Sunday, September 24, 2017

Resume Objective: Valuable to Have or Thing of the Past?

The average recruiter spends about six seconds looking at your resume, and you’ve got to make every one of them count. Do resume objectives help or hurt you?

A resume objective is a short statement that outlines your career direction. Objective statements were once the standard on every job-seeker’s resume. A decade or so ago, you wouldn’t have sent out a resume without one. But times change, and what recruiters look for in a standard CV has changed, too.

Are resume objectives old-fashioned?

It’s important not to waste space on a resume. Since keeping your resume to one page should be your goal, everything you include needs to work for you. In many cases, an objective is nonessential, which makes it little more than filler.

Many career experts argue that resume objectives are outdated, and some suggest that they should never be used. Think of it this way—besides you, who really cares about your career goals? Busy recruiters and hiring managers want to know what you can do for the company, not what you’re looking to get out of your next job.

A hiring manager is looking at your resume and thinking What’s in it for this company?. Objective statements are at odds with that, because they’re essentially saying “Here’s what I hope is in it for me.”

What should you use instead of a resume objective?

Although you’ll get different answers from different resume experts, the consensus seems to be that resume objectives are out of style. What should you use instead?

A Summary Statement

Rather than using valuable space on your resume to declare what sort of work you’re looking for, try summarizing yourself. Think of your summary statement (sometimes called Competencies or a Summary of Qualifications) as something similar to a LinkedIn summary, but with one exception—it needs to be short.

The goal of your summary statement is to answer the hiring manager’s “What’s in it for this company” question. It needs to be brief (about fifteen words or so) and carefully written for maximum impact. You should make every word count in your summary. Avoid filler words and phrases. Use strong verbs.

Writer known as being a good content creator with fifteen years of experience in writing feature articles.

What an abysmal example! It’s redundant. (A writer with “experience in writing”? Who knew?) It uses a filler phrase (“as being”). It includes a weak, overused adjective (“good”). And, finally, other than listing years of experience, it doesn’t say what sets the candidate apart from all the other writers who may be applying for the same job.

Let’s give it another try.

Expert content creator with fifteen years’ experience writing top-performing feature articles.

Much better. Now, our candidate isn’t saying she’s a “good content creator”; she’s confident that her fifteen years on the job make her an expert. She’s demonstrated her communication chops by making sure that her statement uses powerful language, with nary a weak verb in sight. And she’s included an important insight—the content she’s written has been top-performing.

Nothing At All

Even though summary statements are almost always better than resume objectives, both types of statements take up valuable space. And much of the time, the work experience you outline will do the talking. If you’re an experienced professional who needs to tie years of experiences together with a common thread, then a summary statement may be helpful. Otherwise, save the space and add some extra bullet points under the key roles you outline in the experience section of your resume.

Are there times when you should you use a resume objective?

There is one case to be made for objective statements—they’re useful when you’re making a major career change. According to the experts at The Muse:

If you have, say, five years of experience in business development and you’re now interested in marketing, your resume probably isn’t selling you as the best candidate for the gigs you’re applying to.

In this case, you could definitely benefit from having an objective statement to clearly explain that you’re making the switch and show how your skill set aligns with this new career path.

According to Monster.com, objective statements are also helpful for those seeking targeted entry-level positions. Keep in mind, though, that often your objectives are laid out in a cover letter.

Recruiters and hiring managers are more likely to focus on your education and relevant experience than anything else on your resume. If space is at a premium, it’s almost always safe to forego the objective statement and make sure your relevant work experience shines instead.

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Creative People Will Want to Know These 4 Tips from JJ Abrams

If you’re a fan of film, television, or lens flare, you’ve probably heard of JJ Abrams. He’s the Emmy award–winning writer-director-producer who brought us Alias, Felicity, Lost, Super 8, Mission Impossible III, Cloverfield, and 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Oh yeah . . . and he rebooted two of the greatest sci-fi franchises of all time, Star Trek and Star Wars. No big deal, y’all!

If you’re ready to make your own creative mark on the world, listen up—JJ’s got some advice for you. Here are four tips on creativity from the “Spielberg” of this generation.

via GIPHY

1Emotional Connection Is Everything

I love larger than life, kind of spectacle moments. But what’s important to me is that the characters are at the center, that emotionally you know where you are, and you’re tracking characters that are taking you through those spectacular moments. And that to me is the most important thing, that balance of the intimacy with the spectacle and the sort of hyper reality.

JJ knows the bottom line: your audience has to care. If they’re not emotionally invested in what’s going on, it doesn’t matter how shiny or bombastic you make something. That climactic moment you worked so hard to create will feel hollow if it’s lacking an emotional core for your audience to connect with.

2Be Open to the Best Idea

via GIPHY

If you’re not open to the best idea, whether it’s a scene for a movie, an episode or a story arc for a series, you’re closed to the possibilities . . . to look at it like a job or a project that is delineated by the expectations, to me limits the possibilities. Some of the great inventions were not intended.

JJ likens the creative process to “driving in the fog.” You have “the big idea” of where a project is going, but you’re also giving your work the space to organically evolve. The Lost character Ben Linus was originally written for a single episode. When actor Michael Emerson showed up (and was brilliant), the Lost creators realized the character could be far more important to the story, and Ben Linus became a central character. Are you willing to scrap your original idea for the best idea?

3Your Voice Matters

via GIPHY

. . . what I kind of learned early on is that your voice is as important as anyone else’s. You may not always be right and you shouldn’t be cocky about it but I felt that I needed to learn that the ideas that I had were as good as anyone else’s ideas. . . . That thing that you feel, if you really feel it, other people do too.

We all struggle with imposter syndrome and second-guessing ourselves. But if you’ve got an idea that excites you, don’t write it off. It may not always pan out, but if you don’t give yourself a chance, who will?

4The Only Thing Stopping You Is You

You want to write? Make movies? JJ’s advice is to go do it!

I used to say . . . to someone who wants to write, “Go! Write! Do your thing.” It’s free, you don’t need permission. But now I can say, “Go make your movie!” There’s nothing stopping you from going out there and getting the technology. You can lease, rent, buy stuff off the shelf that is . . . just as good, as the stuff that’s being used by the . . . “legit people.”

. . . the technology has been democratized, everyone has access to the ability to be a filmmaker, and if you want to do it, the only thing stopping you is you.

via GIPHY

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Earliest Convenience: Is It Awkward to Use This Phrase?

Your out-of-office email message says, “I’m away from my desk right now, but I’ll get back to you at my earliest convenience.” Have you created a grievous business faux pas? Surely, you meant well. How could it possibly be impolite to say that you’ll do something just as soon as it’s convenient for you?

Language has power. Words and phrases are open to interpretation. They can convey a certain tone, depending on the context in which they’re used.

Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” The trick to clear communication lies in choosing words and phrases that are less likely to be misinterpreted—the lightning bugs rather than the lightning.

Is there a problem with “earliest convenience”?

As impolite phrases go, there are certainly worse offenses. Whether this one rubs us the wrong way depends on the context in which it’s used.

At my earliest convenience

Let’s look at our out-of-office message example from above.

I’m away from my desk right now, but I’ll get back to you at my earliest convenience.

Our Verdict: Don’t use

Saying you’ll return someone’s email or call at your earliest convenience sounds impolite. Yes, you mean that you’ll get back to the person who’s contacted you as soon as you can, but what the recipient hears is something more like, “I’ll get back to you when (and maybe if) it’s convenient for me.” The implication is that you’ll do it when you feel like it, or when you’re good and ready, or maybe never. Snooty!

At your earliest convenience

But what if you’re using “at your earliest convenience” to tell someone that you’re okay with them getting around to your request when it’s convenient for them? Let’s look at an email between colleagues, John and Mary.

Hi Mary,

I’m going to need our profit and loss statement from Q1 in order to prepare a report. Would you send it to me at your earliest convenience?

Thanks, John

Our Verdict Okay to use, but . . .

. . . there are better ways to express that a request isn’t urgent. Although it isn’t rude to tell Mary that it’s okay for her to tend to your request when it’s convenient, “at your earliest convenience” still falls short on a few counts.

  • It’s not specific enough. You’ve told Mary you need something, but you didn’t tell her when you absolutely need it by. She could assume you don’t really need it at all. A better option would be “. . . at your earliest convenience, or no later than [date].”
  • It sounds jargony. One of the reasons many people dislike “at your earliest convenience” is that it sounds like business jargon—something we all love to hate. Use plain language instead.
  • It’s easily misinterpreted. What if Mary sees your request as urgent when you meant to say that you were in no hurry? She may take time out of her day to rush through your task, which could turn out to be anything but convenient for her.

Alternatives to “Earliest Convenience”

As phrases go, dropping “earliest convenience” from your repertoire is the safest bet. But what should you use instead?

At my earliest convenience

We’ve already stated that you should drop “at my earliest convenience” from workplace and personal communication tout de suite. It comes across as inconsiderate, if not outright rude.

If you do have time to honor a request, instead of saying you’ll get around to it when it’s convenient, tell the person when they can expect your response. (“I’ll reply when I return to the office on [date].”)

At your earliest convenience

Although there’s nothing wrong with this phrase, it might actually be too polite, or at least too open-ended. Although you could use softer, less jaron-laden language like “whenever you have time” or “as soon as you’re able”, once again, we prefer specificity.

Let’s revisit the John and Mary email example and make it more specific.

Hi Mary,

I’m going to need our profit and loss statement from Q1 to prepare a report I’ll be presenting next Monday. Would you be able to send me the P&L no later than Wednesday of this week?

Thanks, John

Here, instead of telling Mary to get around to sending the P&L statement whenever it’s convenient for her, and leaving her to wonder how soon he needs them, John has used a call-to-action to ask whether she would be able to send them over by Wednesday.

Now, Mary knows what John needs and when he needs it. Plus, having the CTA in the form of a question could prompt her to reply, letting him know whether she’ll be able to accommodate the request.

Bonus: Mary’s reply will document the exchange. If she says that yes, she can have the P&L statement ready by Wednesday and doesn’t deliver, John can follow up. If she still doesn’t respond, he can point to this email trail when he has to explain why the P&L didn’t make it into his report. Way to cover your backside, John!

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Lesson 270 - Parts of the Sentence - Adverb Clauses

Adverb clauses like adjective clauses can give variety to your sentences. Sometimes we find adverb clauses that have left some words out. They are called reduced adverb clauses. Example: While (she was) speaking to the timid student, the teacher spoke slowly.

Instructions: Find the adverb clauses in these sentences and tell what word they modify. If it is a reduced adverb clause or elliptical adverb clause add the missing words.

1. You act as if I enjoy punishing you.

2. The contractor roughened the concrete while it was still wet.

3. My sister is smarter than I.

4. The manager talked with the workers after listening to their suggestions.

5. Before returning to work, he ate his lunch.


--For answers scroll down.











Answers:

1. as if I enjoy punishing you modifies the verb act

2. while it was still wet modifies the verb roughened

3. than I (am smart) modifies the predicate adjective smarter

4. after (he had listened) to their suggestions modifies the verb talked

5. Before (he returned) to work modifies the verb ate

For your convenience, all of our lessons are available on our website in our lesson archive at http://www.dailygrammar.com/archive.html. Our lessons are also available to purchase in eBook and Workbook format.
from Daily Grammar Lessons Blog
http://dailygrammarlessons.blogspot.com/2017/09/lesson-270-parts-of-sentence-adverb.html

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Lesson 269 - Parts of the Sentence - Adverb Clauses

Adverb clauses like adjective clauses can give variety to your sentences. Sometimes we find adverb clauses that have left some words out. They are called reduced adverb clauses. Example: While (she was) speaking to the timid student, the teacher spoke slowly.

Instructions: Rewrite the following reduced adverb clauses adding the missing words.

1. After hearing the terrible noise, they ran for their lives.

2. The customer paid for his groceries when passing through the check out stand.

3. Allen is only happy while participating in an argument.

4. Before leaving for the hike, the boy scouts were warned about snakes.

5. Until watering the lawn in the morning, he didn't see the dandelions in it.


--For answers scroll down.











Answers:

1. After they had heard the terrible noise, they ran for their lives.

2. The customer paid for his groceries when he passed through the check out stand.

3. Allen is only happy while he is participating in an argument.

4. Before they left for the hike, the boy scouts were warned about snakes.

5. Until he had watered the lawn in the morning, he didn't see the dandelions in it.

For your convenience, all of our lessons are available on our website in our lesson archive at http://www.dailygrammar.com/archive.html. Our lessons are also available to purchase in an eBook and a Workbook format.
from Daily Grammar Lessons Blog
http://dailygrammarlessons.blogspot.com/2017/09/lesson-269-parts-of-sentence-adverb.html

Lesson 268 - Parts of the Sentence - Adverb Clauses

Adverb clauses like adjective clauses can give variety to your sentences. Sometimes we find adverb clauses that have left some words out. They are called reduced adverb clauses. Example: While (she was) speaking to the timid student, the teacher spoke slowly.

Instructions: Reduce the adverb clauses in these sentences.

1. While he was watching the geese, he saw the fox.

2. Richard got a thorn in his finger when he was pruning the roses.

3. The cat meowed loudly after it searched for a way into the house.

4. Although the man feared being ostracized, he continued helping everyone.

5. Will measured the board again before he made his final cut.


--For answers scroll down.











Answers:

1. While watching the geese, he saw the fox.

2. Richard got a thorn in his finger when pruning the roses.

3. The cat meowed loudly after searching for a way into the house.

4. Although fearing being ostracized, the man continued helping everyone.

5. Will measured the board again before making his final cut.

For your convenience, all of our lessons are available on our website in our lesson archive at http://www.dailygrammar.com/archive.html. Our lessons are also available to purchase in an eBook and a Workbook format.
from Daily Grammar Lessons Blog
http://dailygrammarlessons.blogspot.com/2017/09/lesson-268-parts-of-sentence-adverb.html

What Is the Best Way to Develop a Writing Style?

Whether or not you realize it, you have a writing style. It’s like fashion: sometimes you don’t notice it at all (jeans and a t-shirt), and other times you can’t take your eyes away (Fashion Week, or Lady Gaga). Whether you’re trying to make it as an author or churning out dozens of business emails a day, your writing style is your signature way of communicating.

Your writing style is uniquely yours, but that doesn’t mean it has to be so unique that it causes confusion. Writers like Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, and Ernest Hemingway have such personalized writing styles that you could spot their writing in a lineup, but let’s just say Woolf’s run-on sentences aren’t going to be a hit in a business memo. To get your point across but also stay true to your own writing style, it’s important to identify your quirks, polish your technique, and be willing to adapt.

Identify Your Writing Style

Are you quirky? Casual? Formal? Are there certain words you use all the time? Are parentheses all over your writing? Do you go for diverse punctuation, or prefer short, choppy sentences?

The components that make up the way you communicate are what make your writing style yours—whether you consider yourself a Writer with a capital W or just have to create text for your job from time to time.

If you’re interested in improving your communication, start paying attention to your habits. Notice what favorite words keep popping up, whether you find yourself going for semicolons or em-dashes, and other specifics.

How?

  • Go through old chapters, articles, or emails you’ve written and take notes on recurring traits.
  • As you’re writing something new, reread each sentence or paragraph to find your tics.
  • Ask a friend or colleague what they’ve noticed about your writing. Sometimes an extra pair of eyes can pick up details we’re used to glazing over.

After you’ve identified what characterizes your writing style, you can work to improve it, or if you’re satisfied, keep on writing with that heightened awareness.

Hone Your Writing Style

Having a personal writing style is good, but a writing style that’s too out-there can get in the way of comprehension. Whether you do journalism, business writing, or fiction, make sure your writing style fits the norm, but is still your style.

For example, if you keep a thesaurus handy, great. Big words can help you be more precise and descriptive. Just make sure they’re not weighing down your writing or causing confusion.

Or, if you find yourself using phrases like “I think” or “I believe,” cut them. In general, writing sounds more confident and assertive without self-references.

Is the passive voice frequently used in your writing? Scratch that: do you use the passive voice in your writing? Active voice is stronger and more direct, and it’s often the better choice.

Curb Your Writing Style

Honing means making your style concise and clear. Curbing it means getting rid of bad habits. In general, you should check your grammar and spelling. (Shameless plug: we happen to know a handy writing tool that does just that!)

Other than that, unfortunately, writing has a lot of no-no’s, and they vary depending on the type of writing you do. Try these articles to get specific:

Adapt Your Writing Style

Back to the fashion metaphor. Maybe you have a thing for sweater-vests or mismatched socks, or you wear sweatpants whenever you can get away with it. Fashion is about being yourself, but there are times when you dress a certain way because it’s expected of you. A job interview. A wedding. Prom. You can still be yourself, but you adapt to the occasion.

Similarly, you can shift your writing style based on the situation you’re writing for. Here are some examples:

  • For a memo or report for work, write in short sentences or bullet points, use the vocabulary favored by your industry, and focus on the goal.
  • For emails, unless it’s a super serious topic, this is usually a place to be more casual. (What about social media? Find out.)
  • For essays or academic papers, formality goes through the roof. Read some examples of similar writing to get a sense of how to adapt.
  • For presentations, the writing on your slides or your speech notes should be casual and concise to suit the spoken format.

When it comes to your writing style, just like with fashion, you can be yourself, but also be appropriate for whatever situation you’re in. If you’re aware of your habits and willing to adapt, your writing style will not only serve you in a wide range of writing scenarios but will also continue to improve with time.

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