Now’s the time when forward-thinking and eager young job-seekers start considering where they’ll work next summer. Good for you for planning ahead!
So with job application deadlines at Camp Alleghany looming, I thought I’d offer some tips to help you create the best counselor applications that you can. But first a note on deadlines so that you can plan with precision:
- Junior Counselor applications are due November 1, 2013.
- Head Counselor applications are due January 1, 2014.
- Counselor applications are due February 1, 2014.
Also a note on quality and logistics. All applications must:
- Either be typed or filled out in pen. NO PENCILS! 🙂
- Use your absolute best penmanship — neatness says a lot about your personal habits and discipline.
- Check and double-check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Attention to detail demonstrates clarity and a responsibility.
- Don’t have Mom or any other person fill out your applications. Advice and feedback from others is fine. Having others do your work is a no-no.
Back to basics
Now, back to the real meat of the matter. I hope the following advice on the content and approach of your application will hold you in good stead no matter what you apply for in life. Really my advice involves three basic things:
- Be yourself.
- Be honest.
- Be simple.
There’s only one you
When applying for jobs, positions, or clubs, the temptation can arise to try to present yourself as someone other than who you uniquely are. You might think you have to be a certain kind of person, exhibit a certain set of interests, or draw from a certain kind of references in order to even get looked at much less picked for the position.
Of course, we all want to — and need to — put our best foot forward when submitting applications. And you do want to mention those bits of life or job experience that relate to what you’re going for. But there’s a subtle difference between showing this and trying to be someone you’re not.
When you show the authentic YOU combined with putting your best foot forward and exhibiting true interest in the position you’re seeking, you have the best chance of truly being considered.
With this approach you’ll also find fitting in to the job once you’ve been selected much easier because…you can just continue being you!
Remember that everyone has unique qualities, experiences, and contributions to make. When hiring committees put together their teams, they look for how each member fits in with the group. Trust that you’re okay just as you are and that each opportunity is a chance to grow and expand who you are as you continue on life’s journey.
At Camp Alleghany we look for authentic candidates. And that means you! If it’s you to be smart, funny, funky, sporty, artistic, insightful, gregarious, nerdy, or whatever is you, don’t be afraid of being that.
Honesty is the best policy
It may seem that being honest is not much different than truly being yourself. Well yes, those two ideas are linked.
But it’s also important to emphasize that it’s never a good idea to pad resumes or make claims that aren’t true.
You might be afraid that if you say you’ve never done something that’s a key part of the position you’re seeking, that there’s no way you’ll get the job. And sometimes that’s true if the competition you’re up against is much more experienced AND has other qualities the business may be seeking, such as friendliness, good communication skills, being well-organized, a team-player, or whatever else.
But because businesses usually look for more than one thing in a candidate, be honest about your experience while also being yourself and you still might very well get the job. You may have less experience with the key task, but crucial other qualities the business wants in its employees. Be honest about your abilities and strengths and you have a fair chance of getting the job.
If you’re asked if you’ve ever done a particular job or task and you haven’t, be honest. If you’re asked if you’re willing to do something the job demands and you’re not, say so and avoid a bad match. If you’re asked what you can contribute to the business or team, make clear which of your assets help make you a strong candidate. And ask questions to learn more. The business is looking for the right fit, and you should be looking for the right fit, too.
And when you’ve been honest, don’t be afraid. Businesses look for more than one quality in workers. Except for in highly specialized jobs, most people can be trained. When you’re honest, all parties know what they’re getting in to and can plan accordingly.
Simplicity is elegance
Finally, it’s always a good idea to keep it simple. Keep answers brief and focused both in applications and in interviews. Yes, you should always answer essay type questions in complete sentences. And when conversing you should be open and personable. But you don’t have to — and shouldn’t — ramble, add unnecessary extras, and basically feel like you have to write or say more, more, more in order to show that you’re up to snuff.
It’s far better to be direct and clear while still being thorough and open than to go on, and on, and on. Of course you need to know and practice the difference between being terse and being simple. It’s not about grunting out a fast response and then closing down. But it’s also not about adding a bunch of flounce and flutter that makes you look flighty and unfocused.
Conquer the world
With these little bits of advice you should be able to turn in a fantastic application for any of our counselor positions and also be ready for most anything you’ll apply for in life.
So be confident, good luck, and turn those applications in!
–Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls