Are You Sabotaging Your Own Job Search?

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What might seem like a great job search strategy at the time can prove to be less than productive down the road. In fact, what seems like a smart approach might actually be doing you more harm than good.

That’s a tough thing for jobseekers to hear. Searching for employment is, after all, a rather daunting and even discouraging thing, and it can be hard to figure out what’s right and what’s not amidst the sea of job search advice.

Nevertheless, it’s important to ensure that what you’re doing is as smart and as pragmatic as you think it is—and to remove from your job search arsenal any tactics that are counterproductive.

Casting a Wide Net

A great example of this is the practice of sending out as many resumes as you possibly can—applying for any job opening you come across that fits in with your particular skill set, even tangentially.

This sounds good in theory. Positioning yourself as a multi-capable professional, generally skilled and up for any challenge, sure sounds like something employers would like. Only, it isn’t. Employers tend to be searching for a very precise set of skills and personality traits—and “general” isn’t one of them.

Taking the shotgun approach to job hunting isn’t really effective, then, because you’re essentially using all your time applying for jobs you’re highly unlikely to get, or even to interview for. A more honed, focused approach is preferable.

Being Perfectly Agreeable

It might also seem like a good idea to come across as perfectly positive and good-natured in job interviews—and certainly, you want to be even-tempered, friendly, and personable. Remember that interviewers aren’t just looking for skills, but also for cultural fit.

However, you don’t want to be even-tempered to the point of being unengaged. When you’re given an opportunity to ask some questions about the company, make sure that you do so. Show that you care, that you’re engaged in the process, and that you’re not simply desperate to take any job that’s available to you.

Playing it Too Cool

An opposite approach is to play it so cool in a job interview that you don’t even let on that you want the job. Here’s where some balancing will be necessary. You don’t want to come across as desperate, it’s true—but neither do you want to come across as disinterested.

This is especially so when you’re interviewing at a small business or a startup. Remember that this is the business owner’s baby that you’re talking about. The person you’re interviewing with likely wants to see some real enthusiasm—not mere detachment.

Getting Too Creative with Your Resume

Finally, remember that the best way to stand out is to be outstanding—not to be weird, different, or “creative.” This is especially true when it comes to resumes. Many jobseekers believe that the best way to draw attention is to do something out of the ordinary with their resumes—but recruiters and hiring managers want the ordinary format, to some extent, and don’t have much patience for outside-the-box styles or templates.

If you need help constructing an attention-grabbing—but not off-putting—resume, our team is standing by. Contact Grammar Chic, Inc. at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444!

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Don’t Let These Content Marketing Myths Hold You Back

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What you don’t know about content marketing can hurt you—or at the very least, hold you back.

At Grammar Chic, Inc., we are constantly talking with small business owners about their own content marketing endeavors—and are sometimes surprised at the sheer number of businesses that have yet to really jump on the content marketing bandwagon. What’s frustrating is that the reasons for holding off on content marketing are usually pretty flimsy—based on myth rather than fact.

Let us give you some examples of what we’re talking about here.

All your content has to be long, thorough, and highly polished.

We’ve all seen the companies whose blog entries top a thousand words, and come loaded with compelling, original images and videos. That’s an intimidating standard to reach for, and the good news is you don’t have to. Just think about your content marketing goals. Are you trying to educate your readers on a specific topic, and can you do it in 400 words? Then that’s really all you need. A nice image is a plus, and video never hurts, but if you think every blog post has to be a magnum opus then you’re simply going to be paralyzed when you really need to take action.

I don’t know enough about content marketing to make it work.

Believe it or not, content marketing doesn’t require a high level of technical expertise, especially not if you team with a company like Grammar Chic, Inc. Yes, it’s good if you know the basics of social media and analytic reporting programs, but what maters most is that you have a clear understanding of your business and of your customers. If you can identify their needs, and the solutions you can offer, then you’ve got the crux of a good content marketing plan.

Content marketing will eat into all of your time.

It’s true enough that content marketing takes a real time commitment—but it’s just as true that you can organize your campaign with an editorial calendar to ensure maximum efficiency; that you can outsource the work to seriously cut back on your needed involvement; and that you can actually do much to boost your content marketing efforts in just 90 minutes’ time!

You won’t be able to measure the ROI of your content marketing.

This is one of the oldest content marketing myths in the book. You likely won’t see an overnight result from your content marketing, but over time there will be many measurable, discernable benefits—increased website traffic, more social media engagement, and—most significantly, albeit most esoterically—clients and customers who are better educated and more trusting of your brand.

So now you tell us: What’s holding you back from content marketing? We’d love to talk with you about it, and to offer our services however we can. Reach out to us today at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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A 7-Point Checklist for Your New Business Blog

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Another holiday season brings with it the promise of a new year; new opportunities; new marketing endeavors; and, for many small business owners, a new blog.

We all know by now that companies need blogs to thrive in today’s marketing environment; that the production of original content is crucial for obtaining online visibility, and that a blog is really the best avenue for doing so.

Still, not all companies have gotten on the blogging bandwagon; some are looking to finally start blogging in earnest, while others may need a fresh start after previous, failed attempts at effective blogging.

For any small business looking to launch a new blog in the near future, it’s obviously important to be strategic, disciplined, and thorough in your approach. What exactly do you need to ensure that your new business blog is a success? If you’ve got all seven items on our new blog checklist, then you’ve got a good foundation and every chance in the world of making your blog a winner.

Our new blog checklist includes:

  1. A clearly-defined set of goals. As we’ve discussed before, there are many potential goals for you to set with your content marketing, all of them legitimate. What matters is that you think them through and decide on clear, measurable objectives—whether it’s increased website traffic, brand visibility, conversions, or simply consumer trust.
  2. The definition of roles. Who’s going to be updating your blog? Who’s writing, who’s posting, and who’s responding to comments? Maybe it’s the business owner, maybe it’s an intern, maybe it’s someone else—but having a defined chain of command is important.
  3. A blog host and domain. There are pros and cons associated with having your blog hosted on your website versus having it as its own separate site; the former will offer some SEO clout for your website, and generally make navigation easier, while the latter provides you with an entirely separate online asset that can be useful for online reputation management and general visibility.
  4. In keeping with the previous point, though, your blog must be accessible. People should know how to get to it without any trouble; make a link to your blog clearly visible from your company website—preferably above the fold—and, if possible, from every other page of your site, as well.
  5. An attractive layout. Your blog also needs a good, clean, uncluttered look—consistent with the look and feel of your website, and easy to navigate and to search.
  6. Before you launch or publicize your blog, make sure to have at least three or four posts written and posted, so you’ve got a good foundation for the start of the blog.
  7. An editorial calendar. Finally, make sure you’ve planned when and how often your blog will be updated, and that you’ve got an editorial calendar set up, denoting your next couple week’s worth of posts (if not more).

For assistance checking off any of these boxes, of course, the Grammar Chic team is available. Contact us today at www.grammarchic.net, or at 803-831-7444.

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Spruce Up Your Website for the Holiday Season

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Look: We understand that it’s only now mid-November… that Thanksgiving is still a couple weeks away, and for some of us Christmas seems pretty far off. Never mind that the malls already have their garlands and their Christmas music, that store shelves are fully stocked with yuletide candies and toys. Some may not be quite ready to think about the holiday season just yet, and that’s fine…

… unless you happen to be a small business owner. In which case, now is the time to start planning your holiday marketing and promotional campaigns. And that includes sprucing up your website.

There are plenty of ways to get your website holiday-ready, but most of them are going to require just a bit of advance planning—whether you do your website yourself or have a separate developer. Thus, if you want to have a website that pulls out all the stops and makes a big, festive splash, the time to build it is now.

We’ll recommend just a few possible avenues:

  • Remember that over the holidays, your visitors are going to have less time and more distractions than normal. They won’t necessarily have as much eagerness to peruse your full website—so make your point, and make it quick. Ensure that you have a strong call to action above the fold. Make e-mail sign-ups and social media buttons numerous, and highly visible.
  • One way to stand out, and to encourage users to dig deeper into your site, is to implement a carousel—a section of the site that has different images and text that rotate, each screen showing a different product or section of your site. It will take some work to get one up and running, but this can be a great way to showcase everything your business has to offer, even to those who are pressed for time.
  • Emphasize time sensitivity and urgency. Make prominent mention of holiday sales, noting their end dates. Also publicize when you need to receive orders to ensure delivery by Christmas Eve.
  • Offer some kind of a “bonus,” to entice customers to buy from you and not your competitor—or at least, to keep you in the running. Free shipping is an obvious one. Even if you always offer free shipping, make special note of it over the holidays.
  • Change your site color schemes to festive colors, or create some holiday-themed graphics or banners to include on your site. Help your customers get into the spirit of the season, and see if that doesn’t make them a bit more willing to spend money with you!

Really, anything you do to optimize your site for the holiday season is going to prove helpful to you—so get planning! And for more advice, don’t hesitate to contact Grammar Chic at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Ramp Up Your E-mail Marketing for the Holiday Season

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Business owners, have you ever found yourself thinking: I should really send out a marketing e-mail to all the people on my e-mail list—but is now the best time?

When it comes to e-mail marketing, timing is certainly an important concern—but we’re here to tell you: The time to get busy with e-mail marketing is now.

The holiday season is fast approaching. People are shopping. They’re working to meet their year-end goals. They’re spending money. Their inboxes are becoming full with special offers, promotions, and ads—and you definitely want to have your brand right there in the mix.

How can small businesses make the most of their e-mail marketing efforts over the holiday season? Read on for some tips from the Grammar Chic, Inc. team.

  • Grab your readers with a compelling headline! And keep experimenting with different subject lines right up until the end of the season. Divide your e-mail list into two or three groups, and send each group an e-mail with a different subject line. If one works resoundingly well, it’s worth reusing with the other groups; you might also keep it in mind as a template for future e-mails.
  • Remember, though, not to use spammy words in your subject lines! Our thoughts on typical spam words can be found in this post. Note that holiday marketing clichés—Cyber Monday or Black Friday sales, for instance—will also get your messages tossed in with the spam. Avoid using those terms in your subject line.
  • Make your e-mails top-heavy. Busy shoppers, receiving your e-mail on their iPhone or Blackberry, aren’t going to have the time or the patience to read 500 words of copy. Include the most significant information right there in the subject line and in the first two or three lines of text. The less scrolling people have to do to get to the point of your e-mail, the better.
  • As ever, content is king. The best e-mails will have some eye-catching imagery—perhaps holiday-themed—paired with some brief but value-adding content. Make note of holiday promos and sales, and perhaps link to just a couple of your company blogs, as well.
  • Don’t forget your call to action! It’s always essential, and at the holidays more than ever.

E-mail marketing should really be a year-round pursuit, of course, but there’s no time like the present to jump in or to redouble your efforts. To learn more, contact our team today at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Don’t Stress About Your Job Search

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Let’s begin with the obvious: Searching for a new job is stressful.

This is true even when you’re currently employed, balancing the demands of your nine-to-five with an after-hours quest on online job boards, or covert discussions with your recruiter or career coach.

It’s even truer when you don’t have a job at all—and when your need for employment begins to feel downright desperate.

To some extent, searching for work is always going to be stressful. On another level, though, it’s about as stressful as you care to make it. You cannot control every facet of your job search, of course, but there’s plenty you can do to manage and mitigate stress.

  • One thing you should always, always, always do is take care of yourself. Work out. Devote an hour each day to running or going to the gym. Eat right, too, and don’t use unemployment as an excuse to fall into bad habits, such as the consumption of junk food. When you feel well, you’ll be better able to deal with stressful experiences and conflicting emotions; feeling run-down, crummy, or low on energy, meanwhile, will only make that stress more severe.
  • As trivial as it may sound, playing music is a good idea. Music has documented stress-reducing properties, and while you don’t want it to become a distraction, you can at least put on some background tunes while you search online job boards, post to LinkedIn, and so forth.
  • Stay organized. Keep a calendar and a daily planner, outlining all the steps you need to take and all the tasks on your to-do list. Have a folder where you can keep important documents. Treat the job search like you would a full-time job, and ensure that nothing can slip through the cracks—which will ease your mind and alleviate uncertainty.
  • Set small goals for yourself. Your main goal, obviously, is to get a job, but you might also set more minor, day-to-day or week-to-week goals—to follow up with five employers today, to submit ten new applications by Thursday, and so forth.
  • Finally, leave some room for volunteering. Community service is not only great for boosting your morale, but it may even be something that looks good on your resume!

Something else that will reduce stress: Knowing that you have a solid, effective resume to circulate. If that’s what you lack, contact our resume writing team today. Grammar Chic, Inc. can be reached at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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What to Do When Your Blog Bombs

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Writing a post for your company blog is something that requires a certain investment of time; whether it takes you 20 minutes or two hours, it’s time that you might otherwise have spent doing something else, and as such you want to be sure that the time is well-utilized. If your blog post garners you some social media attention or some website traffic—if even one person picks up the phone and calls you because of something you wrote in the post—then it’s all well worth it. But what happens when you post a new company blog and it just kind of…. sits there?

What happens when your blog post bombs?

Not All Blogs are Created Equal

To begin with, understand that this is going to happen from time to time—and in fact, the more often you blog, the more likely it is that you’re going to have some duds and some misfires. It’s just part of the process. There will be blogs that simply land at the wrong time or don’t get seen by the right, interested readers—perhaps through no fault of your own.

Before you write off the blog completely, though, take a day or two to let it sit, then read back through it with fresh eyes. Maybe a bit of distance and perspective will help you identify some ways you could make it better.

  • What’s the value proposition? Reading through it again, can you clearly identify the value your readers are supposed to glean?
  • Is the blog practical? Actionable? Interesting?
  • Does it line up with your buyer personas?
  • Does the headline grab attention?
  • Is it well-formatted with appropriate paragraph and section breaks, bullet points, and images?
  • Is it too long? Is it not long or substantive enough?

Retooling, Redeploying

If you identify some areas in which your blog could be revised and improved, then by all means make those changes. Don’t just leave it there, though. Take to social media to try to drum up some interest in the blog. Post it on LinkedIn, tweet it, pin it—distribute the blog however you deem appropriate.

It is entirely possible that the blog initially bombed because you just posted it at a bad time, or with the wrong hashtags, and it didn’t really penetrate anyone’s newsfeed. Waiting five to seven days, then pushing it out again, can give the blog a new lease on life.

Scrapping and Salvaging

If there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do to make the blog a big hit, don’t worry: Your time hasn’t been wasted. You’ve got a piece of content that you can pick apart for scrap pieces, recycling the content into a new blog post, a press release, a piece of evergreen website content, or simply a few quick tweets. That’s valuable content fodder, so don’t be afraid to hack away at the post and use its pieces wherever and whenever you can.

Of course, if your blogs are consistently underperforming, there may be a systemic issue to address. That’s where we come in. Grammar Chic’s team is ready to help you kick your business blogging to the next level. Inquire about our services today: Call 803-831-7444, or visit http://www.grammarchic.net.

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