Recruiters Don’t Care About Your Soft Skills

An effective resume is one that makes a convincing argument for your value as an employee—one that shows potential employers how they might benefit from hiring you. As such, it’s important for your resume to highlight your most precise, specific, and value-adding skills; the flipside of this is that your resume shouldn’t be bogged down with skills or competencies that don’t convey real results.

What this means is that, generally speaking, you can leave the soft skills off altogether. Things that are measurable and quantifiable? Absolutely include them on your resume. Things that make you distinct from other applicants? You bet. The same ol’ vague, mushy adjectives that everyone includes on their resume? Ditch ‘em.

The Soft Skills to Avoid on Your Resume

If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, here’s the rundown—some common buzzwords and nebulous skillsets that are going to make your resume seem mushy, vague, or unfocused.

Detail oriented. While it’s certainly nice to pay attention to details, this is one of those phrases that everyone uses to describe themselves—and there’s no real way to quantify or measure it. As such, including this phrase really doesn’t suggest value to recruiters and hiring managers.

Results oriented. See above. It’s great to care about results, but that’s not something you can empirically prove on a resume or in a job interview.

Experienced. A good resume will show that you’re experienced—so there’s no need to say it.

Hard working. Again, it’s wise to show, not tell. Listing some of your core accomplishments—complete with numerical results, when possible—is a lot more meaningful than just saying you work hard. See also: Motivated.

Team player. Your resume should include instances of you collaborating with people and working on teams to achieve goals—so, you shouldn’t need to state it like this.

Dynamic. What does this mean? Most jobseekers can’t really explain it, much less demonstrate it, so it’s probably not something you need on your resume.

Microsoft Office, Word, Excel, Email, Internet Explorer, etc. Proficiency in these everyday programs is not technically a soft skill, but at this point it should really go without saying. Inclusion of these skills on your resume will make you seem dated.

Tighten Up Your Resume

Ready to ditch the soft skills and make your resume streamlined, specific, and impactful? Our resume writing team can help. Contact Grammar Chic Inc. at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

 

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6 Non-Technical Ways to Boost Your SEO

Search engine optimization isn’t rocket science—although, to be fair, it can sure seem that way at times. You can get pretty deep into the technical dimensions of SEO, which for small business owners who lack a tech background can be daunting. But here’s the good news: There are some completely non-technical, novice-friendly SEO strategies that can actually have a big impact on your site’s visibility and rankings. In this post, we’ll share just six things you can do to make Google love your site more—no advanced technical training required.

Simple Ways to Ramp Up Your SEO

Make a User-Friendly URL

Sometimes, URLs will default to random strings of letters and numbers—but that’s obviously not very helpful to users (or search bots) trying to determine what the page is about. Make sure each page of your site (and each blog post) has a short and descriptive title—for example, the page where you can learn more about the Grammar Chic content marketing services is www.grammarchic.net/content-marketing-services. Right to the point! Content management systems like WordPress usually make it quite easy to change your URL to whatever you want it to be.

Structure Your Site for Readability

You can enhance user experience (UX) and SEO by designing a website that guides the reader from top to bottom—that is, from headline to call to action. Make sure the headline itself is compelling, and that you break up the content with descriptive section sub-headings. Use bulleted lists when you can.

Place Keywords in Strategic Places

You don’t have to do a lot of complicated math to figure out the desired keyword density for a Web page. Instead, just naturally and judiciously insert keywords in titles, section headings, and meta descriptions, then perhaps once or twice in the content itself. Always make sure they feel natural, not cumbersome to read.

Enrich Your Content

Make sure each page has an image, video, GIF, infographic, or something else to provide added interest. You shouldn’t have just isolated blocks of black-and-white text.

Link to Relevant Resources

Internal linking is key to SEO success. If there are other pages of your site—or blog posts, for that matter—that augment the page in question, include strategic links to them. There’s really no right or wrong number of internal links. We’d just caution you to make sure the links you include really are relevant and helpful.

Encourage Social Sharing

When a piece of online content is shared on social media, that signals to the search algorithms that it’s useful—that is deserves a prominent ranking. Share your own content on social media, but also make sure you enable the social sharing buttons that let others quickly and conveniently share your content. Again, WordPress and other content management systems make this pretty easy.

Going Further with Your SEO

As you can see, there are plenty of small steps you can take to seriously improve your SEO effectivity. To go even further—to get content that’s written to rank and to convert—we encourage you to call the Grammar Chic, Inc. team today. Reach out to us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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3 Reasons to Marry Content Marketing with PPC

One of the oldest debates in digital marketing is the ongoing clash of organic versus paid reach. Should you focus your marketing efforts on earned users (i.e., through compelling content and organic SEO) or paid users (i.e., through online ad placement)?

The answer, of course, is that there is no reason why you can’t do both, and in fact, we believe it is increasingly vital for content marketers to pair their organic approach with pay per click (PPC) ads, which might include paid Facebook ads, sponsored tweets, and Google AdWords placement.

Paid ads and content marketing work best when they work together—and in this post, we’ll offer you three reasons why.

Dominate the SERP

One reason to consider content marketing and paid search as two sides of the same coin: When you do so, you can expand your reach over the search engine results page (SERP). Through content and SEO efforts, you can earn listings within the organic search results themselves—but what about the rest of the page? What about the paid ad spaces at the top and along the column of Google? You can only claim that real estate through AdWords.

In other words, you need both PPC and organic reach to blanket the SERP—and when you do so, you not only increase your brand’s visibility, but you earn trust. Any company that’s present in both paid product ads and organic search listings can’t help but be seen as a primary contender within its industry.

Get More Eyeballs on Your Content

Your content is only meaningful when people have a chance to see it and engage with it—and paid ads can help with that. Consider Facebook. You can use paid ads to get more likes for your company page, and then, once people engage your page, you can keep them there with regular, organic content updates. This is a perfect example of how these two disciplines can work harmoniously.

Span the Entire Customer Journey

One of the big pushes in marketing these days is the search experience—that is, using all the tools at your disposal to address the needs of customers at each stage of their journey. In other words, you need to be working to build awareness for your brand, then to educate your leads, and ultimately to lead them through the conversion process. Even after the conversion, you need to stay in touch with clients to earn repeat business and referrals.

PPC and content marketing both speak to different stages of the customer journey. For instance, content marketing can be a great way to build brand awareness, to educate, and to earn trust. Paid ads, meanwhile, can encourage conversions during searches with commercial intent, while paid remarketing can help you to stay close to former customers.

It All Starts with a Plan

How can you integrate paid and organic marketing on your brand’s behalf? The first step is to develop an integrated marketing plan. That’s something we can help with. Reach out to Grammar Chic to start a conversation. Connect at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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6 Ways Your Resume Can Make You Look Unprofessional

Your resume is a piece of marketing collateral—and what it’s marketing is you. A good resume will help you to look competent, dependable, hard-working, and professional—but of course, the inverse also holds true: A bad resume can compromise your appeal as a job candidate, and in some cases cause you to come across as downright unprofessional.

But you can avoid that by putting some time into honing your resume—and we’ll show you how. In this post, we’re going to list six resume goofs that can seriously damage your professional image. Needless to say, you’ll want to avoid them—and if you’re not sure how, reach out to our resume writing team for an assist!

Avoid These Resume Writing Blunders

Here are six things that cause your resume to undercut your professionalism:

  1. Goofy, juvenile, or inconsistent font use. It’s fine if you like Comic Sans, but it’s not fine to use it on a resume—nor is it acceptable to toggle between different fonts throughout the resume. Stick with the agreed-upon, readable resume fonts—Calibri or Helvetica.
  2. Using vague descriptors. Terms like hard-working, driven, and motivated are unprovable—which means they are basically meaningless. Cut them from your resume, and stick with quantifiable and specific descriptors instead.
  3. Including a head shot on your resume. Unless you are applying to be a supermodel, there’s no need to include a picture on your resume.
  4. Ending your resume with half a page to go. We’re all about keeping your resume concise, but you don’t want half a page of blank space at the bottom. Make sure you fill out the entire document.
  5. Using an unprofessional email address. Your handle should be some variation on your own name—plain and simple.
  6. Sending your resume without a cover letter. Or, getting an interview, but then failing to send a thank-you note. Your resume works best when it’s sent in tandem with these other documents!

Write a Resume That Makes You Shine

Your resume should give the impression that you are a consummate professional—and any one of these mistakes can undermine that impression. Avoid them—but also be proactive in writing a resume where your appeal as a candidate shines through. We can help; reach out to the Grammar Chic team to ask about our resume writing services. Contact us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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How Your Blog Can Sell Without Selling

Content marketing is sometimes described as the art of selling without selling. That is, content marketing is meant to facilitate conversions in a way that is decidedly non-salesy; the focus is always supposed to be on providing real value (not hard sales pitches) to the consumer, but doing so in a way that ultimately helps your bottom line.

This is not an easy balance to strike. Take your company blog, for instance. You can probably understand why it’s not a good idea to make each post a straightforward advertisement for one of your products or services: Simply put, it wouldn’t be very engaging, and not many people would read it. On the flipside, if you write blog posts without ever even mentioning your products and services, you may fear that the blog won’t have any practical effect on your sales.

So how can you write company blog posts that sell without coming across as too confrontational, too over-the-top, or too aggressive? We have some tips for you.

Write Blogs That Sell (Without Being Salesy)

Always focus on your audience. The guiding question of each post should be, “What’s in it for my audience?” Write to provide value not just to your brand but to your readers. Make sure your topics and your takeaway points are relevant to the people you’re targeting with your blog.

Give away valuable information. In keeping with the point above, make your blog a place where you give away expertise that your customers can use. Don’t hesitate to give away your “secret weapons” and your tried-and-true practices. This is how you build trust in your own expertise—by being confident enough to give it away.

Don’t write about yourself. Your posts don’t actually need to be about your brand. In fact, to keep them relevant to your readers, it’s probably smarter to write about your industry more broadly, or about the way your trade/profession brings value to consumers.

Don’t mention your brand in every sentence. Your blog can absolutely mention your company name—in fact, we recommend it—but a couple of mentions is probably fine, perhaps in the call to action at the article’s end. Too many mentions of your brand will definitely cause the post to read as “salesy.”

Maintain a conversational tone. Read your blog post out loud, and simply ask yourself: Does it sound like something you’d say in real life? If not, you may want to modify it a bit so that it’s less formal.

Include a CTA. By writing blog posts that earn credibility through giving away free and valuable information, you create the opportunity to end your post with a strong sales pitch—just a sentence or two inviting your reader to contact you for further value.

We Can Help

Writing blogs that are credible, value-adding, and effective is a big part of what we do here at Grammar Chic, Inc. We’d love to handle blogging for your brand. Reach out to us today to learn more: www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing, Social Media, Writing

Why Should You Improve Your Meta Descriptions? Because Google Says So.

Here’s a lesson from SEO 101: When Google makes announcements or recommendations, it’s always best to listen. Believe it or not, Google tries to help Web developers, marketers, and small business owners thrive in their SEO efforts, and that includes all aspects, ranging from site layout to meta descriptions.

Meta descriptions just happen to be the subject of the latest Google proclamation. In a recent announcement, Google indicated some changes to how they generate meta data—and also offers some advice for writing meta descriptions that get results.

What is a Meta Description?

Before we get into that, here’s a quick reminder: The meta description is the text you see accompanying each listing on the Google search engine results page (SERP). When you conduct a search, Google will provide you with a list of links, and under each link you’ll see some brief text that explains what the site is about. That’s Google’s way of helping users determine which of those links are most relevant to their interests.

Having a good meta description is important—but you don’t have to take our word for it. Here’s what Google says in its latest announcement: “Good meta descriptions are short blurbs that describe accurately the content of the page. They are like a pitch that convince the user that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.”

Short version: You want Google to display a really compelling meta description for your site—one that will convince people to click the link and read your content.

How Google Determines the Meta Description

So how does Google generate meta descriptions? According to the new announcement, Google’s algorithms will first scan the site itself and try to extract content that fits the search query—in other words, seeking something relevant to whatever search terms the user entered.

If Google’s bots cannot find a good passage to extract, though, they will display the meta description you wrote yourself. Of course, it’s vital to make sure that you’ve got some good, engaging text for Google to use. Google has helpfully shared some pointers on how to make your meta descriptions compelling.

What Not to Do with Your Meta Descriptions

Specifically, Google notes that meta descriptions fail for a few different reasons. One reason is that there simply isn’t one; when you forget to manually write a meta description, you’re sacrificing a key SEO opportunity.

Other common errors include using the same meta description for every page of your site; writing meta descriptions that are off-topic; or making meta descriptions that are spammy rather than informative.

One more thing: Word count. Technically, there’s no limit on your meta description, as Google will display as many characters as will fit on the device in question. Our rule of thumb is 150 characters or so, which will generally prevent your meta description from being cut off due to screen limitations.

Need Help with Your Meta Descriptions?

There is both art and science to writing good meta descriptions, and Grammar Chic, Inc. can help you strike the right balance—all while complying with Google’s directives. Let’s talk about meta descriptions, and any other content writing needs you may have. Connect with us at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Business Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing

Give Google Exactly What it Wants

Here at Grammar Chic, our pet nickname for Google is the Content Monster. You see, the world’s most powerful search engine is like a beast that’s constantly hungry; if you want to stay in its good graces—that is, maintain online visibility and SEO prominence—you’ve got to throw it some chow on a pretty consistent basis.

And it helps to know exactly what kinds of grub this Content Monster likes to devour.

Regular content publication is certainly crucial, but it’s especially beneficial to post content that fits within the Content Monster’s regular diet; in other words, you don’t want to feed it just anything. There is such a thing as bad content—stuff Google just spits back out. No, you want to make sure the Content Monster is enjoying all of its favorite delicacies.

So what does that mean, exactly?

Allow us to show you, with a quick rundown of Google’s favorite kinds of content.

This is the Content That Google Loves

Long Form Articles

We’ve blogged before about word count, and noted that in some cases, a shorter article just makes more sense. With that said, Google is in the business of providing substantive answers and thorough solutions to its users—so if you’re able to put together a really rigorous and in-depth article that spans 1,500-2,000 words, that’s certainly something the Content Monster will eat up.

Evergreen Posts

If you’re writing about a topic that will be old-hat or out-of-date by tomorrow morning, you can’t really expect to score long-time search engine prominence. While flashy, hot topic posts have their place, those timeless topics are the ones that will more likely win you the Content Monster’s favor.

Lists and Galleries

The human brain seeks organization, and tends to like information that’s laid out in a clear, easy-to-follow format—like a top 10 list. Google knows this, and lends priority to articles that are structured in this way.

Resource Banks

What we mean by resource bank is, any article that will lead search engine users to still more good content. For example, a used car dealership could post its list of the top 10 best family cars, and under each entry on the list it could have a link to a separate, in-depth review of the vehicle. Google likes its users to be able to keep clicking, keep searching, and keep discovering more—so use that to your advantage with inter-connected posts.

Videos

You don’t want to post a video without some kind of caption or written synopsis, but you can make video a focal point of your content marketing campaign. The Content Monster isn’t going to object.

A final note: What Google ultimately wants is anything that provides good, relevant, and actionable information to users—period. Make that your guiding concern in content creation.

Feed the Content Monster

Keeping up with the constant demands of the Content Monster is tough—but we can help. Let’s talk about Grammar Chic’s content marketing services and how they can benefit your business. Reach out to us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Brand Management, Business Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing, Social Media, Web Content