The Resume Secrets We Tell Our Friends and Family

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The Grammar Chic, Inc. resume writing team provides professional insights and editorial assistance to jobseekers across the country, day in and day out. As you might imagine, though, the questions about proper resume construction don’t end when we clock out for the day. Friends and family members, aware of what we do for a living, are constantly asking us to offer a little free advice—and naturally, we are all too happy to comply.

So what exactly do we tell them? Do we give them the straight dope—insights we’d withhold from paying customers? Not at all. We really just reveal the basic pointers we work by throughout the day. If you’re curious to know the truly important resume writing tips we give to family and friends, we’ll summarize the main ones for you.

Don’t Use Any Words You Can’t Easily Define and Explain.

Are you a “dynamic” employee? That’s great—but what exactly does it mean? What would you say if you were in a job interview and the interviewer asked you what the word meant to you? If you don’t have a ready answer, then it’s best not to include it in the resume—because it’s probably just too vague to be useful. This goes for any resume buzzword or cliché that doesn’t communicate specific, definable value.

 Show. Don’t Tell.

This is one of the oldest storytelling pointers in the book—and it’s very relevant as you tell the story of your career and your professional value. Don’t tell employers that you’re hard-working, motivated, or team-oriented. Anyone can say these things. Show that you’re hard-working, motivated, and team-oriented by including actual anecdotes or results you achieved, proving that you possess these traits.

Focus on Outcomes and Achievements.

On a related note, listing all your job responsibilities is easy enough—and not unimportant. The truly great resumes go beyond mere responsibilities, though, to also encompass achievements—awards won, measurable results achieved, changes implemented, progress made. Incorporate numbers whenever you can to prove that you’re an effective employee.

Everybody Knows What Your Objective Is.

You’re trying to get a job. Skip this section in favor of an Executive Summary.

White Space Matters.

Not every inch of your resume needs to be covered in words, and in fact, a resume that’s just wall-to-wall text is going to be a major turn-off to employers. White space matters: Give your words room to breathe, and the hiring manager an easy way to skim through your resume and focus on bullet points.

None of this advice is new, but it does have the advantage of being true—and, for jobseekers, utterly important. To learn more about proper resume construction, please contact us today: Visit http://www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444.

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7 Telltale Signs of Awful Blog Content

 

lede-awfulHave you ever been on Google, seen a link that looked interesting, clicked it—and then immediately hit the “back” button, repulsed by what you saw on the page? It happens sometimes, and the culprit is usually bad content, plain and simple. As a consumer, you tend to know bad content when you see it—but do you ever stop to evaluate your own content, checking it for the telltale signs of awfulness?

When it comes to your own blog content—blog content you’ve slaved over, devoted your precious time to—noting awfulness can be a bit trickier. We’re here to help. Painful though this may be, we’re going to offer up seven of the surest signs that your content is whack, and encourage you to evaluate what you’ve created on your company blog, being honest with yourself about whether it might be, well, bad, and in need of repair.

Sign #1: Your content is badly formatted.

When you open a blog entry on your company blog, do you see bullet points, subheadings, images, and white space? Do you, at the very least, see brief paragraphs with wiggle room left between them? Or do you just see one huge mountain of text, daunting and all but impossible to read without developing a migraine or having your eyes glaze over? Remember that good content isn’t just about the words, but how they’re presented. Formatting matters! Readability matters!

Sign #2: Your content is jammed with keywords.

Nobody ever said that some strategic keywords were bad or inappropriate—but if the blog entries for your Charlotte dental practice all contain the phrases “Charlotte dentist” and “best Charlotte dental practice” ten times apiece—well, it’s pretty obvious what you’re trying to do, and, again, readability is significantly compromised. Nobody wants to read your keyword litanies. Nobody.

Sign #3: Your content is jammed with links.

Including some relevant links to related articles or online resources: Recommended! Jamming your 500-word post with 30 different lines, of varying levels of relevance? Not so much! If you click on a post and just see a wall of blue, hyperlinked text, it’s a major red flag.

Sign #4: You’re being too promotional.

Content marketing is all about educating and informing—selling without being too hammy, salesy, and promotional. If you’ve already talked about how great your brand is three or four times within the first two paragraphs of your post, well, your priorities may be askew.

Sign #5: You’re not being promotional enough.

With that said, you do need to make it easy for interested parties to get ahold of you to ask questions or ask for your help. A post without a good call-to-action at the end isn’t going to prove very effective!

Sign #6: Your content is full of spelling and grammar mistakes.

Need we go on?

Sign #7: The post just scrolls on forever.

There’s much to be said in favor of long-form blog content, to a reasonable extent—but nobody has time to read a 3,000 word opus about your company, its products and services, or even the industry at large. Restraint is a key skill for bloggers, and an overly long post is, as often as not, a bad one, or at least an ineffective one.

So tell us: How do your blogs measure up? If you need assistance with them, please contact the Grammar Chic, Inc. team today at 803-831-7444, or http://www.grammarchic.net.

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What to Do When Nobody’s Reading Your Content

reading

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody’s around, does it make a sound? And if you produce unique, compelling content for your business but nobody reads it, does it make a difference? We’ll tell you the answer to the second question—and it’s a resounding no. For all the hype out there about the SEO benefits of content creation, the truth is that content only benefits your company if it’s engaging enough to be digested and shared by human readers.

If you’re looking over your analytic reports and you find that all that content you slaved over is failing to win the attention of readers, then—if the average person hits the page and then navigates away in under five seconds—then you’ve got a significant problem on your hands. It is not, however, an insurmountable one. Try these five troubleshooting techniques and see if they don’t turn things around.

1. Keep at It!

One of the most important components of content creation is consistency; you need to be present for your readers, showing up with new content on a regular basis. That’s a big part of what generates reader loyalty, and keeps them coming back for more. When your content isn’t getting read, then, the answer isn’t to go away but to keep plugging away at it—retooling and refining some things, perhaps, but not throwing in the towel or slackening in your content creation pace.

2. Play Around

Speaking of retooling: There’s an old saying that if it ain’t broke, you don’t fix it—but what if your content is broke? What if the reason it isn’t getting read is that it just doesn’t click with readers, for whatever reason? When your content isn’t being read, you might seize the opportunity to just start playing around a bit—toying with the post length, format, topic, and voice. Keep tabs on your analytics to see if anything seems to work, or if anything just falls flat. Experiment, and track your results.

3. Change Topics

Certainly, the topic itself is a big decider in whether people read your content or take a pass. If you’re not getting readers, it may be that you just don’t have useful, actionable topics to address. See what your successful industry peers and competitors are writing about, and try to emulate them in your own content marketing endeavors.

4. Check the Format

Then again, your lack of readership may have less to do with topic and more to do with the formatting. Perhaps you’re posting too many big blocks of text, and could stand to break things up with bullet points. Perhaps your content is presented in a way that’s just not appealing—as a straightforward article rather than as a how-to guide or a tutorial. Play with the formatting of your posts and see if that sparks any additional interest.

5. Share

Finally—and forgive us if we’re stating the obvious—you may be lacking readers because you’re just not sharing your content effectively. Use your social channels to get the word out about your content; post your most recent blog, for example, on different social channels on different times and different days, ensuring it’s seen by as many people as possible.

If that doesn’t work, you may need a full content marketing overhaul—and the Grammar Chic, Inc. team can deliver it. Contact us today at www.grammarchic.net, or by calling 803-831-7444.

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6 Ways Facebook is Hurting Your Job Search

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It’s been said before that what you post on Facebook can ultimately determine the efficacy of your job search—that in many cases, what you post (or even what you don’t post) can cost you a job you might otherwise have landed. Consider this, though: According to a recent study, reported by Inside Facebook, a staggering 77 percent of all employers use Facebook to find candidates, while more than 20 percent will scrutinize Facebook profiles in order to screen candidates. Given these statistics, it is surely worth saying again: When you’re searching for employment, you must be careful about what you do or say on Facebook.

What exactly are some of the ways in which your Facebook profile can impede your career progress? According to our Grammar Chic, Inc. professional services team, some of the primary problems with a given Facebook profile include:

  • You’re too negative. It’s reasonable to assume that, if you’re in the market for a new job, you’re on some level unsatisfied where you currently work, and may even be downright unhappy there. That doesn’t give you license to take to Facebook and complain about your current employer, though. Employers need to see that you can be a positive member of their workforce, and a true team player—so complaining on Facebook is a huge turnoff.
  • You exhibit poor communication skills. Do u rite like this on FB? It could be trouble 4 your job search! Yes, Facebook is meant to be fun and casual on some level, but employers need to see some evidence that you can communicate in a professional and sophisticated way. Don’t give them reason to think otherwise.
  • You’re lying about your qualifications. This might sound obvious, but: Employers will surely take note of any contradictions between your resume and your Facebook profile. If you say on your resume that you have an advanced degree from a big-name school, but your Facebook profile only lists a two-year degree—well, that could be a warning sign. This isn’t necessarily a matter of lying on your profile, either; your career prospects may be hurt simply because you are incomplete or less-than-thorough in filling out your profile.
  • You post about drinking or taking drugs. We’re not here to judge you, but many employers will look down on you for this kind of thing—simple as that.
  • You post discriminatory comments. This is another thing that may seem obvious, and you may think nobody would ever do this—but statistics show that employers routinely weed out job candidates because they post offensive or inflammatory things on Facebook.
  • You don’t exhibit true professional depth. All of these potential pitfalls might make you think you’re better off just making your profile private—but not so fast: You can get a leg up on your competition by using Facebook to share insights or articles that relate to your line of work, thus proving that you’re serious about it and invested in it. In other words, you can use Facebook as a platform for proving your knowledge and your competence—which can make you that much more attractive to potential employers.

Facebook is what you make of it—and for jobseekers, it is important to make Facebook into a true competitive advantage. To learn more, we invite you to contact the Grammar Chic team today: Visit www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444.

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Content Marketing Lessons from This Year’s Emmy Nominees

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Grammar Chic has a long and distinguished (humor us) history of gleaning content marketing lessons from popular TV entities; see previous entries on Mad Men, HBO, and Netflix for further evidence. It goes without saying, then, that, as TV approaches its biggest night—the Primetime Emmy Awards—we can’t help but make a few stray observations.

Certainly, there are several entries in this year’s list of nominees that illustrate key concepts in content marketing. Read on, and we’ll show you what we mean.

Content Marketing and This Year’s Hottest Shows

For your consideration…

  • First, this year’s Emmy nominations make it as clear as can be that it’s imperative to embrace new media. There was a time when all the major Emmy nominees came from major TV networks, with cable networks—to say nothing of services like Netflix—never even registering as serious contenders. This year, though, the changes to the media landscape seem to have solidified: The shows nominated for Outstanding Drama Series include Breaking Bad and Mad Men (both on AMC), True Detective and Game of Thrones (both HBO), and Netflix’s House of Cards; PBS is represented with Downton Abbey, but none of the major networks have a foot in the door at all. Old media may not be dead—and shows like The Good Wife suggest that traditional television can still be amply rewarding—but content marketers need to recognize that the landscape is fundamentally shifting. People are consuming their content differently, and that’s not going to change.
  • Another thing this year’s Emmy nods teach us: Categories are only so useful. Would you consider Orange is the New Black to be a drama, or a comedy? What about Shameless? The latter show was nominated as a drama last year but comedy this year; the former is simply hard for any of us to pin down. Meanwhile, American Horror Story was submitted as a mini-series while True Detective was submitted as a regular series, despite both having the same basic structure. All of this is just to say that categories are only so useful, and shrewd content marketers are comfortable thinking beyond them—offering unique and compelling content that educates and informs but doesn’t necessarily fit into any readymade box.
  • We have said this before, but it’s worth repeating: Being provocative and controversial can be a good thing. Consider the nominations this year for Masters of Sex, which titillates with its very title, and for the shocking conclusion of Breaking Bad. We’re not saying content marketers should try to offend people, but being unorthodox is never a bad thing.
  • A final lesson: There is something to be said for nostalgia. An old adage about the Emmys is that the best way to get nominated for an award is to have been nominated before, and that certainly seems true from this year’s list, which suggests a lot of nostalgia votes for shows like Homeland, The Newsroom, and even for Margo Martindale’s turn on The Americans. Emmy voters like what they know, to some extent—and that’s true of your content consumers, as well. Shock value is great, but so is tapping into their sense of the familiar.

Have you noticed any content marketing principles exemplified in current shows? Let us know in the comments! Also feel free to contact Grammar Chic, Inc. with any content marketing inquiries: Visit www.grammarchic.net and call 803-831-7444.

 

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5 Reasons Your Website Isn’t Converting

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In theory, your business website should be a 24/7 sales machine. Customers and potential customers should be able to access the site at any time, educate themselves about the value you provide, and ultimately order a product or service right then and there—or at the very least, be able to reach out to you by e-mail or by phone to set up a consultation, or to ask for more information.

Would you say this is true of your business website? Is your website like a highly productive sales representative—or does it just sort of sit there, an online placeholder for your company?

An even more telling question: What happens with the traffic your website receives? Do you get a lot of visitors who turn into full-fledged, paying customers—or do you find that your website simply does a poor job of converting leads into actual sales?

If your website isn’t converting, there’s got to be a reason for it—and it’s probably one of these:

  • If your website isn’t converting, it could be because you’re not offering real value. We say this all the time, but it’s important: Many business websites are conceived with the notion that the site needs to be all about the business, telling the business’ full story in play-by-play detail, when in reality the website needs to focus on the consumer. Think about it from your customers’ perspective: What kinds of value can you offer to them? What benefits do they receive from ordering your products or enlisting your services? What solutions can you offer to their problems? Those are the things to focus on with your small business website.
  • Your website may not be converting because you’re not educating. In addition to offering value, your site also needs to offer perspective. You need to address common inquiries that customers have about your products—are they easy to use, cost-effective, etc.? What are their applications? What is the customer process like at your company, and what should a client expect when he or she does business with you?
  • Another reason your website isn’t converting: You’re talking to the wrong people. Who are your clients? What are their problems, and their values? How can you ensure that your website is targeted to their needs? This is where buyer personas might come in handy.
  • Your website may not be converting because you lack compelling calls to action. You can’t just assume that people will pick up the phone to call you; you have to ask them to. You should have a compelling call to action on every page of your site.
  • Finally, if your website isn’t converting, it may be something as simple as a lack of contact information. You need to make it as easy as possible for people to place an order, or to ask you questions about what you do. Do you have company contact information on every page of your site? Is it complete and up-to-date?

Need more help troubleshooting your company website? Reach out to the Grammar Chic, Inc. team today: Call 803-831-7444, or visit http://www.grammarchic.net.

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4 ‘About Us’ Page Myths

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Spend any time at all browsing small business websites and you’ll quickly realize that not all websites are created equal—and neither are all ‘About Us’ pages. That’s very much as it should be. After all, every small business is unique, so why wouldn’t every ‘About Us’ page be, too? Taking a cookie-cutter approach to your company’s ‘About Us’ page will only obscure what makes your business special.

With that said, there are certainly some general policies to follow—and some blunders to avoid. Unfortunately, not all ‘About Us’ pages are written with these best practices in mind. In fact, there are some pieces of conventional ‘About Us’ wisdom that may actually hurt your brand identity more than they help it—and we’ve rounded up four of them, below.

1. Your ‘About Us’ page is, well, about you!

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Despite its name, the ‘About Us’ page isn’t supposed to be entirely or even mostly about your company. On the contrary, a good ‘About Us’ page is just as much about your customers—and about the benefits they receive when they do business with you.

Your customers don’t need to know the full, play-by-play history of your brand. They want to know why they should care. They want to know what’s in it for them.

2. Your ‘About Us’ page needs to be lengthy and thorough.

On a related note, it is often believed that an ‘About Us’ page needs to be a fairly heavy and wordy document, and it’s probably true that it will be one of the larger sections of your website. Again, though, remember why you’re really writing it: To exhibit the benefits you offer to customers and clients. Try to make those points fairly directly; nobody has time to read a 2,000-word (or even a 1,000-word) ‘About Us’ section.

3. Your ‘About Us’ page should be highly personal.

Actually, this isn’t entirely a myth. Your ‘About Us’ page should serve to humanize your business; you might talk about who started the company, and why. You should definitely underscore your company’s values and principles. However, you shouldn’t use it as an excuse to tell your life story, or to veer too far off course from that central idea of sharing the benefits your company can provide.

4. Your ‘About Us’ page needs a Mission Statement, a list of Company Values, a set of Corporate Goals, etc.

There is nothing wrong with any of these things—not if they’re specific and convey something meaningful about your business. The problem is when companies think they have to have these things, and shoehorn them into their ‘About Us’ page, or else spout off a bunch of vague corporate-speak that offers little value to the consumers. If you have a great company Mission Statement, include it! If not, forget it.

In need of further ‘About Us’ page insights? Contact Grammar Chic, Inc. today: Visit www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444.

 

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