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3 Ways to Feel More Fulfilled in Business

3 Ways to Feel More Fulfilled in Business


    A few nights ago, my husband handed me a book he thought I might be interested in reading. It was a book that even just three years ago, I would’ve loved to dig into. An autobiography of one of the great businessmen of this century, a look into how the greats got it done.

    Who would ever want to pass that up?

    Well, I passed it up in a heartbeat.

    A couple of years ago, I read a couple of those biographical business books, and I loved them all. Learning the business lingo was exhilarating, but the best part was always learning about the person’s personal life.

    Wow, they had a childhood, too! They really started as a janitor? They struggled as common-folk?

    It was all very enlightening — it even made me feel like I had a chance at doing something great in this world. If they could do it, why couldn’t I?

    Except I always was sorely disappointed when the details of the same great businessmen’s personal lives turned more shoddy than I expected. Divorces, cheating, inflated egos, ridiculous promo sponsorships, and more.

    As my husband handed me the book, I read the front cover.

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    I turned to him and said,

    “Isn’t it awesome that businesspeople nowadays are programmed differently? They’re following passion, not necessarily a quick buck. Maybe it’s their purpose that has made them inherently better people? Maybe its more transparency in a digital world?”

    I handed the book right back. It’s great to learn from the greats and our elders, but for some reason, I’ve decided to spend more time learning how its done now — by people who have made it in this new world of users over money.

    Leaders have changed. No matter the reason, it is awesome.

    Maybe you agree with me or not. Maybe you know some really money-hungry businesspeople.

    I think we all know that kind of person. The great thing is — we don’t want to be like them.

    I actually believe that. And there may be absolutely no hard evidence to prove that purpose-driven business people today are better human beings than the fortune-seekers of yore, but I believe it.

    I believe it because I’m living it.

    I know a lot of people out there making gazillions of dollars, sitting in their gold-laden high-rise apartments and drinking substances that cost more than what I make in a month.

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    Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. 

    But I also know tons of people sitting in coffee shops, working hard, developing their killer ideas, and loving every minute of it. Even if they make less than any corporate job would afford them.

    Sure, some passion-fueled entrepreneurs make great money — but that isn’t a bad thing. Passion and money don’t have to be completely separate. In my opinion, combining them is more the goal, no?

    What does this mean for the world?

    Whether you believe it or not, things in the world are a-changin’. What I read in a recent New York Times article struck a chord. It said that kids nowadays are being born with a more clear view of what is essential.

    I bet kids don’t think big board rooms and expense accounts are “essential”. I think they never did.

    What’s changing is that kids are maintaining their view of what is essential. As we all grow up, we are taking our priorities with us.

    No way I’d take an expense account over the freedom and flexibility to spend Mother’s Day with my mommy (which I did this year).

    But we’re clear on the fact that, in order to keep a lifestyle that is flexible and fun, our work has to be sustainable, as well. If our priorities are straight, it’s not about racking up the beans — it’s about having enough beans to continue doing what we love how we love to do it.

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    How do we make passion sustainable?

    In my case, I love to write. My goal is to make my writing sustainable — to make enough money through my writing to allow myself to write more and more every day. If I make my passion sustainable, I can dedicate more time to it — without going hungry, of course.

    Here are some tips that have led me along my path to sustainability, and made me feel more fulfilled in business in the process:

    1. Write down what makes you curious and excited.

    Being aware of yourself and your emotions sounds corny and trite, but we all have something more to learn about ourselves. Do the world a favor, and take note of what truly drives you most.

    When you think back to the last few months, which experiences stand out the most? What was the last thing you did that made you throw your arms up in the air with accomplishment? What activities feel exhilarating and fun?

    More importantly, when you have free time, what is the first thing you turn to —the computer, a notebook, videos, music, friends, family, etc?

    2. Be as useful as possible.

    Passion and curiosity is important, but so is making your work useful. Without being useful, there’s little chance people will want to, well, pay you for it.

    You’re useful to people as long as you are one step ahead of them. If you know one tiny bit more than they do on what they need, you’re useful and can make that help sustainable.

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    3. Make sure everyone knows it.

    Once you know what you love to do and once you have made yourself useful to them, they have to know you exist. The best way to do that is to analyze this:

    When people think of your industry or your niche, are you among the top 10 people they think of?

    Becoming top of mind is the most important. Keep yourself aiming for that goal, and you won’t falter.

    I haven’t yet found my way to becoming this kind of sustainable new business person, but I am trying. Every unconventional step I take gets me one inch closer to sustainability, to success, to inspiring others along the way.

    It’s hard, but it’s been exhilarating and so worth it.

    While business will always deal with money, new types of leaders are emerging that put meaning and passion over just paying the bills. What’s your take on this new type of business leader? Do you recognize them around you, in your workplaces and in your social circles?

    If you aren’t one already, would you like to be?

    (Photo credit: Thumbs up via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on June 2, 2020

    How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter (With Examples)

    How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter (With Examples)

    Think of your cover letter for a job application as an in-person introduction. Your resume outlines the facts—where you worked and for how long, along with your major accomplishments. But your cover letter also shows off your personality.

    Your cover letter should outline the case for why you deserve the job without being “salesy.” How do you do that? Follow these 12 important guidelines.

    1. There Is No Cookie-Cutter Cover Letter for a Job

    Targeting your resume to a particular job may mean changing up your “Objective” section a bit or adding to your “Executive Summary” section. Cover letters, though, really need to focus on the particular person you’re writing to, the particular job, and the particular company. It needs to prove, with an economy of words, that your job experience fits the requirements of the position for which you’re applying.

    Your letter should show that you have amassed the skills you need to succeed in that workplace. And, your cover letter should clinch your prospects by making the case that you are very excited about working at that particular company.

    2. Always Opt-in to the Optional Cover Letter

    Some job postings will give applicants the option of opting out of providing a cover letter for a job[1]. Don’t take the bait! Use the opportunity to further sell yourself in a personalized, well-crafted cover letter that creatively shares who you are and why your skills and personality align with the position and the company. Think of your cover letter for a job as an opportunity to describe your value proposition.

    3. A Reference Goes a Long Way

    Did someone recommend you for the job? Put that in the subject line of your cover letter if possible. If an online listing dictates what your subject line must be, cite the personal recommendation in the first sentence of your letter:

    Dear Ms. Sanders,

    Steve Smith recommended me for your Assistant Planner position. I worked with Steve at the XYZ company for four years as his assistant until he moved on, and I feel as though I learned from the best.  His high praise for you is the primary reason I am applying for this position, as I consider him an excellent judge of character. 

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    You may want to bolster Steve’s recommendation with a short anecdote about working with Steve. Don’t be shy. Steve’s high opinion of you will likely mean that your resume gets a serious look.

    4. Outline the Key Points You Want to Make

    Company by company, your cover letter for a job application needs to be specific and bulletproof. Unless you have a great deal of practice in writing cover letters, it’s hard to just bang them out. So don’t even try. Instead, start with a list of points you intend to make. Generally, these would be a “grabby” introduction, a story or two about a particular accomplishment that is relevant to the job to which you are applying, a reason why you are the ideal candidate for the position, and a conclusion with a suggested next step.

    1. Intro – Have been familiar with the company since my father worked there in the 1980s.
    2. College Major – Majored in industrial engineering so I could get a job at CYY Building, Inc.
    3. Captain of Soccer Team – Prepared me to solve problems, promote morale, and coach a team.
    4. Ask for Informational Interview – 15 minutes to meet in person and learn more about opportunities.
    5. Compelling Close – Ask Hiring Manager to call me. Say I will call her in a week if I don’t hear from her first.

    5. Moderating the Tone of Your Cover Letter

    Some companies are buttoned-up. The workers wear three-piece suits to the office each day plus loafers. Other companies are more casual. The employees wear shorts in the summertime and skateboard through the hallways. In an in-person interview, you would never wear shorts to a company whose employees are sporting three-piece suits.

    Similarly, your cover letter needs to strike the right note. The letter you write to a start-up should sound markedly different than the letter you would write to a white-shoe law firm.

    For example, even using something as informal as “Greetings” for the salutation may not be appropriate at a more formal firm. And definitely don’t use the default “To Whom It May Concern.” Instead, try to find the name of the hiring manager with an online search. If that’s not possible, you will want to begin with “Dear XYZ Hiring Manager.” The tone of your cover letter for a job starts at the very beginning.

    6. Create an Attention-Grabbing Opening Line

    Think of going to hear a presentation by a motivational speaker, only to have her open with, “I’m here today to present (fill in with title of the presentation).” What a let down! What if instead, she started with, “I just ran a half marathon. Now doesn’t that sound better than if I told you, ‘I tried to run a marathon but quit half-way through?’” See the difference? You want to hear more.

    Craft the first line of your cover letter with the utmost care. It doesn’t need to be clever, but it needs to show your personality and your fit for the position.

    Dear Mr. Stevens,

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    I am committed to making the customer service experience better for people like my grandmother. At 87 years old, my Gram is lost in the digital world and reliant on customer service representatives she can reach by telephone to answer her questions and solve her problems. She regularly shares stories of frustrating dead-ends she experiences with people wanting her to “go online and make your selection.”  Yet, whenever she reaches someone willing to take the extra time to resolve her issue, she sings the company’s praises to everyone she knows. Based on Gram’s frustrations, I want to be that person who won’t give up or pass the buck with bewildered customers.  

    With a strong, anecdotal opening such as this, you show purpose and passion behind your application to be a customer service representative.

    7. Recognize the Value of Cover Letter Real Estate

    Spare writing is key in the cover letter for a job. It is always best if your letter doesn’t exceed a page. Those reviewing applications appreciate a letter that is terse, yet provides useful information to evaluate an applicant. This means you have five to six paragraphs in which to work.

    Repeating anything from your resume is a waste of real estate. Think in terms of describing why you are applying for the position and why you are the best candidate.

    To best show your personality, avoid stale phrases such as, “I believe my experience would be a good fit in your organization.” Add punch to your statements that show off your accomplishments and your attitude.

    I thrive in start-up environments where I’ve learned to expect the unexpected and to make changes on the fly. In one such instance, I uncovered better results from a pilot project and in under 30 minutes had updated the CEO’s presentation in time for his meeting with a venture capitalist.

    8. Getting Creative

    On the surface, a requirement is a requirement. Many online ads specify the number of years, and you might think they are ironclad. But if you count the number of years you amassed a particular skill at the job and add any volunteer work where you also used that skill, you might surpass the requirement.

    Say that you are applying for a position in fund development. If your career experience in putting on charity fundraisers falls a little short, it’s certainly appropriate to add in time spent organizing fundraising events as a volunteer—as long as you indicate it as such in your cover letter for the job.

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    I recently passed my two and a half year mark of employment as a fund development associate with Notable Events. Concurrently, I oversaw all aspects of two annual fundraising galas as a volunteer board member of Reach for the Stars Foundation, offering scholarships to first-generation college-bound students. These involved finding sponsors for more than 70 silent auction items, renting event space, working with caterers, recruiting volunteers and MC-ing both events, which each drew more than 200 attendees and, together, raised more than $250,000. I believe this intensive hands-on experience helps supplement my years of employment.

    Showcasing your community ethos through volunteering could make up for the deficit in actual on-the-job experience.

    9. Making the Case that You Fit

    How will you fit in at the company? With some research, you can easily figure out the corporate culture of an organization. Many companies share their core values in job recruitment ads. But even if you can’t discern a company’s mission or beliefs from its advertising, you can learn it from articles you read about the company.

    Is it employer-centric or employee-centric? Is the culture more traditional or more fun? And what are you looking for? When you find a company where your needs align with theirs, that’s an indication that you would fit in well. Take care to make sure that your cover letter reflects how you fit.

    If you are a recent military veteran[2], consider which civilian positions lend themselves to the regimented culture of which you’ve become accustomed. For example, your occupational specialty while in the military could dovetail well with a company’s job requirements—and you have the added benefit of discipline, following instructions, and teamwork that you can apply to any future position.

    10. Always Ask for What You’re Worth

    If the employer asks applicants to share their salary requirements in the cover letter for a job, disregard what you made in your former position and look into the salary ranges[3] of the advertised position. You will want to adjust up or down within the salary range depending on your prior experience in the industry or in a similar role.

    The key is to not undercut yourself by asking below the minimum amount, or to overinflate your worth by asking for an amount higher than the maximum pay in the salary range.

    11. Show Your Cover Letter to Three People Whose Opinion You Trust

    Once your letter is out in the world, it’s too late to tweak it for that particular job. You will dramatically improve your chances of having your cover letter “land” correctly if you’re proactive. Find a few people in the field, and ask them if you can show them your cover letter before you send it out.

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    If you are starting out and don’t know anyone in the field, you may want to consider paying for a professional career consultant or coach to review your cover letter and resume. Remember that the care you demonstrate in your cover letter is that employer’s first impression of you.

    12. End With Enthusiasm

    You want to stay upbeat all the way to the end of the letter. Let the reviewer know that you appreciate the opportunity to apply and that you look forward to hearing from (or having a chance to meet with) them in person.

    It would be an honor to be part of your team, and I hope to have an opportunity to discuss this role and how I could contribute to it in person.

    This acknowledges that the organization gets to make the next move, but that you anticipate it will be in your favor.

    Sign off formally (“Sincerely” or “Best regards”) or informally (“Best” or “Thank you”) depending on the tone of the letter. Also, be sure to include your email address and phone number under your name. This ensures that, should the reviewer wish to contact you, the contact information is easily accessible.

    Final Thoughts

    The best cover letters for a job are lively, authentic, and provide a memorable result, anecdote or example of your approach to work. By tying your approach to the requirements of the job description and revealing your personality as a fit for the organization, you will give yourself a winning chance for making the cut and landing that coveted job interview.

    More Tips on Writing a Great Cover Letter

    Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

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