Category Archives: Resumes

One Cannot Not Communicate- Is Silence Golden?

Maybe Mom Wasn’t Always Right

The first of Paul Watzlawick’s five axioms is simple- “One Cannot Not Communicate.” Wanterfall says,

Even when you think you are not sending any messages, that absence of messages is quite evident to any observer, and can itself constitute quite a significant message. Not only that, but we usually transmit quite a few non-verbal messages unconsciously, even when we think we are not sending any messages at all.

What do you, as a professional, communicate when you choose not to communicate?

Photo courtesy of Bonoz

Photo courtesy of Bonoz

Perhaps your mother used to say, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” When your new friend with long, braided hair entered your home, she bit her tongue.

Did her silence mean, “I wouldn’t let my son wear his hair that long, but since I have no association beyond his association with you, I’ll make you feel comfortable enough without offering approval?” Her tongue biting left wiggle room- both for your friend’s eventual haircut and her possible opinion change.

While the intent behind silence might be noble, its very form is deceiving – a mask for a mix of thoughts and emotions forming in the sender or else a sign of ignorance. Silence is golden because it buys the sender time and it offers the receiver little information- or so is the hope.

What are the Effects of Non-Responses in Digital Communications? 

One cannot not communicate with social media. Not following a customer or fan on Twitter or G+, for example, could be construed as a slight. You’re too busy, too important, to ignorant to use the tools to follow and interact. Not having your social media in order says a lot about the organization behind your organization. Your brand communicates that it does’t embrace or understand the mediums or struggles to find funds. The receiver never really knows why you’re silent- just that you are and the resulting message is up for interpretation.

Internet marketer, Jay Baer, suggests:

Further, 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. Is your company prepared to handle social media inquiries within the hour? A few are. Most are not, in my experience, which potentially creates a disillusionment gap between customers’ anticipated response time, and your actual ability to provide a response.

Having a workforce to handle your social media interactions could be just what you need to reduce the stress in your customer service department.

One cannot not communicate with blogs. You haven’t written a blog post in weeks. Maybe there isn’t a lot happening in your company or industry – yeah right. You’re too busy, too underfunded, too unorganized. You were in the hospital. Whatever the reason, a lack of action or words communicates a message. Is it the message you want your fans to receive?

Darren Rouse looks at blogging this way:

The more posts you publish over time, the more doorways you present readers with to enter your blog.

1 post a week means you’ve got 52 doorways at the end of the year – daily posts means 365 doorways at the end of the year. This means people are more likely to see your content in RSS readers, in search engines, on social media etc. Over time this adds up.

Contracting out some of your brand’s writing work to writers can keep opening doors verses closing them in silence.

One cannot not communicate with correspondences. Two candidates fly out to your company for second interviews. You extend an offer to one. The chosen candidate receives your full attention. The other doesn’t. The one who didn’t get the job sends an email to you. No reply. This happens once. Twice. Three times. Surely, not communicating is a soft let down, right?  According to Career Builder,

56 percent of employers admitted that they don’t respond to all candidates or acknowledge receipt of their applications; 33 percent said they don’t follow up with candidates they interviewed with to let them know they didn’t get the job.

What does a lack of response communicate? That from the top down, your company’s communication process isn’t clear or even rude when not in need of a person, service, or product. It communicates disorganization and incompetency in the HR department. Don’t think for a moment that the candidate won’t remember the lack of communication when they’re in a better position.  According to the HT Group:

If you’re guilty of this and other bad hiring habits, beware your actions could complicate your recruiting efforts and even damage your company’s overall reputation. Here’s how (according to the same study):

  • Job seekers who don’t hear back after applying for a job are less likely to continue buying products or services from that company.
  • Did a job seeker have a bad experience with you? Half will tell their friends about it.
  • An overwhelming 75 percent of job seekers use traditional networking such as word-of-mouth to gather more information about a company.
  • More than 60 percent will check out your company on social media to find out if what you’re telling them about your culture is true.
  • More than two-thirds of job seekers would accept a lower salary if the company had exceptionally positive reviews online.

One cannot not communicate. What are the unintended messages you send just by choosing inaction or silence with your digital marketing strategies or relationships? From creating blog posts and social media posts to staying up with emails and correspondences silence is not usually golden.  Rethink if you’re clearly, consistently, and honestly, as well as tactfully communicating.

 

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Filed under Audience, Blog Writing Tips, Capturing Audience, Content Job Boards, Customer Profile, Leadership, Marketing, Project Management, Reputation Management, Resumes, Social Media

Tips to Bring Your Writing Resume into the 21st Century

My Web WritersResume

Technology has raised the bar for what defines a knock-out resume. For writers, this standard is even higher because you’re expected to excel at selling something with words – and in this case, what you’re selling is yourself. To remain competitive in the job market, you need a resume that stands out while presenting your talents in the most professional and memorable way possible. The following is a short list of the many available features you should consider adding to your resume. These will help you to show a future employer at first glance that you understand and use the latest technologies. Even the smallest addition can help your resume rise to the top of the stack!

Include social media

Social media can be both an advantage and a pitfall to a resume. If you regularly maintain your accounts with information that is a positive reflection on your character, it is worth considering including your social media handles here. Your Linkedin profile should always contain professional information, so this is a safe bet to begin with. Carefully consider adding your Twitter or Facebook profiles as well. The benefit of adding social media to your resume is that it shows that you are proficient at utilizing this technology and can do so in a professional manner. It will also allow future employers to take a more interactive look at your personality and may ultimately help you to land that job.

Use a QR Code

A Quick Response Code (or QR Code) is another way to incorporate interactive technology into your resume. These codes can be used to direct users to any number of things. You may choose to send a future employer to your online writing portfolio, blog or web site. Maybe you even have a video you’d like to showcase. This information can all be conveniently shared through a QR Code which users access by using their smart phones. Helpful Tip: Don’t pay for a QR Code! There are many web sites that will generate you one for free such as free-qr-code.net.

Get graphic

Infographics are being incorporated more and more into resumes. They are particular applicable to graphic designers or marketing professionals, but they can also be successful used in a writing resume as well. Much like social media profiles and QR Codes, they display your knowledge of advancing technologies and add that extra element of interest that will capture a future employer’s attention. They are also a creative way to tell the story of who you are and what you can do. If you aren’t skilled at creating your own infographic, seek out the help of a friend or explore the option of hiring someone to create one for you. While this may require a small investment, landing that job will pay you back ten-fold!

Writers may be a dime a dozen, but you have the opportunity to make your resume stand out among the rest. Showcasing your use of social media and knowledge of the latest technologies will turn your resume into a part of your work portfolio! ~Stephanie


Other Posts:

How do I write content based on buyer personas?

Ten Tips for Starting a Social Media Conversation

Prioritize Your Social Media Channels

Twenty-five Effective, Call-to-Action Phrases for E-commerce Content

Content for Less, Fat Brain Toys Involves Customers in Content Creation

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Filed under Resumes, Writing Careers

Formal Writing Rules I’ve Had to Unlearn

By My Web Writers

Formal Writing Rules I’ve Had to Unlearn

As a recent college graduate I have learned the specific art of writing an academic paper. Now that I have graduated there are some rules I need to learn how to break. I know I can’t forget my spelling and grammar rules no matter what I write. There are a few rules about my style that needed to change, though. Here are the top 10 rules that I have had to forget.

1.  Big Words. In academic papers using larger words was encouraged. They were a way to show off my knowledge. This is not the case in more informal writing. Now, I need to use the clearest words I can.

2.  Long Papers. Instead of writing pages on end to reach my point I need to be more concise. When I search the Internet I am looking for quick answers to my questions. I skip past articles that don’t answer my questions in the first few sentences.

3.  Long Paragraphs. There was a time where I was quite proud of my well-constructed, page-long paragraphs. Now I realize that no one wants to wade through that much support for my points. Now I just get to my point and then I move on.

4.  “You” and “I”. Formal papers never use the words you or I because it is a direct connection between the reader and author. Informal writing stresses that connection to the audience. You can’t create a connection to someone if you don’t talk to them directly.

5.  Contractions. This is a rule that I am grateful to break. Writing out contractions has always sounded too stiff to me. Contractions are everywhere in speech and now my writing can reflect that. Related to contractions I am now free to use shortened forms of words instead of feeling forced to write out the entire word.

6.   Passive Voice. This is another rule that I am grateful to break; I have no reason to use the passive voice. The passive voice only creates overly complicated sentences which increases the likelihood of misunderstandings.

7.   Conjunctions. The classic English rule that a sentence can’t start with a conjunction (and, but, or) is largely ignored in most writing. It is still seen as slightly unprofessional, but it is a great way to get a point across.

8.   Slang. In formal writing it was frowned upon to use clichés or slang terms. Now, that I have graduated I am free to use whichever terms will help me get my point across.

9.   Emotion. I am no longer restricted by having to remain objective. I am allowed to connect with my readers and show my empathy and emotions for them.

10.  Headings. In writing my school papers I often wrote headlines and sub-headlines to keep myself organized by they rarely made it into my final draft. Now that I’m writing online I use headlines frequently to emphasize my main points. Headlines and sub-headlines tell my readers the main points I’m trying to get across.

Writing for teachers and professors has helped me hone my writing skills. Most importantly I have developed good spelling and grammar skills. There are still some elements of my style that I have had to throw out the window if I expect people to read my writing online. What parts of formal writing have you forgotten, or ignored, now that you’re writing for the web?

~Megan

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Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Capturing Audience, Descriptive Writing, Editors, Education Strategy, Narrative Writing, Resumes, Revising & Proofreading, Web Writers, Writing Careers

Useful Skills That English Majors Have

My Web Writersgrad photo

Any English major will hear, or has heard, this question, “English, what can you do with that degree?” The short answer is; just about anything! Here’s why the skills that you learn with an English degree are transferable to any career. These same skills are also in high demand with employers.

The Skills an English Degree Gives You

Analytical Reading. If you can analyze a complex poem or novel, there is nothing that you can’t analyze. You also have the ability to present your analysis to others, either in written or verbal form.

Research. There is always a demand for ability to research and clearly present the results to others. With good research skills you are also able to effectively argue and defend any position.

Organization. Not only are you capable of organizing your desk; you are capable of organizing your ideas and supporting information. Organization of thought is needed to write any paper.

Articulate Writing. No English majors leave school without a few hundred pages of writing under their belts. All of this practice helps to make a more articulate writer. In order to write articulately you have to have a good grasp on grammar and spelling, as well as good ideas.

Creative Thinking. After reading though many creative works, you begin to think creatively. You can observe situations and think in directions that are unexpected.

Find many more skills that come with an English degree.

Skills Employers Want from Writers

Communication Skills. This is the most common skill that employers are looking for and is exactly what an English degree gives you. English classes focus on all three methods of communication; listening, speaking and writing. All of these are needed in any workplace.

Analytical and Research Skills. Employers are looking for someone who can look at a problem and solve it, bringing in other information if it’s needed. Both of these skills are honed with every research paper you wrote as a student.

Computer and Technical Literacy. With more businesses relying on technology it is important to know how to use basic programs like word processing programs and email. Anyone who spends a lot of time writing, like an English major does, will know word processing programs very well.

Flexibility/Managing Multiple Priorities. This means multi-tasking. Students who have successfully balanced a full class load with assignments all due at the same time knows this skill well.

Interpersonal Abilities. Can you work well with others? This is closely related with your verbal communication skills. If you can argue differing viewpoints on a novel without offending anyone then there is a good chance you can do this as well.

Planning/Organizing. Planning is a large part of being organized. As was noted above being organized is one of the many skills that come along with the English degree.

Multicultural Awareness. Workplaces are becoming more diverse and employers need employees who are able to cope with them. Reading about other cultures promotes awareness of them and English majors are well known for their reading skills.

Employers are looking for many diverse job skills. You will find that most of them are similar to the skills that come with an English degree.

So, What Can You Do With an English Degree?

To those who ask, “What can you do with an English degree?” boldly reply, “Anything I want to do!”      ~Megan

Note: Megan is completing her internship with My Web Writers this week and is about to graduate with an English degree  from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana.  Congratulations, Megan!

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Filed under Colleges, Education Strategy, Resumes, Speeches, Web Writers, Women Writers

How Do I Become a Writer?

By My Web Writers

Photo by Virginia Hammer

Photo by Virginia Hammer

Ernest Hemingway allegedly quipped, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Writing is a hard, often frustrating processes. Nonetheless, for those with the talent and the desire to write, there isn’t much more rewarding. To become a writer, you’ll need more than talent and practice, you’ll also need to find your niche, join a community of writers, and train yourself in the craft of selling your writing to editors, publishers, and readers.

Finding Your Voice

If you study the lives of great writers, you’ll find that they all practiced their writing. A lot. Work on your writing every day, even if it’s only for a half an hour. As you produce more work, even if it’s not good, you’ll begin to notice the techniques you’re really good at and those that still need more practice. More importantly, you’ll begin to learn what your voice sounds like as a writer.

What type of writer you want to be will determine how you practice your writing. Different types of writing careers demand different conventions and styles. For example, if you want to write essays and articles for magazines, read the best magazines out there (The New Yorker, TIME, or major titles in your fields of interest) and study what makes a great article. Then practice. Do research, conduct interviews, and commit yourself to writing an article a week. That way you’ll train your voice and produce a solid portfolio of pieces to pitch to possible employers and editors.

If you want to write poems, books, or other literature, keep up with new titles and trends in contemporary publishing. Learn what is selling currently and consider how your unique voice fits in or fills a gap. Produce a poem, short story, or chapter a week and continue to revise.

Blogging can function as a way to practice and train these skills, too. Post new work to your blog at least on a weekly basis (the more frequently the better), network with other bloggers, and get feedback on your work. (Check out our tips about making your blog a brand.) Focus your blog on demonstrating your particular genre or style of writing. That way you can both work on your craft and on making a name for yourself.

Writers’ Communities

An essential part of developing a writing career is an active writers’ community. One of your most valuable resources is the feedback of other people. Other writers will be able to give you better insights than someone who isn’t thinking critically about writing (or someone who loves you, like your mom). Search your area for local workshop groups or find an online writing buddy. For those striving for a literary career, one of the best ways to really develop your writing is to enroll in an M.A. or M.F.A program in creative writing. These days many successful journalists also have a Master’s degree. Whether you’re already in school, or thinking about enrollment, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference is an excellent resource. Their annual conference draws thousands of writers from across the country to network, workshop, and have fun.

Find Your Audience: Writing is a Business Too

Though a lot about writing has changed since Hemingway sat down at his typewriter, the basic skills for turning your creative passion into a publication or a career continue to hinge on your ability to sell your writing. Writing is an art, but it’s also a business. In addition to daily practice of your writing, you’ll need to learn how to write a query letter in order to find an agent or a job. If your aim is a literary career, practice writing queries, synopsis, and sample chapters. Hand them out to writers in your workshop group and ask them if they’d buy the project you’re pitching. The Literary Marketplace is your guide to finding agents and places to publish. If your goal is a freelance or marketing career, check out our list of  Job Sites for Copy Writers. In the meantime, keep up with that blog to maintain your online presence.

To become a writer you’ll need to figure out how your voice contributes to the existing marketplace or field. What makes your writing worth reading? Continue to practice what makes your work unique as well as strengthening the areas where your writing is weak. Developing an awareness of what your writing offers is a key way to selling your writing in query letters and manuscripts. ~Kasey

Good luck!

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Filed under Content Job Boards, Editors, Resumes, Time Management, Web Writers, Women Writers, Writing Careers, Writing Contests

Ten Organizations for Women with Careers in Writing

Women in writing

Photo by Ed Yourdon.

By My Web Writers

Historically, writing has been a popular career for women, providing both flexible commitments, creative expression, and financial benefit. Writing, however, can be a hard career to break into and writers often rely on community to help develop their careers and find support. Today, there are plenty of organizations for women with careers in writing. Check out these organizations to find a writing community that fits your field and aspirations.

National Organizations

The International Women’s Writing Guild “is a network for the personal and professional empowerment of women through writing and open to all regardless of portfolio.” Since 1976, the organization has worked to support women’s writing through conferences, connections to journals and agents, and writer’s retreats.

The Contemporary Women’s Writing Association supports both the creative efforts of women writers as well as the academic study of women’s writing. The association publishes a journal featuring articles about women writers since the 1970s and holds an annual conference of women’s writers and academics.

A Room of Her Own, inspired by the pivotal Virginia Woolf book, the organization strives to “ build a community of moral support and practical resources designed to inspire, facilitate, and encourage women writers and artists.” AROHO offers grants and awards for women writers as well as an annual retreat and conference for women writers to network and take a break to revive their creative energy.

Academic Societies

If you’re interested in the study of women writers, there are also many academic organizations that celebrate female authors and artists. You can visit conferences to learn more about the herstory of women’s writing and become involved by writing your own articles for presentation too. The British Women’s Writers Conference focuses on writers from across the pond while the Society for the Study of American Women Writers engages with the writing of women in the States. The conference meets annually, promotes new publications, and is “committed to diversity in the study of American women writers — racial, ethnic, gender, class, sexual orientation, region, and era — as well as of scholars participating in the Society.” Additionally, many other academic conferences have divisions for discussing the writing of women.

Online Communities

There are also many organizations online for women writers to find community and resources for continuing to work on their careers.

She Writes offers webinars, forums, and resources for women writers to network with one another and form writers’ communities to work on their writing and pursue publication. The organization also includes a press to support the self-publication of women writers. She writes is an especially strong platform for women from various careers and levels of achievement to connect with one another, making it a strong tool for networking and self-education.

Women Writers, Women, Books is an online literary journal dedicated to promoting the work of contemporary women writers. In addition to publishing the journal, the site also features new books by women writers and features about how to get published.

Wow! Women on Writing is an e-zine that focuses on writing careers and women writers. The site offers a plethora of articles about writing as well as on-line seminars about different writing careers and techniques.

The Smart Women’s Institute also offers courses on starting a writing career. The organization, touted by Woman Entrepreneur, NPR, CBS, and other national outlets, the site provides free tools, books, and coaching to help women launch successful careers in writing.

Look Locally

Many communities have workshops and associations for writers. Check your area for a writer’s community you could join. You might have a long-standing organization right in your back yard. For example, over the last thirty years, the Madwomen in the Attic workshop series has been providing a forum for women in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to share their writing and get feedback and support from one another. The workshop also provides opportunities for writers to do public readings of their work.

My Web Writers is a woman-owned company that features the work of many female writers. Use your local resources to find out what companies in your area might also promote the work of women in the field of writing.

If you’re a woman writer looking to start or continue to develop a career, you might also be interested in our tips on how to manage your writing career or information on different careers for word lovers. You can turn your hobby into a career while continuing to hone your craft. ~Kasey

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Filed under Conferences, Content Job Boards, Editors, Leadership, Resumes, Women Writers, Writing Careers, Writing Contests

Marketing in Resumes

by My Web Writers

During lunch today a friend and I were speaking about resumes. The discussion led to proper ways to market yourself on paper. I immediately thought about my work as a content writer selling products.

Selling products, much like selling yourself to future employees, is a process that takes time and needs careful consideration. Whether writing your resume or content for a client, try these tips for successful marketing:

Choose exciting action verbs that describe your skills.
o Words such as “has” or “worked” don’t intrigue readers. Try words such as “developed”, “trained”, “earned”, “collaborated”, or “produced” to hook the reader and keep him or her interested in you or what you’re selling.

Use at least three details about yourself or tips about the product you’re selling.
o Explain and describe how your skills or products are valuable. If you give your reader some ideas of how to use what you’re selling (i.e. yourself or products), they’ll be more interested in it and your creativity.

Keep the word count down (limit yourself to one line per skill)
o When marketing yourself: Interviews are short and employers don’t have time to read three pages about you. Tell them what they would need to know if there was no interview. Let them use interview time to follow up with further questions.
o When marketing products: Remember that no one has time to read pages of reviews or descriptions. Give a glimpse of product ideas that cover different types of uses.

First impressions are important. Resumes say a lot about you and your abilities. It’s crucial that you take some time to think about what you want people to know about yourself professionally. Follow the above tips to help guide you through the process and remember My Web Writers is only a call or click away.

~Lauren

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