5 Job Interview Myths That Can Throw You for a Loop

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Ideal scenario: You arrive at a job interview feeling totally confident. You’re prepared for every question you’re asked, and can provide excellent, thoughtful answers. The interviewer seems excited and impressed. You believe that you and the interviewer have a good, warm rapport. You leave the interview feeling pretty great: You stand a fine chance of getting the job, and if you don’t, well, at least you gave it your all.

Less than ideal scenario: You arrive at a job interview feeling pretty good about yourself, but are caught off guard by the strange, unexpected, or open-ended questions. The interviewer doesn’t seem engaged in your conversation. You quickly lose your confidence, stumble through your answers, and leave feeling defeated and depressed.

What’s the factor that decides which of these two scenarios you end up with? To a large extent, it all comes down to expectations. If you arrive expecting all the wrong things, and aren’t prepared for other contingencies, then you can be thrown off your rhythm and off your A-game.

If, however, you arrive expecting the right things—or better still, you arrive with no particular expectations whatsoever—then you’ll stand a better chance of approaching the situation calmly, coolly, and confidently.

Sadly, many jobseekers show up for an interview and have all the wrong expectations. They’ve believed some of the common job search myths that are out there—and when those myths are revealed to be just that, these jobseekers are left feeling unprepared and panicky.

A good way to prepare for your next job interview, then, is to go over some common interview myths—and to remind yourself that they are, well, exactly that.

Myth #1: You’ll have a good, well-prepared interviewer.

Maybe you will, but then again, maybe you won’t. Your interviewer is surely a busy person, and you can’t rule out the fact that he or she will arrive for the interview harried and unprepared, having not even had time to look over your resume very closely. Be prepared to refresh him or her on key points, and to roll with the interviewer’s potential lack of preparedness.

Also note that not all interviewers ask particularly good questions; you might get something like “so tell me about yourself,” and it’s imperative that you have a good narrative ready.

Myth #2: There’s always a right answer.

Sometimes an interviewer will be more interested in how you handle a high-pressure question than in what your answer is; don’t allow your desperate search for the “right” response to break your composure or to send you into a tailspin of “ums.”

Myth #3: Your answers always need to be short.

The more valuable information you can give the interviewer, the better. If you provide one-sentence answers to everything, it will leave the interviewer to think up still more questions—and they don’t necessarily want to do that.

Myth #4: Your qualifications are what ultimately matter.

Think the most qualified applicant always gets the job? Think again. What interviewers are looking for is someone who will fit into their company culture and prove easy to work with in the long run. Flexibility, friendliness, and enthusiasm can often be just as important as your qualifications, perhaps even more so.

Myth #5: The interviewer wants you to be ambitious.

When you’re asked where you see yourself in five years, the right answer isn’t necessarily that you hope to be climbing the corporate ladder. Interviewers often want to know that you’re looking for a job you can be content with for a long time to come, not merely a stepping stone to something better.

Prepare for your next interview by dispelling these myths from your mind—and be training yourself to expect the unexpected. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Grammar Chic, Inc. team via http://www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Is Content Marketing Here to Stay?

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What will content marketing look like in five years’ time—or for that matter, one year’s time? Will content marketing still exist as we know it, or will changes to the digital marketing world render it unrecognizable or obsolete?

Questions like these are common in online marketing circles, and it’s not hard to understand why. Google’s algorithms change, on average, close to three times per day; the world of social media is in a constant state of flux. This entire enterprise is characterized by how fast it moves, how quickly it changes. It is little wonder that there are so many who are unsure of what its future holds.

These questions are only fair. Here at Grammar Chic, we always tell our content marketing clients that this business is a long-term commitment; not something that offers results overnight, but something that yields its fruit via the steady development of consumer trust and brand authority. If we’re telling people that content marketing is a long-term commitment, it’s only natural for folks to wonder: Will content marketing actually still be here in the long term?

Everything Changes

There has been much ink spilled on the topic of content marketing and its longevity; you can find plenty of articles confirming its long-term viability, and just as many that express skepticism. As for the Grammar Chic take, we’ll offer the caveat that we can’t see the future and don’t have a crystal ball handy. With that said, we have invested heavily in content marketing as an on-going concern, and obviously feel strongly that it’s going to stick around in a recognizable form.

That’s not to say that content marketing won’t change. It’s already changed plenty just in the past couple of years—as it should. Content marketing adapts and evolves, right on pace with changing technologies and shifting consumer trends. In five years, content marketing may be more about video than ever before; there may be entirely new social networks that have sprung up to dominate the field; SEO may make a roaring comeback; Google+ may fall completely out of fashion, or it could just as easily assert its relevance in a big way.

The Resilience of Content Marketing

Whatever content marketing looks like in five years’ time, or in ten, we believe it will still be around—and even if some of the incidentals change, the basic premise of content marketing will be the same.

Why do we believe this? Because the very nature of content marketing goes hand in hand with consumer behavior, and plays right into the fundamentals of business. Content marketing may be ever-changing, and it may be linked to such ephemera as social media trends and search engine algorithms, but it’s built on something really solid: Content marketing is fundamentally about offering customer service. It’s about educating, informing, and offering value. It’s about showing that you’re trustworthy, and giving your clients a reason to be loyal to your brand.

None of that is ever going to go out of style. None of that is in question. Businesses have always needed to provide a meaningful, value-adding service to customers; all that’s changed is that we now have the tools of content marketing, to do it better than ever before.

Betting on content marketing is not, basically, betting on the latest social trends. It’s betting on your company’s need to meet customers where they are and to extend to them something of value—period.

If that sounds like a bet you want to make, we believe you can do so quite safely; learn more by contacting the Grammar Chic, Inc. team today at http://www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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What is Cause Marketing?

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Newsflash: Content marketing isn’t just for for-profit companies. In fact, Grammar Chic has previously blogged about the different ways in which charities and philanthropic organizations can make use of social media, inbound, and content marketing techniques.

What you might not know is that there is actually an entirely separate—and increasingly prolific—arm of content marketing, dedicated solely to working for social and charitable causes. It’s called cause marketing, and while it has much in common with conventional content marketing, there are some key distinctions that are worth noting.

Defining the Term

To begin with, though, what’s the basic definition of cause marketing? It is not, actually, marketing that’s done without profit-making in mind; actually, cause marketing is designed to be a profit-making initiative done by a for-profit company. The difference is that cause marketing doesn’t just try to raise awareness for a product. It tries to raise awareness, money, or engagement for a specific cause—a social issue, an environmental issue, or whatever else.

To really understand cause marketing, consider this old expression: Doing well by doing good. What it means is that it is possible—even optimal—to do something socially or morally good while also generating money or emphasizing your business’ bottom line. This is sort of what cause marketing is all about. A moral or social issue and a consumer product or service are both marketed in tandem, in a way that generates profits for the company but also money and awareness for the cause—so in the end, everyone wins.

Usually, cause marketing works something like this: A company markets its product, but pledges to give part of the proceeds to a charity or non-profit, or perhaps simply to use the marketing campaign itself as a way to generate awareness.

Cause Marketing and Your Brand

Any company can launch a cause marketing initiative—and the benefits for doing so are several. You can shine the spotlight on a cause that you really care about, and make an honest difference on behalf of an important issue. In the process, you can also spotlight your company’s philanthropic side, which can significantly improve your reputation and boost customer loyalty.

Some tips for getting started with cause marketing:

  • Choose a cause that you and your team members truly believe in; your marketing initiative won’t get far if you lack earnest enthusiasm for what you’re doing.
  • Choose a worthy charitable organization related to your cause, and inquire how best you might work with them to raise money or awareness.
  • As you work to promote the cause—and your own products—don’t just make it about a financial commitment. Really work to build awareness, if only by including a link to the non-profit’s website, or to a donations page, on your own website.

From there, it’s really all about the basics of content marketing—of getting the word out about what you’re doing. That’s where Grammar Chic comes in. To learn more about cause marketing, and how we can help you run a powerful and effective campaign, contact us today at http://www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Supporting Customers Through Your Business Website (It’s Easier Than You Think)

iStock_000017003347XSmallWouldn’t it be nice if you could have an automated customer service center on your website—a place where your customers could go to chat, in real time, with a technical support representative, a sales staff team member, or simply some caring employee able to guide them through use of your product? That’s clearly something that would go a long way toward enhancing the customer experience, but sadly, it’s also a significant investment, both in terms of the technology and the manpower needed to staff it. Amazon.com can do it, maybe, but your small business likely can’t.

What small business owners sometimes fail to remember, though, is that there are other ways to offer website-based customer service—even through some evergreen written content or video. A website that’s built not just to sell but to educate and inform will, in the process, provide support to the customers who may have questions or uncertainties about whatever it is you’re selling.

Education and Support

There are a number of ways in which you can offer customer support through informative Web pages, or even downloadable PDF files. You’ll want to select the specific type of content based on what kinds of products or services you’re offering, but some examples include:

  • An FAQ page, where you round up the most commonly asked questions about your products and provide some feedback.
  • How-tos, product guides, or video tutorials.
  • Blog entries that outline some different ways in which your product can be used.
  • Product maintenance, upkeep, and repair guides.

The Advantages of Support Content

What we’d recommend with regard to these different forms of support content is that you don’t have them just to have them; pause to reflect on the advantages they might offer. If you understand why you’re doing it, you’ll be better positioned to see some results.

Support content, like what we outlined above, can deliver:

  • Customers who come to you already knowing something about your products and services—thus, warmer leads.
  • Fewer questions and concerns to address among your customers and potential customers.
  • A higher level of trust from your customers, who will see that you care about helping and supporting them.

Ultimately, customer service is something that companies all seek to provide; including some support content on your website is an incredibly simple, fairly low-hassle way to up your brand’s customer service game.

To learn more, or to enlist our help in creating content like this, we invite you to contact Grammar Chic, Inc. today at http://www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Grammar Chic Loves Pop Culture

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There’s an old episode of The Simpsons in which young Bart has the audacity to suggest that there might be some downside to watching too much television—that maybe TV’s effects on the mind are sometimes less than positive. Homer responds to his son with barely contained rage, and through gritted teeth: “I’ll pretend you didn’t just say that about TV, boy!”

Here at Grammar Chic, we may not be quite as defensive of television as Homer is, but in case it isn’t already obvious, we enjoy it plenty—and for that matter, love all manner of pop culture. Just last evening, our fearless leader/CEO hosted a Walking Dead season premiere party at her home; one of our senior writers, meanwhile, was previously employed as a film and music critic.

Not only do we like pop culture, but we also see a lot of content marketing lessons to be learned from it. Perhaps that’s just because content marketing is what we do, all day every day—but whatever the reason, we’ve found a great many content marketing values to be gleaned from TV, movies, and music over the years.

In case you missed any of them—or just want a refresher course—we’ve rounded up a few favorite pop culture-related entries below.

The Good Wife: Balancing Novelty and Formula

If you didn’t watch The Walking Dead last night, it may be because you were too busy catching the most recent episode of The Good Wife, a tremendous TV show that does a superb job of bringing cable TV complexity to the more formulaic world of network programming. In fact, the show has much to teach content marketers about how they can surprise and entertain their readers while still conforming to convention.

From our all-Good Wife blog post: “One thing The Good Wife is routinely praised for is making the most of network TV conventions. The Good Wife is not Mad Men or Breaking Bad or even The Walking Dead: It does not air on cable, it is required to produce a large number of episodes each season, and there are plenty of limits on what the show can do. Within those parameters, though, the show does a superior job of surprising its viewers and of using TV drama tropes and trappings to its advantage. In the same way, you’ll have limitations in what you can do on Twitter, or on Pinterest, or what have you—but smart content marketers are able to know their platforms inside and out, to grasp all the rules and limitations, and to think up clever ways to subvert them.”

The Don Draper School of Content Marketing

Another Grammar Chic favorite—Mad Men—is a show all about advertising—so it goes without saying that we found some content marketing illustrations on the show. In particular, our Mad Men blog entry suggests three lessons learned on the show: That it’s important to tug at people’s emotions, just like Don Draper does in his classic ad pitches; that content marketing can be used to turn a product’s perceived weaknesses into strengths; and that, if you don’t like what people are saying about your brand, you need to change the conversation.

It’s Not TV. It’s HBO.

We once did an older blog post all about HBO programming—covering everything from Girls and Game of Thrones to Veep and True Detective. In the post, we comment on the need to be controversial, and the value in embracing exclusivity. We concluded the post with this: “A final point, and perhaps an obvious one: HBO’s shows get a lot of attention because, according to most standards, they’re all pretty good. HBO is exacting in its quality control, and while you may not personally like all of their programs, it is hard to argue with the fact that Veep and True Detective and Boardwalk Empire are at the very least professionally written and well-acted, that they are both original and compelling.

There is no substitute for quality content, whether you’re trying to run a TV network or a content marketing campaign.”

Will Rock for Content Marketing

We’re not just concerned with content marketing and its resonance on television. We like music, too, and have gleaned some cool lessons from some of the world’s biggest rock and roll acts. From Prince, we learned how important it is to be provocative and prolific; to be inclusive but also unclassifiable. For a guy who’s had a spotty relationship to the Internet, he sure does have a lot to teach us about online branding!

On the flipside, we recently blogged about U2’s surprise album release and controversial Apple partnership—and how it might be an example, for content marketers, of how not to approach content distribution.

Where it All Began

Finally, we’d be remiss in not mentioning our first-ever pop culture-themed blog entry—and still one of the most popular entries in our company blog history—our The Walking Dead post. The one that started it all. And really, it’s tough to summarize or condense this post: Whether you’re a fan of the show or simply a content marketing zealot, though, we urge you to check it out.

We’d love to talk to you more about any of these topics—pop culture or content marketing. (Ideally the latter, actually.) Contact Grammar Chic today at http://www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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How to Search for a Job When You Already Have One

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Being out of work and in dire need of employment is obviously a tough place to be, but searching for a new job when you’ve already got one can bring its own challenges. In many ways, seeking new work is a full-time job in itself; how do you devote yourself to it while still remaining productive at your 9-to-5, and without jeopardizing your current career status or your chance for a good letter of recommendation?

For that matter, how do you ensure that your job search remains private? How do you keep your current employer from becoming privy to what you’re doing?

The Grammar Chic team has a few tips for seeking a new job when you’ve already got one—and for minimizing some of the risk involved with this precarious act.

  1. Take a personal day. “How did you have time today to come interview with us?” Don’t be surprised when a potential employer or hiring manager asks you this question, sitting across from you at a conference room table. What they really want to know is: Are you stealing time from your current employer by doing this on the clock—and are you going to do the same thing to us one day? If you can answer honestly that you’ve taken a personal day for your job search, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. Plus, having some time marked off for this will allow you to devote yourself to it more fully, without having to sacrifice productivity or focus at work.
  2. Use a personal e-mail account. You don’t want your job search correspondence to clutter your work inbox—because that’s just going to be an awfully difficult thing to keep confidential.
  3. Avoid using any company technology. You may wish to refrain from doing any job searching on your company computer or tablet; this is a good way to prevent yourself from job searching too much while you’re at work, and to ensure you keep a clear line between your two pursuits.
  4. Don’t talk about your job search too much on social media. Even if you’re not Facebook friends with your boss, talking about your job search on social media is really going to let the cat out of the bag.
  5. Work on your resume and cover letter. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, since they got you a job before, they’ll work for you again. It’s vital to update your professional marketing documents with all the achievements you’ve had at your current place of employment, and also to tailor them for the new jobs you’re looking at.

Of course, we can help with you step #5. Contact our resume writing team today to learn how the process works, or to get going right away! Call 803-831-7444, or visit http://www.grammarchic.net.

 

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Content Marketing for Entrepreneurs: 3 Common Concerns

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A couple days ago, the Grammar Chic blog turned to the concept of content marketing for entrepreneurs, offering a crash course on some of the questions entrepreneurs should ask before engaging in any kind of content marketing endeavor. Today, we’re going to narrow the focus further still, addressing three concerns that entrepreneurs often voice about content marketing—and specifically about engaging professional content marketing companies.

The benefits of content marketing are, by now, well established; the various goals that content marketing can help you meet are most significant. The rub for many entrepreneurs is actually relinquishing control of their content marketing efforts—allowing an outside company to take the reins and to try to put the brand’s best face forward.

As an entrepreneur, you may simply feel uncomfortable with a content marketing firm saying things in the “voice” of your brand—the brand you’ve worked so hard to build. Then again, you may simply wonder how a content marketing company can guarantee any kind of ROI.

We’ll take three particular concerns, one at a time, and hopefully shed some light on them.

Concern #1: An external content marketing team won’t know enough about my brand.

You work hard to cultivate a certain identity for your business, and it’s scary to think about allowing another company to shape that identity. And sure, it’s true: A content marketing team won’t know your business as well as you do—but they also don’t really have to. The role of the content marketing company is to understand your values and the benefits you offer to customers, and to convey that clearly. Knowing the full, exhaustive history of your brand, or how you feel about every single issue under the sun, is frankly not necessary.

Content marketers, like those at Grammar Chic, will work with you to understand what your brand is all about, and will allow you to retain as much control as you’d like over the content that is produced. Content marketers don’t need to understand your business as well as you yourself do, however; no one does, and no one ever could!

Concern #2: It is impossible to prove ROI.

This is sort of an old canard about content marketing. It’s true enough that, if you’re looking for a direct line between a piece of content and a sale, you won’t always find it. However, there are several ways in which content marketing can make a real impact on your brand, in terms of authority, loyalty, and visibility, to name just a few parameters; setting the right goals helps you evaluate the value you’re getting. To say that it’s impossible to measure ROI simply isn’t true; you just have to decide how you want to measure it.

Concern #3: I can just do it myself.

Entrepreneurs often have a certain DIY attitude, and it’s certainly reasonable to think that you might just take on content marketing responsibilities yourself, especially early on. The thing is, content marketing can really be a full-time job, and the more you put into it the more you’ll get out. It also happens to be the kind of repeatable task that doesn’t particularly need to be done by the business owner—so when you outsource it, you can free your time to focus on things that only you can do.

Entrepreneurs who have further questions or concerns, of course, are welcome to contact our team today: Call 803-831-7444, or visit http://www.grammarchic.net.

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