How to Customize Your Resume for Different Job Opportunities

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Here’s a little bit of resume arithmetic for you: If you’re applying for three different jobs, how many total resumes do you need to have? The answer: Three! If you think you can just have one official resume, for use in any and all job application scenarios, then you may be in for a rude awakening: The really skilled jobseekers customize their resumes to match each particular opportunity. If you want to remain competitive, then you need to do likewise.

But how do you customize your resume? Do you have to completely rewrite your resume every time you apply for work, from top to bottom? Probably not. What you should do is look to a few sections that lend themselves to customization—tweaking your career narrative, shifting some verbiage, and presenting yourself as the ideal candidate for the position you’re applying for.

There are five specific sections we recommend looking at.

  1. Your Job Title

How do you identify yourself on the resume? Chances are, you have had several different job titles over the years—Customer Service Professional, Marketing Intern, Senior Sales Manager, or what have you. So which title or position do you pick to list on your resume? It’s not necessarily the most recent one, but rather the one that most closely matches the job you’re applying for.

  1. Your Career Summary

Your career summary is the condensed narrative of your working life; it doesn’t include every last detail or even every last job you’ve held, but it does offer the basic story of who you are as an employee. The way you tell that story, of course, should be aligned with the position you’re applying for; if you’re applying for a management role, your summary should emphasize leadership and mentorship skills, any time you have spent supervising other employees, and so on.

  1. Core Competencies

Hopefully, your resume has a list of your core skills—basically, some keywords related to specific job functions. You may not always customize these, but sometimes it can be advantageous. If you’re applying for a job with a very refined skillset, and you happen to have some of those skills, list them!

  1. Job History

Generally speaking, we don’t recommend leaving big gaps in your resume; if you worked somewhere for five years, it’s best to include it, even if it’s not directly related to the position you’re applying for now. However, you may choose to cut some of the content from that part of the resume—listing the job for completeness’ sake, but not necessarily dwelling on it for long.

  1. Career Accomplishments

And finally, yes: As you list your specific milestones and achievements for each job you’ve held, make sure you customize them to match the position you’re applying for. One employer may care more about your people skills and customer service success stories; another, about cost savings, or something else altogether. Be prudent in how you market yourself!

And that’s what this all comes down to: Being smart about the way you brand yourself as an employee. For any assistance, reach out to the Grammar Chic, Inc. team today. Visit www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444.

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How to Get a Job When You Haven’t Had One in a While

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When you’re out of work for a long time, it can make it that much harder to jump back into the workforce. There are countless reasons why you might withdraw from the rat race for a while—maternity or paternity leave, health concerns, family needs, a stab at entrepreneurship—but ultimately, the reason doesn’t much matter. Reentering the work force is always going to prove challenging.

So say that you haven’t had a job in a couple years, but now you’re ready to get back in the swing of things. What steps do you take? How do you ensure that you find a new job as quickly and as smoothly as possible?

Get your LinkedIn profile up to date.

First things first: Employers are going to know that you’ve been out of work, but you don’t want them to think that you’ve been out of the loop. Spend some time going into your LinkedIn page and fully optimizing it—providing some succinct yet precise information about your previous employment history and your different skillsets. Try reaching out to some old colleagues and co-workers to get some LinkedIn endorsements and recommendations.

Get your story straight.

When you interview for a new position, you’re probably going to be asked why you’ve been out of the workforce. Spend some time thinking about what you’re going to say. Rehearse an answer so that you can respond without seeming flustered or defensive about it.

Think about your goals.

Your goal may be to find work—nothing more and nothing less—but it’s probably best for you to have a slightly clearer career trajectory in mind. At the very least, come up with a couple of specific jobs or job titles that you want and focus on achieving them. Without goals, your job search will simply be aimless.

Have encouragers in your life.

Finding a job is always tough, not least when you haven’t had one in a while. You may start to feel desperate or frustrated—but if you let it show, that will only hurt your chances. Make sure you have some friends to build your confidence and remind you that you’re just as qualified and just as deserving as anyone.

Get an updated resume.

It’s amazing how quickly resume standards can change. An obviously out-of-date resume will cripple your prospects—so invest in yourself, and in your career. Call the Grammar Chic team and get an updated resume today. Reach us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Failed Connections: Why Your Content Isn’t Landing

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Creating content is not the same as engaging your readers; similarly, communicating does not always lead to connecting. This is one of the potential frustrations of content marketing: That you might pool a lot of resources into content development and, on a technical level, do everything right—yet still fail to really engage or resonate with your audience in a meaningful way.

The good news is, this problem is not insurmountable. It’s just a matter of locating the blockage in the pipe, so to speak: Where are your efforts to connect breaking down? Where are you going too far, not going far enough, or simply going in the wrong direction?

There are some common sources of failed connection in content marketing. Some of the major ones:

You think everyone wants to hear your life story. Or, rather, the story of your business. A lot of online content is heavily “about”-centric, and the thinking is that this provides some context for trust, or perhaps that it humanizes the business. There is some truth to this, but it is also possible to take it too far. In the end, your users want to hear about the value you can offer them—not every last detail of your 30 years in business.

Your content is too “inside baseball.” Explaining how you do what you do, in great technical detail and with a lot of industry jargon, may convey a certain level of authority, but it may also keep your users at a distance. Remember: What they ultimately want to hear about is the benefits you can offer.

Your content doesn’t solve real problems. Your users don’t need you to create new problems and then solve them. They want you to meet them where they are and speak to issues they’re actually having. That’s where using buyer personas is essential!

You’re not respectful of your reader’s time. You can disrespect your readers’ time by prattling on for 1,200 words when you don’t need to, but you can also disrespect it by offering 300 words of fluff. Every word should convey value!

Remember that the point of content is to connect—and that takes some work! For assistance, contact the Grammar Chic, Inc. team today: 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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5 Resume Writing Disasters (And How to Avoid Them)

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Food for thought: There is no magic formula or special combination of words that will guarantee your resume lands successfully, securing you an interview and ultimately paving the way toward your dream job. There are, however, some seemingly small yet deeply significant blunders that will get your resume thrown into the trashcan 99 percent of the time.

Those odds may seem pretty daunting, but the good news is this: These resume blunders, while alarmingly common, are also easily fixable. You just have to know what to watch out for.

Five of the biggest resume writing disasters include:

  1. Being way too wordy.

We’ve written before about the importance of having some good, strong resume keywords—but there’s a difference between strategic keywords and just having a bunch of words vomited on to the page.

Your resume should certainly speak to your value as an employee, but it’s important to be succinct in weaving this narrative. Don’t change your margins to allow for more words, and—with rare exceptions—don’t go over a couple of pages. Remember that to get hired, your resume needs to impress an actual HR manager—not just computer programs and robots—and very few managers have time to read a 5-page resume.

  1. Using words that don’t mean anything.

Since you need to be judicious in the words you use, make sure you don’t waste valuable space on words that really don’t mean anything or convey specific value—words like hard-working or driven or self-starter. Again, we’ve blogged about this before. Focus on more concrete competencies, achievements, and results—not on these generic words and workplace euphemisms.

  1. Not including a clear summary.

You may end up putting a lot of time and energy into your resume, but don’t be too disappointed to learn that, well, hiring managers may not read the full thing. They may glance at it for just a minute or two, which means you need something to catch their eye and tell your story in a nutshell—a good, strong executive summary at the top of the page.

  1. Not editing.

There is zero excuse for having typos and grammatical errors on your resume. Use Spell Check, have a friend proofread it for you, or just hire Grammar Chic to give your resume a once-over.

  1. Making it overly detailed.

Should you include a lot of technical details about a project you worked on 20 years ago? Maybe—but only if those details directly relate to your current career goals. Again, make good use of your limited resume real estate, and orient everything around your basic career narrative.

Of course, an easy way to avoid all of these pratfalls is to hire the Grammar Chic team to review and refine your resume; call us today at 803-831-7444, or visit us online at www.grammarchic.net.

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SEO Elements: What’s Essential for Your Web Content?

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We talk to countless small business owners who want help with their website—and the #1 question we’re asked goes something like this: Sure, I want you guys to write some compelling, persuasive Web content—but what can you do for my SEO?

Business owners know that the reports of SEO’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, and the only way to ensure that your website is found by search engine users is to take it seriously. That doesn’t mean you don’t also need quality content; what it means is that quality content and search engine optimization can and should go hand in hand, feeding and supporting one another.

In fact, the single most essential SEO element for your company website is quality written content. Google knows gibberish when it sees it. It can detect if your content is vague, grammatically troublesome, or simply not engaging—and it will punish you in kind. Getting truly strong website content is an SEO must.

But what are some of the other SEO elements you need to think about as you prepare your Web content? A few considerations:

  • You need to have targeted keyword phrases included on your site, preferably toward the beginning of your content; you also need to keep from overdoing it. Keyword stuffing is a big SEO no-no. You may want to rank for the phrase Charlotte property management, but saying Charlotte property management 50 times on a 200-word page is going to do more harm than good. Be natural. Don’t force anything.
  • Remember to use keyword variants—something Google increasingly prizes. Say Charlotte property managers a time or two, but also throw in property mangers in Charlotte, or managing Charlotte properties, or something similar.
  • Remember that, both in terms of your human readers and search engines, the first 100-200 words of text are make-or-break. Convey what the page is about. Get to the point. And use your keyword early on!
  • Make sure your title is compelling for human readers and succinct enough for Google to display it; that means 55 characters or less!
  • Use different headlines– H1, H2, H3 tags—to convey your message and organize your content. Note that these headlines are good spots for keywords!
  • Ensure, for the search engines’ benefit, that each page of content you write has a short meta description—150 to 160 characters long. If you use WordPress as your CMS, there is a field where you can add the meta description, quite easily.

Your written Web content matters—for your readers, and for search engines. To learn more, we invite you to contact Grammar Chic today at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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4 Crucial Website Elements You May Be Overlooking

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Is your website a 24/7 sales machine? Is it a virtual storefront that draws in new clients and converts leads into consumers? Or does it just kind of sit there on the Web—an online placeholder but not much more?

We talk to a lot of small business owners who are anxious about the efficacy of their website. They want to know what they can do to make it really effective. There are always tweaks that can be made, both big and small—but why not start with the simple ones? Here are four small but powerful additions to make your website more compelling today.

  1. Your phone number.

Every page of your business website should have your phone number—and not a personal cell, either, but a dedicated business line (or a Google Voice box). Phone numbers are used by Google when showing local search results, but more important than that, your phone number will show customers that you are available to help, and that your business is a real business. The phone number offers validation and establishes trust, and it couldn’t be a simpler addition to your website.

  1. Thought leadership.

Customers need to be able to see what your company does, but also that you know what you’re doing. Offering information, not just promotion, shows that you’re active and involved in your industry and competent in your field. Show thought leadership by including clearly-marked links to your company blog and to active social media feeds.

  1. Calls to action.

We say this all the time, but it’s that important: Calls to action should be used on every page of your business website. The call to action guides the user through the website and helps you achieve your goals—getting customers to provide their e-mail, pick up the phone and call you, buy a product, or whatever else.

  1. An About Us page.

Customers don’t necessarily need to know your life story but they do need to hear about your experience and your qualifications. An About Us page is a great place to build trust. Of the four elements listed here this one may be the toughest to add, but you can always hire a company like Grammar Chic to help you put your company’s story into words!

To learn more about any of these imperative website elements, contact us today at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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4 Content Marketing Tips You’re Probably Not Expecting

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Small business owners who regularly read up on content marketing strategy probably feel like they know the script by now: Post consistently. Make sure the quality level is high. Use hashtags and calls to action. Offer value, and always put yourself in the reader’s shoes before posting.

These are good, if conventional, content marketing tips. We’ve regularly championed each of these practices, and stand by them. But for today, we want to offer a few quick tips that you may not be expecting from a content marketing firm. These tips are, for the small business owner, just as essential.

  1. Cut some of your social media accounts.

We’re all for spreading your brand across as many platforms as possible—unless you’re spreading yourself too thin. Some small business owners may lack the time needed to really invest in each platform, meaning they’re either half-assing it or else repeating themselves too much. If you only update each platform once a fortnight, you’re not getting much value; if you automate your tweets to populate all your other social channels, there is no reason for anyone to follow you on more than one platform.

So cut some things—strategically. You probably need Facebook; if you’re a B2B company, you can’t do without LinkedIn. But maybe your Google+ page or your Pinterest account can be cut out without your brand taking too great a loss.

  1. Post less frequently.

Note that we’re not telling you to post less consistently. You should probably be posting to each social platform once a day, give or take, or else you may find that your presence there just isn’t reaching anyone. If you’re posting a dozen Facebook posts every day, though, we can all but guarantee that the Facebook algorithms are hiding some of them, and you’re diluting your brand’s message regardless. Better to focus on one or two killer posts than take the scattershot, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach.

  1. Sell more.

We’re constantly telling our content marketing clients that social media shouldn’t be all about sales; if you’re just promoting all the time then you’re going to turn off your users. At the same time, though… well, promoting your company is kind of the point. Even when you’re not directly selling, you should have your company’s basic value proposition in mind—and if 90 percent of your posts are non-promotional, you can and should make sure the other 10 are a little more direct.

  1. Ask for help.

Content marketing is meant to be persuasive, but there is something to be said for taking a straightforward and earnest approach. Sometimes what you really need is for your followers to share your page, invite their friends, or leave positive reviews; and sometimes the best way to make it happen is just to ask them, candidly expressing your need.

For small business owners, these tips may seem a little bit off the reservation, but make no mistake: They’re all essential to a robust content marketing strategy. To learn more, we invite you to contact the Grammar Chic team today at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

 

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