it to me. Silly me [bonk self on side of head, harder….] But Whewwwwwww.

I did the same thing a few days earlier at the Botanical Gardens…left my purse at the top of the steps overlooking the beauty of the conservatory. There’s a better reason for my forgetfulness that time and it has to do with the excitement during this picture.

2014-12-27 14
2014-12-27 14

Part of My Fam! Randy, me, ArinJune, Nick, Taylor, and Derek! 

I ran right back up the steps to retrieve it…..and it was gone! OMG.  I ran back down the stairs (thank goodness I do step aerobics!) and searched for my family, who had gone on to view more beautiful plants.

There she was, the woman with the two little girls who had taken the pictures from my phone. Ahh, there’s the fam too, and one of my lovely children had my phone. Phone and purse saved! Geez, don’t mess with a 51 year old!

Saving what you found and returning it to its rightful owners is right. Be Honest. It’s also a good idea to play more Lumosity brain training games!?!

During a vocational evaluation to help with the placement process, I assess the individual on his or her take of honesty at work. Stay tuned for a sharing success story about job placement!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

 

Congratulations to my Beautiful Daughter….She Starts a New Job Today!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As I mentioned in last week’s post, Arin was in interviewing mode. She found success! Today she starts her training at the Des Moines Public Library. My daughter, a librarian aide! I love it. She is so excited! It’s a part-time position, which the library does for all aides, that pays pretty good! She will continue at Walgreen’s as well, so will be working plenty of hours. Do you remember what job(s) you had at age 18? Click here for my earlier work history.

AJ the L

Arin the Aide To the Rescue!

I have blogged about Arin in the past and my grandma’s love for reading. Reading helps in lots of ways; one being that your vocabulary will become larger and more sophisticated. I remember one of my professors at Drake University (Dr. Bob Stensrud!) said something along the lines that a strong vocabulary is a sign of high intelligence. I’m sure there’s plenty of variances on that statement from people much smarter than me, but I agree that intelligence drives the need to acquire the vocabulary in the first place.

On Saturday, Randy and I took a road trip. When we realized from listening on the radio that the Cyclones just might win, we decided we needed to watch the second half! We found a nice place in Oxford, Iowa and stopped on in. There were some buddies hanging out at the bar and one was kinda making me sick. He was a “chain swearer”. You’ve heard one. F this and F that in almost every sentence. And when watching college football on a big screen tv, you can imagine what I heard. Yuck!  I will admit I heard myself say “Poopy” over and over towards the end of the ISU game….

I thought hummmm is my theory that people who swear excessively have low vocabulary levels and corresponding low intelligence? I don’t know, but there are studies out there I’m sure. I do pay attention when interviewing evaluees about their use of profanity and will report on it (while also offering counseling “advice”) as it certainly affects one’s view of professionalism in the workplace.

Profanity BoyPeople Swear, and Unfortunately I Am One of Em

But I don’t want to and I do notice it when I swear and chastise myself! And I try to stop hubby too. And Arin. And Jake. And Nick….and on and on! When my mom swears (not often) I sure take note! Woah!

I cringe when I hear a person swear in professional environments (and on the playing field…and  especially in front of children). I certainly hope Arin doesn’t let a big “F-bomb” out when she is at work at the DMPL (frown upon for sure!) She won’t! [I’m making her read this post…]

Back to the point of this blog and successful interviewing. The keys to a successful interview are preparation and practice. Let me know how I could help and download this tip sheet titled on Interviewing.

P.S. Don’t swear during an interview! Use the best communication skills you have!

P.S.S. My grandma Jean’s favorite “bad” word was “Horrors!”

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

Never Underestimate the Power of Volunteering!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I want to reflect upon my volunteering experience … and engage you in thinking of your own. Does volunteering pique a developing interest? What specifically do you, or have you done to volunteer? Did the time fly when you were engaging in the experience? What were you responsible for in the role?

Even if it’s low key, your contribution and what you gain from any volunteering experience is of value.

Job Placement Network

For three years, back in 2006 – 2008, I chaired the Job Placement Network group. So, my interest was (and remains so) networking! My role to serve as the leader of this diverse group of community service providers offered me the opportunity to expand upon my existing skill set.

I tasked myself to administrate to the non-profit’s mission, organize meetings, market to employers, design and deliver materials and resources, recruit members, communicate ideas and detailed information, and most importantly network, network, network! And have fun!

Your network can grow as much as your mind can think. And there is no limit to your thoughts!

Currently, the networking group has not been engaged, although I’m sure hopeful in the future with new leadership, JPN can really make a splash in the future of our community!

Here’s a quick slide show about JPN designed in 2008.

If you are interested, (how about you, you wonderful Drake student?) please contact me for more information.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

 

 

 

Whistle While You Work…or Grunt and Groan!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

It really does help to make noise while you’re working. I often work in complete silence. But when I whistle or listen to music, it does seem as though the work goes more smoothly. I have no idea why. I guess the Dwarfs did.

Maybe the sound helps distract the mind from trying too hard and prevents mental overload.

As I’ve written about in the past, mom and dad raised 5 kids. Us children are all only 13-15 months apart. Think about how much hard work Ann & Dick had in order to get us all out of the nest!

Here’s a great little YouTube Video of what it may have been like from the 5 babies viewpoint! The momma bird is hard at work and the song Whistle While Your Work is playing to help her!

Thanks for feeding us! 

 I completed my second week of boot camp (six more weeks to go …) and will say Linda Ross, our trainer is an excellent coach and instructor. She encourages us to do our best and to MAKE A LOT of NOISE when we exercise.

 It helps when you grunt and groan while you work out!

As I continue my journey in life, I find how important it is to work hard at whatever is at hand. Life isn’t easy. Whether it is mentally or physically, there is always more to learn and to improve upon. So, make noise! Be alive! Whistle, grunt and groan at work!

Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better.”
― Jim Rohn

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce.

March is Women’s History Month…Thanks Good Boys!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

March is Women’s History Month. The theme this year is women in science, mathematics, technology and engineering.  My husband thinks he is his school historian, so here’s his take….and my additions.

It took women more than 72 years of arduous struggle to win the vote (called woman suffrage) from the Seneca Falls Convention on women’s rights, held in 1848, to the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920.

Seneca Falls Women!

Victory was never assured until the final moment, when Tennessee became the last state to ratify the amendment ~ by a single vote! In the intervening years, the drive for women’s voting rights encompassed the lives of several generations of women.

A man in Tennessee and women from all over

It appeared that the amendment might fail by one vote in the Tennessee house, but twenty-four-year-old Harry Burns surprised observers by casting the deciding vote for ratification. At the time of his vote, Burns had in his pocket a letter he had received from his mother urging him, “Don’t forget to be a good boy” and “vote for suffrage.”  

Signed, Your Mother

So thank you Harry and Randy for our vote and for this blog. You are both good boys! Randy, I hope your students enjoy learning more. Keep me posted on your subjects for the class you are teaching. Very interesting!

BTW, do you or your mother excel in science, mathematics, technology or engineering? Or your daughter? Does she? Even if they have just an interest in these areas, encourage the women in your life to learn more.

My daughter Arin is taking precalculus

Arin was chosen to participate in the Career Advantage program between her high school and Des Moines Area Community College. She’s taking a precalculus course. What’s even better, she gets 5.00 CEUs of college credit, and she’s “only” a high school junior!

You go Sweetie!

And thank you  Carrie Chapman Catt – one of Iowa State’s most distinguished alumni. I need to remember to thank you each time I cast a ballot. Here’s a link for more information on Mrs. Catt.

Carrie Chapman Catt Center

The  Cat Center at ISU

For a great resource on women in history, visit the Plaza  of Heroines 

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce.

Interview Motivation & My Daughter The Hulk!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Original Post dated: 11-2-2012

In this week’s writing, I’m enhancing my blog from last week about job interviewing  and encourage you, if you are seeking a job, to study certain traits to create a positive image during an interview (or for any type of communication with a human)!

But first, I want to congratulate my daughter Arin for landing a new job. She clearly presented herself and interviewed well! She starts tomorrow, after school, at Walgreens.

You’ll find Arin working in the cosmetics department!

It is true the key to landing a job is how well you present yourself during an interview. But did you also know there are secrets to getting jazzed about the interview? I found a nice article on the internet titled Job Interview Motivation. It lists five secrets to help you get motivated. In summary, they are:

1. The interviewer might be as nervous as you are.

2. The interviewer has more to do than you do.

3. Find a way to keep the negative thoughts out.

4. Realize you are only human.

5. Get outside help.

Click here for the entire article titled Job Interview Motivation. It is really good and will really help you! I added a bit to it, so please take some time and read it!

Using outside tools and techniques for job interview motivation can really help. Realize that many times nervousness comes from being selfish. I know that sounds a little crazy but typically we get ourselves all jazzed up about something because we are worried about how we are going to look or how we are going to act.

Those are selfish thoughts. Work on the selfishness you might have inside and watch your nervousness go away! I love to help people prepare for an interview. Placement is my specialty! If you have a client, or need help with interviewing, please let me know how I might assist.

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

 

 

Your Presence is Key to Landing a Job….It Ripples!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The key to landing a job is how well you present yourself during the interview.

Study these traits to create a positive image! 

Presence ~ Your first impression is very important. In fact, it ripples through the entire interview. Do what you can to create a positive presence through manners, wearing the appropriate clothing to the interview, making sure you’re well-groomed and having a relaxed, confident manner.

Ability to communicate ~ How well do you communicate to the interviewer? Can you communicate your ideas clearly at the level the position requires? Your interviewer will generally assess both content and delivery of communication.

Motivation ~ Do you have a positive, enthusiastic approach? Do you sound and look confident that you can handle the job?

Intelligence ~ Your answers to questions, your questions to the interviewer and your demonstration of creative and imaginative capabilities will all be considered by the hiring person.

Energy levels and general alertness ~ These motivational forces underlie the other four traits listed here. These traits are not as easily measured as skills, education or experience levels, but they do play an increasingly important role in how you present yourself to the interviewer.

 Click here for a copy of what’s above.

I love to help people prepare for an upcoming interview. Pretend it’s a game, and you are the Star of the Show! Stay tuned for interviewing like a Star!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce.

Observation Skills and Body Language – Where’s Waldo?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Observation skills are important in my work as a counselor. Observation skills incorporate visual analysis, memory, concentration and the ability to pay attention to detail and to notice visual signals like body language.

When’s the last time you checked out Where’s Waldo?

In counseling, body language is used to help build rapport. It helps to observe the client’s/customer’s body movements and match or mirror them in an appropriate way. This can improve communication and  can help people feel more comfortable being around you. It’s true that people seem to gravitate towards people who are most like themselves (I find that boring though.)

ZeBra

I observe people’s body language a lot and can notice when a person is in discomfort, is lying/not being truthful, or is hiding something.  If there’s conflict between what comes out of their mouth and what is being said by the body, this could indicate they are having a difficult time verbalizing something. I encourage the person to explore their feelings and try to reconnect their mind and body.

Looky

Take a Long Look!

It’s not unusual when counseling for the client to  break down and cry…which calls for some serious quiet time.  This offers an opportunity for the person to be still.  This silence is the calm and a much needed break. The person will resume a conversation when they are ready. Body language speaks loudly without pretense. Body language is often more important than the spoken word which can be done quite softly. Body language doesn’t lie.

I’m off to meet my step aerobics buddies for a night out (originally posted June 4, 2012 ).  I’ve had a couple of weeks of not doing aerobics so it’s time to see my buddies in real clothing, and eat a nice meal with them!  However, I have been going to a fitness boot camp! What’ve you been doing for exercise lately?

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.