Resourcefulness: what to do?
Try to harness your inner resourcefulness by following these three steps and answering the questions for yourself:
1- Can I find the answer on my own?
2- Can I experiment in a low-stakes way?
3- Can I now complete the initial task--either partially or entirely--on my own?
Let's look at how to do each step for each of the examples above.
The job candidate who has to address a cover letter to an individual by name, but doesn't know how to find the name.
1- Can you find the answer on your own? You shouldn't be surprised by this suggestion for how to go about getting answers on your own: Google, Google, Google. First, search the job ad for a name to whom any questions should be address or a source for the job posting. Then Google the company and department to see if it's clear who the hiring manager or head of the department or program to which you are applying is. If you can't find anyone who is clearly the authority "in charge" of the future workplace you aspire to, then make some phone calls.
2- Can you experiment in a low stakes way? Instead of picking up the phone and calling people who you think might be in charge directly, try finding a main number with a receptionist or administrative assistant answering the phone. Then simply ask for the name of the hiring manager or the person to whom cover letters for the position should be addressed. If you don't want your name and number on a caller ID, borrow a friend's phone--or even have a friend make the call for you. Friends are great resources!
3- Can you complete the initial task? In this case, yes! You might never be 100% certain that you have the right name, but being resourceful means taking risks while mitigating them wherever possible. Once you've done your due diligence in items 1 and 2 above and identified a key & important person, you're not likely to go wrong by addressing the letter to that person by name.
The mid career technophobe who needs pdf attachments or the perplexed summer intern with a PowerPoint assignment.
1- Can you find the answer on your own? I can't say it enough: Google, Google, Google. Literally, type any question into the search bar and you're likely to get item-by-item to do lists, YouTube tutorials, screencasts--more resources that you could possibly want or need.
For saving a document as a pdf and attaching it, you'll find a video or screencast that walks you through it. You can pause as you simultaneously work through it step-by-step on a Word document. If the video shows a Mac and you use a PC, go back to Google and edit your initial question to include "on a PC" or just click on another of the many resources that came up with your first search.
For editing PowerPoint slides you might find a bulleted list that says:
- on the Insert menu, scroll down to text box
- click on the slide approximately where you want to insert the text box
- compose your text
- move cursor over text box until you see the four-way arrows and click
- use arrows on keyboard to move up, down, left, right until text box is positioned exactly where you want it
2- Can you experiment in a low stakes way? Try saving a Word doc with just a few characters typed on it as a PDF to make sure you can do it and that the result is what you want. Then attach it in an email to yourself to make sure it works.
Use a single blank PowerPoint slide to insert screen captures, insert & move text boxes, and draw circles of different sizes and colors with fill and no fill. Get comfortable with all the features you'll need as an exercise unto itself.
3- Can you find the answer on your own? Yes! Once you've practiced in a low stakes way, you'll be comfortable enough to save your resume as a pdf, check the formatting, and attach to an email. Once you've played around with an empty PowerPoint slide to make sure you can use all the editing features you need, it will seem easy--and much less frustrating--to apply those skills to the "real thing."
Resilience: what to do?
1- Take the long view.
Think of other times in your life when the whole world seemed to ride on some big event or decision--the college admissions letters; choosing a major; landing your first job; moving far away from home, friends and family. In hindsight, those "big" decisions can seem like foregone conclusions--you can't imagine that there ever were other choices because the choice you made quickly starts to feel like the only choice you ever had.
Now apply this to your current situation--know that whatever action you take, it will quickly become your normal reality. Don't settle for any old job, don't lose sight of what it is you really want to spend your time doing day in and day out--because whatever you end up doing, it will just be your normal reality.
Keep the big goals in mind, then start doing the work little-by-little. Find the job ads that intrigue you, talk to anyone and everyone about what and who they know, update your resume and cover letter to match every single job you want to apply to, apply, get informational interviews, etc.
If you're the scholar with a "revise & resubmit" decision on your hands, print out the comments you have to address, start making the easy changes and cross those items off as you go. Make the necessary edits to your literature review: find any new readings, extract the pertinent bits, work them into your text, add them to your reference list. Then cross all that off your list! Put one foot in front of the other and little by little get the big tasks done.
2- Treat the tasks like a child learning to tie shoes or ride a bike.
How many failures and missteps lead to acquiring those basic skills? The failures and missteps are what eventually lead to the lifelong skills. You have to keep trying, keep failing, take a break, learn from mistakes, and return to the task.
Did you send out 100 generic resumes and never hear back from anyone? Well, it was a mistake. Learn from it: do your research, customize your letters, get networking and send out one well-composed, targeted letter at a time.
You didn't explain your key terms well in the manuscript you submitted? Use your phone app to record your voice as you explain out loud what you mean by the key words, transcribe it, fix it up and insert into your article. When you read it the next day, you'll think it's been improved. Then fix whatever the next thing is...