Category Archives: One Thing To Do Today

The crazy-easy way to start a gratitude journal – and some ideas on what to say

After talking about the benefits of gratitude journals last week, I promised I’d share my favorite online gratitude journal. Soooo, drumroll please:

Why I love it

  1. It is dead simple. It’s so simple, I don’t have to remember to use it. Happy Rambles sends me an email with the subject line, “What are you grateful for today?” I just reply with my answer, and away it goes, stored in my private account on their site.
  2. It’s a blast from the past. In addition to asking me what I’m grateful for, the email also includes a past entry and asks, “How good was this?”
  3. It’s consistent. Every night at 8 p.m., I know that little email will show up in my box, and it makes me take just a few minutes and think about the good things in my day.

How it works for me

You can reply in most any form — paragraphs, bullets, photos, even incoherent sentences if that’s your thing. It’s easier and less daunting for me to write three things in a simple numbered list, so that’s what I do. It usually takes anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes.

It’s okay to focus on the small things

When I started out, I thought I might run out of things to say; being grateful for friends and family every night would get boring in a hurry.

But I quickly figured out that it’s more fun to focus on the small random things that make you smile or laugh. Here are just a few examples of quirky little things from my journal:

  • The yard guy who stops to pick up wind-blown trashcans
  • Fall moon on a periwinkle backdrop
  • Frozen strawberries
  • Getting a compliment on my new sweater
  • Negotiating with Time Warner
  • New sidewalk from my office to Rite Aid
  • Fresh, delicious, yummy-smelling bagels
  • New laptop battery

Bonus idea for job seekers

Use your gratitude journal as a way to record progress in your search. Make it a goal to have one positive piece of job-search news to report each night. It doesn’t have to be big. Maybe you found a new company to research, made a new contact, had a great conversation, figured out a new way to frame your skills, or got a target company to retweet something you said.

So, what are you waiting for? Pop over to Happy Rambles and get your own journal!

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In honor of Thanksgiving: Benefits of a gratitude journal for job seekers

gratitude

What better time than Thanksgiving Eve to talk about gratitude journals? If you’re here, some of you might be thinking, “Um, I don’t have a job, and you want me to say thank you?”

That’s really the point. When you’re job searching, it’s easy to focus on the negative things — the resume you sent that didn’t get a response, the interview question you flubbed, the networking meeting you couldn’t get. A gratitude journal forces you to focus on the wins, however big or small, related or unrelated to your job search.

BTW, a gratitude journal can be as simple or complex as you want. It can be on paper or online. It can be in paragraphs or in bullet points.  Next week, I’ll show you my favorite online gratitude journal. It’s super easy, and it’s free.

Mmk, so, specifically, what are the benefits?

People who keep gratitude journals…

  1. Are more likely to make progress toward goals.
  2. Sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed.
  3. Are less stressed out by everyday hassles.
  4. Do more exercise.
  5. Are more optimistic about their future.

Are you convinced yet? You’ll have more energy to put into your job search, you won’t be as discouraged by little things that go wrong, and you’ll feel more confident about your chances of success. It’s a win-win-win.

So let’s get the ball rolling. Leave a comment with something you’re grateful for, career related or otherwise.

I’ll start — it’s November 23, and it’s almost 70 degrees outside. And I’m grateful that of everything you could be doing, reading and thinking, you’re spending some time here. Thanks, it means a lot.

One thing: Create a Google profile

So you’ve Googled yourself recently and nothing relevant came up. Well, congratulations on at least having a clean slate. You’re not mistakenly associated with any criminals or adult actors, so you don’t have any battles to fight, just a solid presence to build. Google recently created a new tool to help you do that: the Google profile.

It takes less than 10 minutes to set up, and it gives you an entry on page one of “your name” search results (even if it is at the very bottom of the screen).

It’s similar to LinkedIn. You have a headline, a summary, a list of your interests and link to your various Web sites. (You can actually copy and paste sections of your LinkedIn profile, which is what I did.) You can’t, however, list work experiences or network through the site. It’s really just an identity claim and a Google entry. Nevertheless, take 10 minutes and give yourself your first or another Google entry — set up a Google profile today.

Note: You’ll need a Gmail address, but you should have one of those anyway.

One thing: Check out LinkedIn’s blog

This week is “Seek Week” on LinkedIn’s blog. That means they’re posting a series of articles written by LinkedIn users to help recent grads. Some of articles tell you how to use LinkedIn for your job search, but others talk generally about job searching challenges and solutions. One of today’s, for example, is “Add more oomph to your job search!“. Check it out!

(And kudos to LinkedIn for helping grads, driving users to their product and getting good PR at the same time!)

One thing: Create an electronic resume

If you’ve ever tried to paste your resume into the body of an e-mail (especially in plain text formats like Webmail) you know your formatting — bold, italics, even bullets — don’t work. The trick to e-mailing with ease is to create an electronic resume in plain text (the file extension .txt) or rich text format (.rtf). Both allow you to send your information to employers without formatting errors.

This article from the Lawrence University Career Center (all kinds of helpful career resources on this site) explains how to create both formats. It’s definitely worth reading, and it’s also worth creating an electronic resume. Do it today!

Side tip: The Lawrence University Career Center is also on Twitter, tweeting useful information and articles about resumes, job searching, interviewing — anything and everything career related.

One thing: Upload your resume to UCS’s website

Putting your resume in UCS’s system lets you do a couple of things:

  1. It makes your resume available to employers who want to trawl through the database of student resumes. (Kind of like Monster.com, except these employers are looking specifically for Carolina students.)
  2. If you want to apply to a job through the UCS system, you have a resume ready to go. It’s an easy one-click process to send it to the employer.

Uploading your resume is simple, assuming you already have a version on-hand. You sign into the UCS Web site from this page then click “Resumes and Cover Letters” in the top menu. From there, select “+Add New” at the bottom.

After the upload is complete, your file will be in limbo until someone at UCS has a chance to review it. When I uploaded mine, I think it took less than 48 hours for someone to look it over and send me an e-mail back. Once you get a confirmation message, your resume is in their system, available to employers and for use in your applications.

Side note: You can also upload cover letters.

Edit: Thanks to Gary Miller at UCS (see the comments) for pointing out that employers can’t see all the resumes. UCS will, however, forward uploaded resumes to employers based on employer-specified criteria. Students have to allow the information to be released, so make sure you’ve allowed for that!

Sending a post-Career Fair thank you

According to the UCS Career Fair document, we should send thank-you notes to each representative we met at the fair. A personal letter sets you apart from the many other people who were at the fair.

Should your personal letter be handwritten or e-mailed? Here’s my take: if you really liked the company and would like to work there, follow-up today with an e-mail and get a handwritten note in the mail before the week is out. If the company was so-so and you don’t see yourself there, send a quick e-mail note, just to keep the relationship going.

If you’re like me, you stress over what to write in a thank-you note. You think back through the conversation trying to pull out an example or a comment to reference. You worry over wording. (Or maybe that’s just me.) In any event, here and here are a few sample thank-you notes I found. They’re specifically for thanking people you met at career fairs.

The second page has some of the best correspondence samples I’ve seen. The career-fair thank yous are at the bottom under “Job Fair correspondence,” but the page also has application letters for jobs and grad school, letters of inquiry and other forms of thank yous. Bookmark this site!

This article explains what the letter should accomplish — basically a statement of gratitude that restates some of your best attributes and says you’re interested in future possibilities. If you’re not interested in a working for the company, lay off reminding them about your skills. Just say it was nice to meet the person, and you look forward to staying in touch.