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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10 Signs of Effective Website Content

How good is the content on your business website?

That’s an important question for every business owner to ask. When done right, your website content informs the reader, builds trust, and leads to the next stage in the sales funnel—a phone call, an appointment, or even a purchase.

When done wrong, though, your website content is just an online placeholder. A waste of valuable space.

So how can you tell that you’re in that first column with your website material? Here are 10 hallmarks you can look for.

10 Signs Your Website Content is On Point

  1. You have original content on every page. It can be tempting to duplicate content from one product page to the next, or from one location page to the next—but duplication will sink your SEO rankings. Every page should be 100 percent distinct from the others.
  2. Your content is formatted for readability. Is it easy for users to read and skim your website material, on any device? Do you use section sub-headings, bulleted lists, and plenty of white space to ease readability?
  3. Your content is written with buyer personas in mind. Who are you writing for? Who’s your target audience? And how can you ensure your website is answering the audience’s key questions and major pain points? Always tailor the content to the reader.
  4. You have calls to action on every page. Every page should have a clear invitation for the reader to take the next step in their journey—whether that means calling you for more information or simply navigating to the next page.
  5. Your content is substantive. This may seem a little esoteric—but what we really mean here is that your content isn’t flimsy. It should always offer a real, valuable takeaway message you’re your target audience. Always ask yourself: What’s in it for my reader?
  6. You have content information on every page. For local SEO purposes, it’s best to include full NAP (name, address, phone number) details on every page of your website.
  7. You offer a clear value proposition. What benefits do you offer to the end user? Why would a customer pick you over the competition? These are some of the most important questions for your website content to address.
  8. Your content has both internal and external links. For SEO purposes, it’s ideal to include some judicious internal links to relevant pages, and also to feature some links to authoritative external sites (not your competitors, of course).
  9. Your content conveys trust. How are you building relationships and earning consumer confidence? Think in terms of seals, guarantees, testimonials, and summaries of your industry authority and expertise.
  10. Your content is reviewed and refreshed regularly. We recommend auditing your content at least once a year, and refreshing it as needed. For SEO purposes, a content refresh can be invaluable—try to schedule one every couple of years.

These are a just a few of the signs that your website content is written to perform. If your site doesn’t match these criteria, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our website content writing experts. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. for a free evaluation via www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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5 Ways to Customize Your Resume and Get the Job You Want

There’s never anything cookie-cutter about the job search. Your resume will inevitably be different from the next applicant’s—and what’s more, your resume should change and evolve with every job you apply for.

That’s right—you really need a different resume for each position, one that’s tailored to address the job in question. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to rewrite your resume from scratch each time, but it does mean you should take some time to customize. There are a few ways you can do that.

Use Language from the Job Posting

The ultimate goal of customization is to prove that you read the job description, and to convince the hiring manager that you fit it to a T. That means paying close attention to the verbiage of the job listing itself. How does the employer describe this position? Which words and phrases are used to describe the ideal candidate? Whenever possible, incorporate those words and phrases into your resume. (For example, maybe your resume lists team building, but the job description says team development; there’s no reason not to tweak your resume to match the language of your potential employer.)

Think in Terms of Pain Points

Stop and think about the job you’re applying for. What pain points is it meant to address? What problems is it meant to solve? What issues must the company be having to necessitate this new position—too much turnover? Too much employee demand? Slowed sales growth? Consider ways in which your resume can position you as the solution to these problems. Pitch yourself as a useful resource for whatever issues the company’s facing.

Cut Irrelevant Jobs

One of the most basic ways to customize your resume is to delete, or at least minimize, older jobs that don’t have any relevance to the one you’re seeking. The goal here is to craft a narrative, and to ensure that everything on your resume showcases your qualification for the job in question. If you have entries in your career history that don’t match the position you’re applying for, downplay them to make that narrative as streamlined and as uncluttered as possible.

Make Use of Your Executive Summary

You can’t assume that a hiring manager will read your entire resume from top to bottom—so spell out your most important qualifications early on. This is where your executive summary comes into play. Tweak this section for each job you apply for, making sure it covers some of the most qualifying skills and achievements of your career, as relative to the position you’re applying for.

Hire a Resume Writer

A final step to effective resume customization: Hire a professional resume writer, who will have ample experience in crafting resumes to match specific positions. If there’s a job you’re zealous for, send the listing, and your resume, to the Grammar Chic team, and we’ll be glad to help you make the proper modifications. Learn more by contacting Grammar Chic, Inc. today, via www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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5 Reasons Your Business Should Have a Content Marketing Strategy

Content creation. Content distribution. Data and analytics. These are all important components of any content marketing campaign. And yet, they can all be fairly meaningless if they’re not united by a broader sense of strategy.

Your content marketing strategy provides you guidance on what you’re trying to achieve; how you’ll achieve it; and how you’ll define success. It clarifies the kind of content you need to create, and the channels you need and don’t need as you distribute that content.  A good strategy can help you use all your content marketing resources effectively, and it also ensures that the content you create is consistently on-message.

Before you do anything else, then—before you write a blog, make a video, or post to social media—it’s important to have a documented strategy. In creating this content marketing strategy, you’ll reap a number of big benefits.

You’ll have clearly defined goals.

The first benefit is that you’ll have some sense of what you’re trying to achieve. Are you producing content to educate and inform potential customers, making things easier on your sales team? Is it purely for SEO? Are you trying to develop industry-wide thought leadership and authority?

All of these are noble and attainable goals, but you need to clarify them so you know what kind of content to write.

You’ll have metrics in place.

Not only does a content marketing strategy help you set goals, but it also forces you to define success. How will you know when your content marketing efforts are doing what they’re supposed to? Which metrics will you look toward? What kind of reporting do you need to measure your content’s effectiveness?

A content marketing strategy provides you with the answers to these questions—and helps you to say for certain whether or not you’re achieving the right results with your content efforts.

You’ll define your audience.

Your content won’t be effective unless you tailor it to your audience—which means, of course, that you have to know who that audience is.

A content marketing strategy should lead you to think critically about who you’re trying to reach, and ideally to create buyer personas to ensure that you address your audience with as much precision as possible.

You’ll discover the right channels.

Regular content creation on YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Twitter—to say nothing of blogs and emails—may prove both costly and time-consuming. But what if you don’t actually need all those channels? What if, to meet your goals and address your audience, you really just need two or three of them?

That could prove tremendously advantageous to the bottom line—and with a content marketing strategy in place, you’ll have a much more accurate sense of which channels you really need and which you can do without.

You’ll understand your content creation needs.

Content marketing always involves a question of how much. How much content do you need? How often should you be blogging, posting to social media, and sending out emails? It’s important to get the right frequency, and in some cases this might require you to outsource some of your content development tasks to a company like Grammar Chic.

When you thoughtfully craft a content marketing strategy, it helps illuminate your content needs, and give you some sense of whether or not you need that extra hand in content creation.

Are you ready to create a content marketing strategy?

Without a strategy to guide you, your content marketing efforts will really just be guesswork. Get more out of your efforts—clearer goals, better results, more judicious spending—by getting a strategy in place.

We’d love to help you brainstorm one. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to set up a consultation. Reach us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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