Working from Home Series: How to Apply for the Best Job for Your Mental Health — Writing Resumes and
Maintaining your mental health and keeping a job can be difficult. I spent a good part of my adult life trying to find the balance, and I didn’t truly find it until I began working from home, where I am finally able to both take care of myself and get my work done.
But maybe working outside of the house isn’t the issue, but finding the right job is. So regardless of whether you choose to work from home or to travel to your job, here are some tips for looking for and applying for the best jobs for your mental health.
Looking for Jobs
When you’re looking for jobs, be sure to put your mental health at the forefront and to find out as much as you can about the job before accepting it (or sometimes before even applying).
Learn as much as you can about the position and the company culture.
Check out the company website, read about them in the news and check their social media pages. Then, consider if it’s a place you really want to work before you put time into applying. For example, I was once considering applying for a job, and the company’s Facebook page showed all the employees playing baseball together. What appeared to be a company team. Knowing that (or anything close to that) wasn’t something I could keep up with in addition to my job, I chose not to apply. The company culture just didn’t suit me.
Consider if the daily workload is something you’d be confident completing. Especially if you're working from home because you'll be on your own.
If the workload isn’t clear in the job description, be sure to ask questions during the interview so you are aware of everything that will be expected of you.
Remember, you want to make sure the job is a good fit for you just as much as the employer wants to make sure you’re a good fit for the job.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of what will be expected of you before accepting a job. And consider if you can realistically meet the expectations without sacrificing too much of yourself.
If the expectations aren't made clear in the job description, then be sure to inquire about them during the interview.
Ask for what will benefit your mental health upfront. You don't have to divulge information, but if they want to hire you, you have some room to negotiate.
Be realistic, but let them know what you want. If it’s working from home two to three days a week, and your work won’t suffer, ask for it. You may not get it, but then it’s up to you to decide if you still want the job.
Find the right jobs to apply for. During your job search, you don't want to waste your time applying for jobs that aren't a good fit for you, so you should spend a good amount of your time looking for the right jobs first. See tips on finding jobs and growing your professional network.
Applying for Jobs
Once you’ve found the job(s) you’d like to apply for, you will need to create and/or revise the documents you will use to apply. In order to make these documents work for you, you will need to use one or more to sell yourself for the position each time you apply for a job.
These are the items I’ve been teaching my students and clients to use for years to aid them in getting interviews, jobs and promotions:
This is a one-sentence statement that addresses who you are as a worker and what you do in the industry you are applying to work in.
Take some time to write your statement. Play with words and phrases and think of what you are saying to best sell yourself for the job.
Make sure you are as specific as possible. Go beyond using words like skills and experience and really tell the employer what you can do.
Each word in the sentence should describe exactly who you are and show the employer what they can expect of you. If you increase sales by 30%, say so. If you’re an expert event planner, let them know.
While it may be tempting to use adjectives, try to avoid them as they only add bulk to your statement. You want to keep it as clear and concise as possible. Also, avoid cliche words and phrases like hardworking or go-getter.
Make sure you write a branding statement and not an objective:
Your branding statement is: who you are, what you do and where you’ve done it. Branding statements focus on what you can do for the employer and for the industry in general.
Your branding statement is not an objective. Objectives are outdated because they focus on what the employer can do for you.
Here's the difference:
Branding Statement: Sales associate who keeps guests happy by providing great service while keeping the four keys in mind: safety, show, courtesy and efficiency.
Objective: Marketing associate looking to obtain an event coordinating job with the American Lung Association and gain more knowledge and experience in the event planning/coordinating industry.
Your statement should appear on your resume, cover letter and LindedIn page, and is what you can use as your elevator pitch while networking and interviewing. See last week's post if you are creating a LinkedIn profile.
Everyone wants to write one resume they can use for every job they apply for. But submitting a generic resume won’t get you an interview. Instead, you need to have a resume for each job you apply for to highlight your qualifications for that job, specifically.
Use the job description for the job you are applying for and create your resume using keywords from the job description.
You should also use your knowledge of the company (by researching them, their mission and goals, etc.) and of the industry in general.
If you are applying for a job in an industry you’ve never worked in before, look at position descriptions and draw from your experiences in other industries. Then, use keywords and phrases that show you can do the work you are applying to do, even if you haven’t worked in the industry before. For example, when I transitioned from waitressing to teaching, I relayed my skills of working with others, problem solving, understanding others’ needs and paying attention to detail.
Your resume should include:
a header with your name and contact information,
your branding statement,
your main qualifications for the specific job you are applying for,
your employment history (or experience if your history was unpaid) and
one additional category that tells the employer something about you. This shouldn't be your hobbies necessarily (think of the context: you want to gear everything toward selling yourself for the job), but something like volunteer work or affiliations that show you are doing things outside of your employment in your industry.
Note: Unless you have 10 or more years’ experience in your industry, your resume should not exceed one page. You can play with the spacing and sizing to make your resume fit.
No one likes writing cover letters, but they can set you aside from your competition and work as a first interview with an employer if well-written. So I always recommend writing one even if it’s optional.
While your resume should provide an overview of your qualifications, your cover letter is a place to provide specific examples of your top three to four qualifications to prove you can do what you say you can do.
Use your letter to provide examples using the STAR method (Situation or Task, Action and Result) that explain your experiences, proving you can do what you say you can do.
You should structure this as a letter with:
contact information for both you and the employer at the top,
a proper greeting (instead of, To Whom It May Concern, find the name of the person you are writing to),
a body, and
a conclusion and salutation.
Do not refer the employer to your resume or provide the same list of qualifications that appear on your resume. Use your cover letter to really sell yourself for the job.
When composing these documents for remote positions, your document design, grammar and punctuation count even more because they might be the only way a potential employer has to get to know you. So be sure to edit and revise multiple times prior to applying to ensure you are selling your best self.
Please feel free to ask questions and share successes in the comments below as you apply for jobs — and as always, good luck!
p.s. If you're sensory like me, be sure to check out next week's post on sensory tricks to boost mental health while working.
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay