Dog Days of Summer: Five Things My Dog Taught Me About Career Communications

C. Jane Taylor, Author

Resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. This is what I mean by career communications. Conversations with your boss are another thing entirely. As a self-employed writer, I know that those kinds of conversations can be tricky. My dog teaches me about those, certainly, but more germane to this blog post are the things he teaches me about writing resumes, cover letters, and especially LinkedIn profiles.

Dewey, like many rescue dogs of his mixed breed (Pitbull/Lab), is thoughtful, playful, dependable, easy going, and yet demanding. He knows all too well how to make his opinions known. He talks and groans and howls and barks, but more than that his great communication attributes are as clear as the nose on his face. He uses them to teach me how to do a better job writing career communications for my clients. His suggestions are pertinent to them, too.

1. Authenticity. There is no mistaking my dog’s meaning. His very loose grasp of language notwithstanding, his body language and facial expressions speak volumes. Your career communications should be such authentic expressions. Your resume portrays the best that you can be at work. Be very clear about your successes, your strengths, your goals, and most importantly, your discriminators. LinkedIn is your opportunity to get more personable and tell the story of what makes you your best. Think of your LinkedIn profile as the mean between your resume and your Facebook page. Be yourself, but a little bit tucked-in.

2. Patience. Dewey waits for me to respond. Even when we hike together, he runs ahead, and turns to wait for me to say he’s a good boy. Patience is a virtue that is incredibly difficult to cultivate during a career search, or even while writing a resume. Take your time. Breathe. Do a good job.

3. Persistence. At the end of the day, Dewey stands at my side here at my desk and nudges me. This is an exciting proposition because at my office, I use an exercise ball for a chair. Each nudge rocks the boat considerably. His nudge means it’s time to take a break. Time to turn off the computer. Time for a walk. If his nudge bares no fruit, he waits at my side quietly, and then sticks his nose under the crook of my left elbow, quickly throwing his head back and lifting my left hand off of the keyboard. If this tactic doesn’t work, he places both front feet on the exercise ball and stands up. In this posture, Dewey will not be denied. I inevitably acquiesce.

Dewey knows best. Persist in your career communications, too. If your cover letter does not inspire a response, rewrite it and try again. If you are lucky, you are applying for a position at a busy, active place. Such pursuits are often more worthwhile.

4. Playfulness. My office is downstairs. Sometimes on a whim, Dewey leaps out of his dog bed near my desk, runs up the stairs, and fetches his rawhide bone. As he runs back down the stairs and reenters the office, he gets a certain mischievously look in his eyes as if to say, “Mom, I have a great idea,” or “Mom, look what I have!” He wags his tail furiously, throws the bone down at my feet, and bows. At this point, he is fairly irresistible, and he knows it. The game is afoot. In your career communications, keep a sense of playfulness. Know when and how to use it.

5. Friends. Dewey is the goodwill ambassador of every walk we take. He makes friends easily. And as a pack animal, he depends upon the friends he makes. You should, too. If you are not good at singing your own praises, enlist the help of friends (like me). On the other hand, if you are too good at singing your own praises, enlist the help of others (like me, for example).

Your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile may be the most important investment in both time and money that you can make in your career search. Treat them as my sweet Dewey treats me – with authenticity, patience, persistence, playfulness, and friends – and you’ll reap the rewards. ​

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