3 Ways to Get Your Resume Down to a Page

Some jobseekers—experienced professionals, C-suite executives, those who’ve had long and robust career histories—may need their resumes to span two or three full pages. That’s perfectly fine. Other jobseekers—the younger, the less experienced—can make do with just one. That’s fine, too.

The trouble comes when you find yourself in the middle ground—with a resume that doesn’t fill two pages, but also doesn’t quite fit into one.

The last thing you want is a resume with a lot of empty space on it. So that one-and-a-half-pager? It’s gotta get cut down.

The question is how. Making razor-thin margins or opting for a microscopic font aren’t good options, because then your resume isn’t readable. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to tighten up your resume and get it down to one action-packed page—helping you portray maximum value quickly and cleanly.

Get Rid of Old Jobs

For starters: How far back are you going in your career history? A good rule of thumb is that employers are most interested in what you’ve done recently—so jobs that are more than 10-15 years old usually don’t need to be included on a resume.

If you’re one of those more experienced workers, and if you have seven or eight different listings in your career history, there’s a good chance you can cut one or two of them to save space.

Eliminate Unnecessary Stuff

Are you including any of the following items on your resume?

  • Hobbies
  • Volunteer positions
  • References
  • “References available upon request”
  • Your high school or college GPA

If so, then just getting rid of these items may be the best approach.

We’re not saying these items never have a place on your resume—but if you’re looking to save space, they can definitely be axed without any great loss.

Keep Your Bullet Points Short

Your career history should take up the bulk of the space on your resume—so that’s ultimately where you need to look as you try to keep things brief.

The best resumes list job accomplishments and responsibilities in bullet points—and most of the time, you should be able to keep each bullet point to a single line. If yours are longer, trim them down, focusing each one on strong action words, numbers, and statistics, while removing any “fluff” or filler.

Also remember to remove any redundancies. If you “provided exemplary customer service” in your last four jobs, you don’t necessarily need to list it under each one; saying it just once is usually sufficient.

Bring Focus to Your Resume

At the end of the day, a good resume is a focused resume—and if you’re having a hard time finding focus, that’s something we can help you with. Schedule a call with one of our resume writing professionals today. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. by visiting www.grammarchic.net or calling 803-831-7444.

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5 Ways Jobseekers Can Address Employment Gaps—Positively

Everyone’s story is different. Maybe you got your first job when you were still in high school, and have been working steadily ever since. Then again, maybe you left the workforce for an extended period of time— whether to go back to school, to raise a child, or to contend with some medical issues.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that, of course—but it can lead to some resume complications. How can jobseekers address gaps in their employment history? Here are a few positive, pragmatic tips from our resume writing team.

Addressing Employment Gaps on Your Resume

Whatever You Do, Don’t Apologize

First and foremost: Remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with taking time off for pursuits as noble as raising a kid or going back to school. It may give you an unconventional career trajectory, but it is nothing to feel ashamed or sorry about. Avoid taking any sort of an apologetic tone on your resume—because frankly, that can scan as negativity, which is the last thing you want on your resume.

Use Your Cover Letter to Your Advantage

Your resume doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting! If you have a year or two where you weren’t working, you can bring it up in your cover letter—noting succinctly (and unapologetically!) that you briefly detoured out of the workforce to care for an ailing parent, seek medical attention, or whatever else. Don’t be timid about offering a quick and direct explanation, then moving on.

Consider an Alternative Resume Format

Most of the time, we recommend a chronological work history—but if your work chronology is a little weird or wonky, you may benefit from a functional resume, one that’s laid out by skills/competencies rather than a straight job history. This can be a smart way to emphasize your strengths while being discreet about your absence from the workforce.

Avoid Complaining About Old Bosses

Sometimes, an absence from the workforce is all because you had a really bad wok experience, and just couldn’t stick around any longer. That’s fine, but make sure you never lapse into complaining about a former boss—no matter how bad the boss was! Simply put, nobody wants to hire a complainer. Don’t brand yourself that way.

Keep the Emphasis on Your Achievements

If you missed a few months or a few years of work, it’s important to let employers know that you didn’t lose your mojo in the interim. Make sure you include plenty of strong, specific achievements from before and after your time off. And if you’ve not yet returned to the workforce after a long absence, include some details about what you did during your time off—such as volunteer work, freelance projects, or continuous education. Just make it clear you weren’t sitting idly by!

Get a Tune-Up for Your Resume

Could your resume do a better job of addressing an employment gap? Ask our resume writers to help. Give us a call and schedule a resume consultation—www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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10 Things You Need for Successful Social Media Marketing

Every business wants a robust presence on social media; indeed, it’s almost impossible to succeed without one. But social media marketing requires a lot more than just signing up for a Facebook account and posting the occasional meme.

Actually, it requires a comprehensive strategy, involving many moving parts. Here’s a quick checklist—some non-negotiable elements of any successful social media marketing campaign.

10 Things You Need for Your Social Marketing Efforts

  1. Goals. What’s the point of your social marketing outreach? How will you know whether or not you’re succeeding? You need to have clearly defined goals to guide your efforts—and that means goals that are specific, measurable, and time-bound.
  2. Audience. Who are you trying to reach? On which social networks will you find them? And what kind of content are they looking for? Use buyer personas to ensure you’re speaking directly to your target audience.
  3. Automation. Not everything can be automated, but using a program like Hootsuite to schedule some posts can remove some of the grunt work, and help your campaign run more efficiently.
  4. Humanity. The whole point of social media is connection. Make sure you’re humanizing your brand: Use humor when appropriate and include some candid photos of your team.
  5. Consistency. Regular activity is critical for social media success. Simply put, nobody’s going to keep up with a social media presence where the updates are infrequent or sporadic. Use an editorial calendar to stay on schedule.
  6. Interaction. Social media is a two-way street! Monitor your accounts and take the time to respond to any questions or comments you get from customers or fans.
  7. Curated content. If you’re looking to build thought leadership and display your industry authority, it’s important to sometimes share informative content from external sources (not your competitors).
  8. Original content. Curated content is important, but hopefully you’re developing plenty of branded content to share, too. Aim for a spectrum of content—blog posts, photos, videos, Web page shares, etc.
  9. Data. Are you regularly consulting analytics to see what’s working—and what’s not? Make sure you’re using the right dashboards and tweaking your strategy as you go.
  10. Optimization. Finally, make sure your social media bios and profiles are all well-optimized. Include target keywords and convey the value proposition for your brand. Refresh your profiles roughly once a year or so.

Those are the basic elements of a strong social media presence—but of course, bringing them all together can be tough. We’d love to chat with you about how the Grammar Chic team can provide strategy, day-to-day management, content creation, and reporting. Contact us today and ask about our social media management services! Reach out at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Your Cover Letter Should Include These Six Elements

When submitting a resume to a recruiter or hiring manager, it’s usually a good idea to include a cover letter, as well—even if you’ve been told that cover letters are “optional.” Simply put, a cover letter gives you an additional chance to pitch yourself; it’s one more piece of marketing collateral that can help you convey your value as an employee and stand out from the competition.

But all of this is contingent on your cover letter being well-constructed. If you’ve never drafted a cover letter before, you may wish to consider consulting with one of our resume writers, who can ensure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Or, consider these brief guidelines—six elements that characterize an effective cover letter.

Six Things Every Cover Letter Needs

  1. Specifics. Using bullet points, outline two to four of your most significant career accomplishments—and whenever possible, use statistics and numbers to lend those achievements some specificity. Hiring managers respond better to quantifiable accomplishments than to generalities; “increased sales by 35 percent” is always better than just “increased sales.”
  2. Personalization. Every cover letter you send out should be customized; don’t simply copy and paste the same text for every job opportunity. Whenever possible, do a little online research and find the name of the hiring manager or HR head who’s going to be receiving the cover letter, and address it to them individually.
  3. Brevity. This isn’t the place to tell your life story. It’s not even the place to outline your career history; that’s what your resume is for! A good cover letter is more like an elevator pitch, quick and punchy. You never want it to exceed a page; often, half a page is sufficient.
  4. Keywords. Another important way in which you can customize your cover letter? Look through the job description for the role you’re seeking, and try to incorporate some of that verbiage into your cover letter—emphasizing your fit for the position. If the job description uses the phrase “customer service” two or three times, that’s a phrase you should include in the cover letter.
  5. Contact information. Your name, address, phone number, and email address should all be included in the cover letter—always!
  6. Value. The big picture here is that you’re trying to show a potential employer the benefits you can offer them—and that means displaying the unique value you have as a professional. Try to articulate those things you believe make you special as an employee. This is where those specific accomplishments come in handy; and, where generalizations like hard-working and motivated generally come up short.

These guidelines should point you toward a strong cover letter—but if you still have questions, we’d love to look over your resume and cover letter and suggest some revisions. Reach out to the resume writing team at Grammar Chic, Inc. to schedule a consultation. Connect with us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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How to Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Proper keyword use is essential for content marketing—and for SEO. The keywords help reflect those search terms you’re trying to rank for; in many cases, they will also align with your chosen PPC terms. Keywords can even be valuable on a creative level, helping guide and structure your content writing.

With that said, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Keyword stuffing—the act of including so many keywords that your content is stiff, robotic, nonsensical, or simply very hard to read—can result in SEO penalties, which makes the entire endeavor moot.

So how can you avoid keyword stuffing, without flat-out avoiding keywords? Where’s the balance?

Tips to Avoid Keyword Stuffing

A few tips:

  • Know who you’re writing for. One of the most common causes of keyword stuffing is the belief that you’re writing, first and foremost, for search algorithms. Scrap that idea right now, and instead remind yourself that you’re writing for human beings. Nine times out of 10, if you simply write in a way that’s natural and that makes sense to human readers, everything else will fall into place.
  • Identify the prime spots for keywords. There are a few places where you really want to insert keywords, for maximum SEO value—heading, title tags, meta descriptions, and in the first paragraph of your body content. Once you ensure keywords in these locales, you can ease up, and just focus on writing good, natural content.
  • Use long-tail variations. You can break up your keyword monotony, and avoid any signs of keyword stuffing, by throwing in some long-tail alternates. For example, if your main keyword is Charlotte plumbers, you might mix in some references to Charlotte plumbing companies, plumbers in Charlotte, etc., all of which can help your content read more gracefully.
  • Remember: Synonyms are your friends! Along the same lines, trust in Google’s increasingly-intelligent bots to put two and two together, and to register synonyms for your main keywords. If you’re looking to rank for the term HVAC, it’s fine to also use air conditioning or heating system. Google knows what you mean, and you’re not going to lose any SEO mojo by varying things up.

It can’t be stressed enough: 90 percent of the battle is just writing good, natural, value-adding content for human readers—and if you need help with that, you’ve come to the right place. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to set up a consultation with one of our SEO-trained content writing professionals. Contact us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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How Recent Grads Should Handle Their Social Media

For recent college graduates who are now fully invested in the job search, social media can be either a blessing or a curse.

On the one hand, it can provide invaluable networking opportunities, chances to connect, to stay in touch, and to discover new opportunities. This is especially true if you know all the right social media tools to use.

Then again, when it’s used unwisely, social media can undercut your professionalism—and cause you to lose out on those opportunities. It’s all but certain potential employers will check out your online profiles before hiring you—and if all they see are those slovenly photos from your most recent spring break, that could be trouble!

So what should recent grads do about social media? And, what shouldn’t they do? Here are a few tips from the Grammar Chic, Inc. team.

What You Should Do on Social Media

We’ll start with the positives.

  1. Check your privacy settings. There’s nothing wrong with sharing personal photos with your close friends—but are those photos also visible to potential employers? Are you sure? Check your privacy settings to be sure.
  2. Search yourself. Do a quick Google search for your own name, and simply see what comes up. This might call up some older social media posts or Tumblr entries you want to delete!
  3. Create at least one strong, professional social media profile. Use LinkedIn to put your best foot forward, and to convey your professionalism and passion.
  4. Double and triple check your spelling and grammar. Sloppy writing on your LinkedIn page may cause you to get looked over for someone just a little more detail-oriented!
  5. Familiarize yourself with LinkedIn’s job search tools. Again, there are many great resources out there, for anyone willing to learn them.

What You Shouldn’t Do on Social Media

Now, the flipside.

  1. Don’t share a lot of controversial opinions. If you like talking about religion and politics on Facebook, be very careful with those privacy settings.
  2. Don’t complain. Even if you’re currently working a retail job you don’t especially care for, keep negativity off your feeds. Nobody wants to hire a complainer!
  3. Don’t think a LinkedIn profile replaces your need for a resume. While some information can be the same, for a successful job search, you really need both!

Whether you need help building that resume or getting your LinkedIn profile up to speed, our resume writing team is here to help. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. today to discuss your job search needs; contact us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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How to Use Testimonials in Your Content Marketing

Today’s consumers are wired—even if on a purely subconscious level—to seek social proof. Before making a purchasing decision, they want to know that other people have made that decision—and been happy with the results.

Indeed, studies show that even a testimonial or recommendation from a total stranger can positively impact a purchasing decision; seven out of 10 consumers are more likely to buy a product or service if it has testimonials attached to it. The question is, how can you get these testimonials, then effectively use them within your marketing materials?

Asking for Reviews

The only way to get testimonials is to ask for them. You can contact your customers at random and ask for reviews, and sometimes that will yield results. A better approach is to be systematic about who, how, and when you ask.

For instance, it can be ideal to ask for a testimonial from someone who has just completed a purchase. Send an email within a day or two of their purchase and ask them to share some feedback. Because the product is still fresh in their minds, they’ll be more likely to oblige.

If you don’t get a response, send a follow-up a couple of weeks later. Sometimes, it may take that long for a customer to form a solid opinion about the product. And if you do get a response, take note of that, and reach out again the next time that customer makes a purchase. When someone proves willing to give you a review, that’s always something you should track and leverage.

One more tip: Consider sending personalized emails to your best, most loyal customers—the ones who you feel are likely to provide you with honest, positive feedback. Simply let them know how much their business means to you, and how helpful a quick testimonial would be.

As you send out testimonial requests, consider asking a few “guiding” questions. For example, ask the customer how much money the product saved them, or how much time it saves them on a daily or weekly basis. You can also ask more open-ended questions, e.g., what’s the biggest benefit this product has given you?

Using Testimonials

As you receive testimonials, don’t be afraid to edit them for grammar, punctuation, or length, making them as punchy and as readable as possible. Note that, for substantive changes, you’ll need to get approval from the customer.

Though it may not always be possible, consider putting an image of the customer beside their testimonial; of course, you’ll need to ask the customer to send that image, and to give their permission for its use, but such effort can really pay off. Remember that testimonials are all about building trust, and an image can make your testimonials far more human and trustworthy.

As for how you use testimonials, there are a number of ways you can implement this content:

  • On a designated Testimonials page on your company website
  • On the home page
  • Product-specific testimonials on the corresponding product pages
  • In your print brochures
  • Turned into images and posted to social media (simple resources like Canva can be used here)
  • In email newsletters
  • In your email signature

There are a number of creative places where a testimonial can be implemented to offer that social proof that your buyers are looking for—and in the process, to win their trust.

We’d love to chat with you more about the best ways to collect and implement testimonials. Schedule a free consultation with Grammar Chic’s content marketing experts: Reach out at www.grammachic.net or 803-831-7444.

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