Have you done your homework?

20 08 2009

Maybe you have been out of school for a long time. The days of sweating over homework the night before it’s due or finishing that assignment just at the last minute are probably gone. But do such experiences ever completely disappear? No, they don’t. And it wouldn’t be advantageous to you if they did. Why?

The meaning of homework

In school, homework was always set to move you a bit forward. An assignment with mathematical problem sets is designed to help you revise what you did in class, test your knowledge and maybe point to several areas which still need more practice. Homework is essentially a control system – a preparation for further improvements and gains. In school it allowed you to look at things in more detail and maybe gain new bits of information that helped with absorbing the following advanced subject matter. I’m not claiming that homework is universally a good tool and should be (over)used. But on a general level, it often has the advantage of allowing a person to ensure better gains from further opportunities to learn.

Homework outside school

In life we come across many situations that require “homework-like” preparation. And often these are key to improving our standing or raising our chances of gaining more in the long run.

EXAMPLE:

Looking for a job is a clear example of a situation where “doing your homework” is almost essential.

  • take care to write and then constantly update your resumé/CV:

Crafting a complete and representative CV detailing your qualifications and competencies takes time. A lot of time. Yet this initial investment pays off very highly especially since, after the first push, updating is usually much less time-consuming. So take the time to think through all that you’ve done in the past and make an inventory of activities, competencies and results that could make you a perfect fit for a job advertisement. Then tailor your CV for every application.

  • research the company before you make an application

Spend time on researching the company and position that you are applying for. This could separate you from the tens of applicants who will have posted general mass CVs expecting to be called for an interview simply on the basis of a non-tailored and (from the hiring manager’s perspective) nothing-saying piece of paper. Look for news in major newspapers. Use google or new social media like LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. What has the company done in the past few months? What is their position on the market? Why are they better than the competition? Why do you want to work for them? Investing 30 minutes of your time could save you the opportunity to actually receive an invitation for an interview.

  • send in a cover letter with your CV

Take the time to actually send a non-generic cover letter with every CV you send out. This may limit the number of positions you can apply for. But it will raise your chances for getting an interview at those that you do choose by a large percentage. Cover letters, tailored to the specific company and showing how your skills match the requirements of the positions as well as your interest in the company, will take you a great lenght further than hundreds of non-specific CVs.

“Doing your homework” still applies long after you’ve left school and can increase your chances of getting better opportunities and open a lot of doors. So have you been doing your homework recently? Maybe it’s time to start! Success if about more than just showing up.

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27 08 2009
Soon-to-be Grads: What are you doing now that will help you later? « Be like Alice in Wonderland … just look through glass.

[…] in the effort, do your homework, and make your CV stand out. Think about all your activities, skills and experiences that could […]

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