5 Ways to Enhance Your Resume’s Style

It can be hard to separate style from substance—especially where resumes are concerned. Indeed, the way your resume looks can be just as important as what it says, either providing readability or detracting from it; either suggesting professionalism or undermining it. It’s important to put thought into the style of your resume—and to ensure the stylistic choices you’re making help rather than hinder.

But what exactly does that entail? Allow us to offer a few basic pointers.

Your Resume Font

First, let’s talk font. This is an area where your aim is to be professional and to make your resume easy to read—not to be creative, clever, or outside-the-box. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, because doing so may result in a resume that just doesn’t look respectable.

The fonts we recommend are Calibri, Helvetica, and Cambria. Times New Roman and Arial are also fine—definitely not flashy, but they get the job done.

As for font size, 10 and 12 are the two levels we recommend. Anything smaller is hard to read; anything larger makes it seem like you’re trying to accommodate for limited content.

What About Bolding?

Another matter to consider is bolding. The long and short of it: You should use bolding sparingly to emphasize section headers, company or job titles, degrees, or awards. You don’t want to use bolding any more than that, though. This is one of those stylistic flourishes where a little bit goes a long way.

Enhancing Readability

One of the main roles of your resume style should be improving readability—and that means making sure your resume isn’t merely a long string of unbroken text. You should have clearly defined sections, and lots of white space.

Two ways to do that include using bullet points—especially in your Core Competencies and Employment History sections—and inserting horizontal lines to show where one section ends and the next begins.

Your Resume Margins

Here, we’ll just make a quick point: You don’t want to mess with your margins too much. A tiny tweak to better fit your resume content is alright, but too much monkeying with your margins will make the whole thing look odd, outside the norm. Plus: You run the risk of a recruiter scanning/printing your resume and parts of it being cut off.

Pictures on Your Resume?

A final consideration: Should you include graphics, tables, charts, or images anywhere on your resume? There’s an easy answer: No. It’s not needed, and it’s not professional. Just avoid these elements altogether.

The stylistic choices you make matter very much—and if you need further help ensuring your resume looks good, we’d love to offer it. Contact the Grammar Chic resume writing team at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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How to Boost Your Content Quality

Quality is one of those content marketing buzzwords that everyone likes to throw around, but very few people can really define. We all agree that writing quality content is important, but how exactly do we measure it? What does it even mean, in the context of content marketing?

Here’s our simple definition: Quality content encourages readers to consume more of it. A good blog post will make the reader want to read other posts. Similarly, intriguing Facebook posts will make the reader want to follow you. Effective YouTube videos will earn you subscribers. And not only that, but strong content encourages social sharing, as well—spreading the word to friends and neighbors.

But if that’s what quality means, how can it be attained? How can you improve the quality level on your written content today?

Create Content That People Will Consume—and Share

We’ve got a few ideas for you.

Always write with your readers in mind. So simple, so often overlooked. Your content shouldn’t just be repurposed ad copy. It should be something that entertains and/or informs the reader. Think about your audience. Think about their pain points. Think about how you can help, by offering actionable insights. That’s what content quality hinges on.

Do research. It’s alright for your content to be opinion-based, but you should also have facts and figures to support your arguments—and even links to external blogs, articles, or studies, when appropriate. Make it clear that you’re not just pontificating. You’re providing trustworthy information.

Write so that people can understand. Good writing is characterized by clarity—so if you’re stuffing your posts with technical terms and industry jargon, they may not be getting their point across. Make sure you write in a way that even novices to your field can understand.

Spend time writing compelling headlines. The headline is arguably the most important component of your content, as it’s what creates the first impression and encourages people to read the content. Make sure you’re writing headlines that are catchy, concise, and enriched with real value.

Get an editor. Your content needs to be proofread thoroughly to avoid errors with grammar and spelling—and also just to make sure you’re really getting your point across. A professional editor, like the ones here at Grammar Chic, can help with these things.

Create Quality Content Today

In fact, we can also take over your content writing for you—and ensure that you’re regularly producing high-quality blogs and website content, without any hassle. Learn more by reaching out to the quality-minded pros at Grammar Chic today. Connect at 803-831-7444 or by visiting www.grammarchic.net.

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Resume Checklist: 5 Dos and 5 Don’ts

Writing a resume is relatively easy—but perfecting one takes work. There are just so many components you have to keep in mind, so many elements you have to juggle—all while keeping the final product brief and to-the-point.

So we thought we’d help you out. As you refine your own resume, use this quick checklist—which includes five things your resume needs, and then five things it really doesn’t.

5 Things to Include on Your Resume

This is by no means an exhaustive list of resume must-haves, but it certainly covers some important basics.

  1. Include a strong summary of qualifications. The top of your resume should feature a synopsis of your career thus far—basically, a value proposition, a statement of the benefits you might bring to an employer. Even if a recruiter doesn’t read anything else on your resume, this summary should provide a basic sense of who you are and why you should be hired.
  2. Also include a list of core competencies. Your resume needs a bulleted list of some of your key skills—ideally tailored to match the keywords/skills listed in the job description you’re eyeing.
  3. Include action-oriented statements. Your career summary should be focused on things you’ve done—achievements with metrics and measurable results, whenever possible.
  4. Include white space! Also make sure there are section breaks to make your resume easier to read.
  5. Include clear, consistent branding. Everything on your resume should ultimately indicate why you’re the best person for the job in question.

5 Things NOT to Include on Your Resume

And, here are five things you can omit from your resume document:

  1. Don’t include a career objective. If you have an executive summary—as we talked about above—there is simply no need for an objective. Additionally, a career objective will date you; frankly put, they are no longer used.
  2. Don’t include anything that makes your resume difficult to read. Tiny font, unbroken blocks of text, slim margins—remember that the point isn’t to cram everything onto the page, but rather to present a nice, fluid summary of your value.
  3. Don’t have typos or grammatical errors, either. Proof, proof, proof!
  4. Don’t include a mere list of responsibilities. Focus not just on what you did, but on your impact.
  5. Don’t include information that is overly personal. Your photo, your birthday, your religious or political preferences, even your hobbies—such things are almost never necessary or helpful on your resume.

Craft the Perfect Resume—With Our Help

The perfect resume requires you to consider all these elements and more—and that’s not always easy. For help, we invite you to reach out to the Grammar Chic team. Allow us to give your resume a professional touch. Connect at www.grammarchic.net or by calling 803-831-7444.

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What’s the Difference Between a Resume and a CV?

When you apply for a job, it’s important to provide some piece of marketing collateral—but should it be a resume, or a CV? Both of these terms get thrown around a lot, and with a lot of people they’re used somewhat interchangeably. It’s important for jobseekers to understand that these two types of document are not the same thing, and that some career opportunities call for one over the other.

What is a CV?

Let’s define the two terms, then, starting with the CV. More formally called a curriculum vita, the CV is most often used in academic and medical fields. You can think of this as a detailed professional timeline, showing the chronological trajectory of your employment history but also listing major awards you’ve won, academic appointments, publications, major research projects, funding and grants, speaking opportunities, etc.

CVs usually don’t provide a lot of detail for each job listed; it’s usually just a straight chronology. There are some other key differences, too. While we recommend most jobseekers keep their resumes to one or two pages, a CV can be limitless. Also, while resumes should be tailored for each particular job opportunity, a CV stays pretty consistent; it should be updated with new information as your career progresses, but that’s about it.

What is a Resume?

Most jobseekers are more familiar with resumes, which is more of a brief career overview—just a page or two, and not necessarily including every job, every award, or every honor you’ve ever had. It’s more like a summary of the potential you provide to employers; with that said, it can also provide more detail about specific responsibilities or achievements within given positions.

The other big difference? You need to be customizing your resume to each job you apply for. It is by no means a static thing. Using the Executive Summary and Core Competencies sections, in particular, your resume should speak to why you’re a great fit for the job you’re currently applying for.

Choosing Between a CV and a Resume

So which one should you have on hand? Well, ideally both, as it never hurts to be able to provide an employer with a resume or with a CV, depending on the position. Some employers might ask for a quick career summary, in which case a CV makes sense; others will want something that does a better job condensing your career into a narrative, and that’s when a resume will be necessary.

We can help you with both, and invite you to contact the Grammar Chic resume team today to get started on these key documents. Reach out to us at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net to begin.

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How to Survive a Google Algorithmic Update

Do you know Fred?

No, we’re not talking about a person. We’re talking about the latest update to Google’s algorithm, which appeared like a thief in the night to steal traffic and website state. Seemingly without warning, completely out of the blue, Fred caused some website to lose a full half of their organic traffic; for a handful of sites, there were drops of more than 90 percent.

But Fred’s not the only such offender. Google rolls out these algorithmic updates every so often; you may have heard of Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Mobilegeddon, or some of the others. Generally, they cause a fair amount of panic in the SEO community, who rightly fear that they could lose their hard-earned Google rankings.

More updates will come. Always. You can count on it. So the question is, is your website prepared for them?

Why Does Google Update its Algorithms?

To understand how you can prepare for algorithmic updates, it’s important to understand why they happen in the first place. Google doesn’t change things just to keep SEO folks on their toes. No, Google changes things to provide a better product to its consumers. That is, Google changes things to provide high-quality content that is relevant to search engine queries.

If you look closely at some of the changes made by these past Google updates, from Fred on back, you’ll notice that they are essentially quality control measures. For example, Mobilegeddon penalized websites that didn’t have mobile-optimized settings—websites that were difficult to read or to navigate on mobile devices. That may sound mean or it may sound harsh, but Google was only trying to ensure that, when a mobile search engine user tries to find information, he or she is able to do so without any problem or hindrance.

Other updates have penalized pages that have bad content, repetitive content, keyword-stuffed content, duplicitous backlinks—basically, lazy SEO tricks that make the actual website content less valuable or less readable.

Protect Against Google Updates

For small business owners who want to avoid their own websites being penalized, then, the solution is actually fairly simple: Focus on providing useful and easy to read content for your readers—plain and simple. Help Google do its job of providing really first-rate and relevant content to search engine users.

Some specific tips:

  • Make sure your page is mobile optimized. Verify it on multiple types of device. If you need help making it mobile-friendly, talk to your website developer.
  • Beef up flimsy content—pages of fewer than 400 words are especially in danger of algorithmic penalties.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing; use key search phrases naturally and organically.
  • Provide easy-to-read and value-adding content with actionable takeaways.
  • Focus on informing the reader—not merely pleasing the search bots.

It all comes down to excellent content—and of course, that’s something we can help you with. Reach out to the content writing team at Grammar Chic for a consultation about your Web writing needs. Reach us at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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4 Things to Include in Your Meta Description

Do you know what a meta description is? It may sound like an overly technical term, but really it’s not. Here’s how SEO Moz describes it: “Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that provide concise summaries of webpages. They commonly appear underneath the blue clickable links in a search engine results page (SERP).”

HubSpot, meanwhile, goes into a little more detail: “Meta-descriptions play a big role in search results. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, a meta description is the snippet of information below the link of a search result. Its purpose is to describe the contents of the page to the searcher. The end goal is to convince and persuade the searcher to click through to your website. Any words that match the search term are bolded in the description.”

Why Meta Descriptions Matter

In a nutshell: When you conduct a Google search, you’re given a list of links that match your search criteria, and under each link is a quick summary of what the page contains. That summary is the meta description. And it’s important that your own Web pages and blog posts have their own meta descriptions so as to take full advantage of this precious online real estate.

The meta description is an invaluable opportunity to capture some keywords and to make a strong first impression on search engine users—persuading them to actually click the link and visit your website. But in order for this to happen, you have to write a good, persuasive piece of copy—all while keeping it to 160 characters or less. (If it is more, Google will likely cut it off mid-sentence.)

4 Elements of a Strong Meta Description

There are four key elements that make any meta description effective:

  1. Your branded keywords. What we mean by this, generally speaking, is your company name. Grammar Chic blog posts always have our company name in the meta description, to start building some Google collateral and to make sure our content is clearly marked as our own.
  2. Additional keywords. One or two focus keywords, designed to attract search engine users, should also be worked into the meta description. For example, in a post that offers content marketing tips, we might include content marketing or content marketing solutions as our focus keywords.
  3. A statement of value. Why should search engine users click through to your content? Your meta description should summarize not only what the content is about, but how someone will benefit from reading it.
  4. A call to action. We’d also recommend a call to action—an insistence that your search engine user click through to read your content.

That may sound like an awful lot to encompass in 160 characters, but it’s more than possible. We’ll show you. Here’s the meta description used for this very blog post:

Writing meta descriptions is key to owning the Google SERP—but how is it done? Get meta description tips from the team at Grammar Chic, Inc.

You’ll see there our company name, a focus keyword (meta description tips), value (learning tips to own your Google SERP), and a call to action (Get…).

That’s just one example—but maybe you’d like to see how meta description writing could work for your content. We’d love to show you. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to start a conversation. Contact us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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4 Ways to Make Your Call to Action More Compelling

Around here, we recommend to our clients that basically every piece of marketing collateral they write include a call to action. The call to action helps direct the reader, helps show them what step they need to take next—whether that means buying a product, signing up for an email newsletter, or simply clicking to your business website.

The idea is that you can’t just assume people will do what you want them to do, any more than you might assume your teenage son will take out the trash for you. Generally speaking, if you want it to happen, you need to say so. That’s what makes the call to action so valuable. It’s a prompt for your reader to do the thing you want them to do.

Not every call to action is effective, though. You might ask the reader to do something, and the reader might effectively say thanks but no thanks. The good news is, you can make your call to action more persuasive, more effective, more compelling—and we’ll show you how.

Write with Repetition

The human brain naturally looks for patterns, and for repeated words and phrases. It seeks out concepts or ideas that are important. That’s a psychological feature you can exploit in your calls to action.

Here’s how. Say you want your reader to save money on their auto maintenance needs by choosing your oil change and lube shop over a dealership. You should write a marketing email or blog that uses that key phrase—save money—several times over. Then, when you get to the call to action, frame it similarly. Save money by scheduling your oil change with us now!

By that point, your reader’s brain has been trained to really hone in on that phrase, save money—and ultimately to associate it with your call to action. By clicking the link or calling you on the phone, they assume, they’ll be able to save money, as promised throughout your content.

Make it Urgent

Are you familiar with the concept of FOMO? The fear of missing out? It’s a marketing principle that hinges on this basic idea: People don’t like to feel like they’re being excluded, or that they’re somehow not getting the same perks that other people are getting.

Along similar lines, people don’t like to think that there’s a really great offer that could pass them by. Your call to action can be more effective when it connects to this sense of urgency, then. Include phrases like limited time offer in your call to action, and motivate readers to follow through before they miss their window!

Focus on Benefits

This may be the most foundational, more important call to action rule of them all. If you want people to do something, you’ve got to show what’s in it for them. You’ve got to tell them that they will be better off for having done the thing you want them to do. You have to convey benefit to them.

That’s why your call to action won’t work as well if all it says is contact us today. Why should people contact you today? What value will it provide them? How will the experience enrich them? Those are the questions any good call to action must address.

Take Away Risk

One final way to make your call to action more compelling: Eliminate fear and risk. Let the reader know that they have nothing to worry about. Call today for a free consultation—with no obligation. Order today, and we guarantee you’ll love our product—or your money back. Those are the kinds of reassurances your customers are ultimately looking for.

And speaking of which: There’s no risk and no obligation when you call the Grammar Chic team to ask about our content writing services. We’d love to chat with you about how we can transform your calls to action into real money-makers for your business. Contact us to begin the process: 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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