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Tag Archive | career

How to write much better

write well, how to write, ielts, toefl, English exam, language, learn

or not.

1. Avoid alliteration. Always.

2. Prepositions are not to end sentence with. 

3. Avoid clichès like the plague (They’re old hat.).

4. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

5. One should never generalize.

6. Comparisons are as bad as clichès. 

7. Be more or less specific.

8. Sentence fragments. Eliminate.

9. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

10. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

11. Who needs rhetorical questions?

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Lost in Long Sentences?

Written by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Syntax Training

When reading essays, books, and novels, many people enjoy traveling through long, complex sentences with twists and turns that lead to a satisfying end. But in business writing, readers want a short, clear path to understanding. Follow the four tips below to edit long sentences.

1. Include just one idea per sentence. When sentences have several ideas, readers need to figure out the relationship between the ideas. They need to suspend their understanding until they get to the period (full stop). In contrast, readers can quickly grasp each one-idea sentence and move on to the next.

The sentence below packs in three ideas. The punctuation makes is easy to recognize them.

I hope you will be able to attend, and if you need more information, please call or email me, and I will be glad to help you.
This revision shows that each idea can be a crisp sentence: I hope you will be able to attend. If you need more information, please call or email me. I will be glad to help you.

Test Yourself Number 1: Revise this three-idea sentence, whose length makes readers move slowly:

Our credit department has requested that you provide a copy of your exempt sales tax document and that you fill out the top and signature portion of the credit application just for assurance that we have the pertinent contact information correct.
Revise the sentence to communicate just one idea per sentence. After you have tried, you can check my revision. It appears at the end of this article.
2. Begin with the subject, not the windup. 
In baseball, the windup is the pitcher’s actions before releasing the ball. Although important to the pitcher, the windup can distract the batter. The same is true of readers: If you begin a sentence with a fancy windup, you may lose your readers before releasing your main idea. Instead, start with your subject.This sentence has a dizzying windup, which makes it too long and complicated:

With over a decade of experience with programming, network security, reverse engineering, cryptography design and cryptanalysis, and attacking protocols, and significant expertise in information security, Lance James provides consultation to businesses ranging from small startups to governments, Fortune 500s, and top financial institutions.
If the sentence began with the subject, Lance James, rather than the long windup, it would be two clearer sentences:
Lance James has over a decade of experience with programming, network security, reverse engineering, cryptography design and cryptanalysis, and attacking protocols, and significant expertise in information security. He provides consultation to businesses ranging from small startups to governments, Fortune 500s, and top financial institutions.
Test Yourself Number 2: Start with the subject rather than the long windup in this sentence, so readers do not struggle to understand its meaning:
By keeping the three critical success factors in mind and talking with your unit manager or your peer coach whenever you find yourself struggling with an employee issue, you should have the greatest opportunity for success as a new supervisor.

My revision appears at the end of the article.

3. When a sentence is too long or has more than one idea, try inserting a period (full stop) in place of the word andSometimes your sentences will ramble on because you have forgotten to take a breath and give your reader one. Replacing and with a period may help, as it would in this sentence:
Thanks for your cooperation on this project and we look forward to meeting with you to discuss the items above.
This revision communicates in two powerful sentences: Thanks for your cooperation. We look forward to meeting with you to discuss the items above.Sometimes replacing and with a period requires the addition of a word. In the sentence below, which word would you use to replace and? 

The navigation panel on the left side of the screen is the same for all contractors and helps them navigate through the site to find what they need quickly.

Your revision might look like mine: The navigation panel on the left side of the screen is the same for all contractors. It helps them navigate through the site to find what they need quickly.

Test Yourself Number 3: Break up this long sentence by inserting a period and replacing and. Then compare your revision with mine, which appears at the end of the article.

Recently there have been several calls and emails from individuals who are using an MS Excel version dated earlier than 2007 and are not able to save their changes based on the instructions provided in the guidelines.

4. Do not let a long list transform your sentence into a solid wall of text. Often you need to include a list in your writing. But a sentence burdened with a long list can become a blur to your reader. If that happens, your reader will not see any of the important information in your list. The solution is to break up the long, heavy sentence into bullet points or short sentences that keep your reader’s attention.

How would you revise this list-heavy sentence?

Your daily work will include counseling managers on issues ranging from major incidents to employee communications and community relations, representing the company with various groups, supporting the needs of individual plants, managing strategic media opportunities and crisis communications, placing community advertising, and publicizing company efforts in environmental stewardship.
This revision helps each point stand out for the reader:
Your daily work will include:
  • Counseling managers on issues ranging from major incidents to employee communications and community relations.
  • Representing the company with various groups.
  • Supporting the needs of individual plants.
  • Managing strategic media opportunities and crisis communications.
  • Placing community advertising.
  • Publicizing company efforts in environmental stewardship.
Test Yourself Number 4: Restructure this long sentence so that each part stands out:
If new information concerning the case should come to your attention, if you should leave the area for more than a few days, or if you should change your address or telephone number, please advise Marie Smith or your insurance agent immediately.
How long is too long? Sometimes long sentences are not difficult to understand. But a document filled with long, complex sentences will slow down readers and could lose them. Strive for an average of no more than 20 words per sentence–15 is better. Also, do not allow yourself to include sentences of more than 35 words in your final draft. If a sentence gets that long, break it in two (or three) or cut words.
Solution to Number 1:
Our credit department has requested that you provide a copy of your exempt sales tax document. Also, please fill out the top and signature portion of the credit application. This step is just for assurance that we have the pertinent contact information correct.
Solution to Number 2:  
You should have the greatest opportunity for success as a new supervisor if you do these two things: Keep the three critical success factors in mind. Talk with your unit manager or your peer coach whenever you find yourself struggling with an employee issue.
Solution to Number 3:
Recently there have been several calls and emails from individuals who are using an MS Excel version dated earlier than 2007. They are not able to save their changes based on the instructions provided in the guidelines.
Solution to Number 4: 
Please immediately advise Marie Smith or your insurance agent if any of these occurs:
  • New information concerning the case comes to your attention.

  • You leave the area for more than a few days.

  • You change your address or telephone number.

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The 50 Best Books for the Unemployed

Being unemployed can be stressful, frustrating and depressing, especially in an economy where jobs are scarce, competition is fierce, and there doesn’t seem to be much change on the horizon…

While things may seem bleak, it’s important to keep your chin up and your motivation high if you’re going to make your way back into the working world or move from college into your first job. There is no arguing that unemployment stinks, but it can be an opportunity as well, a chance to reevaluate who you are, what you want in your career, learn more about and hone your abilities. These books will help you look at the silver lining of unemployment,and suggest that you spend your time away from work learning, growing and ultimately becoming a better employee.

Inspiration

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Don’t sit around the house moping if you’re unemployed. Read these books to get inspired and reignite your drive to find work, start a business or be the successful person you know you can be.

  1. The Unemployed Millionaire: Escape the Rat Race, Fire Your Boss and Live Life on YOUR Terms! by Matt Morris: Once homeless and heavily in debt, Matt Morris knows what it’s like to be down and out. In this book, he shares how he turned his life around, created a new career and made millions, offering steps that could help inspire you to start your own business or break out of your unemployment slump.
  2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey: This classic book will show you some simple, but powerful, ways to be a better leader and employee and change how you see yourself and your life.
  3. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss: Why work harder when you can work smarter? In this book, you’ll learn some tricks that will let you work less and live more when you start your own business.
  4. Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson: If you’ve been throwing around the idea of starting your own business, this book is a must-read. It offers inspirational advice on everything from dealing with customers to effective time management.
  5. Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale: A motivational classic written by Boston-native Dr. Norman Peale, this book can help you to stop focusing on the negative in life and start seeing what good things you have going on. The attitude shift could be just the change you need to get your life back on track.
  6. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen: You’re only as successful as you allow yourself to think you’ll be, or that’s the lesson this book aims to teach. While it doesn’t promise success simply as a result of thought a la The Secret, it does show how changing your way of thinking can change your level of happiness, outlook on life and belief in yourself– all stepping stones to success in any facet of life.
  7. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson: Change is a fact of life, but so many of us have a hard time coping with it when it happens to us. You may no longer have your job, but this book will show you some powerful lessons that will help you deal with change, create new goals and find your new inner “cheese.” Johnson received his psychology bachelor from the University of Southern California and his M.D. degree from the Royal College of Surgeons.
  8. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny by Anthony Robbins: Whether you buy into the lessons espoused by motivational and self-help speakers or not, this book can help you to break out of an unemployment funk. How? By reminding you that no one can get you a new job, career or business but you.
  9. Your Best Year Yet!: Ten Questions for Making the Next Twelve Months Your Most Successful Ever by Jinny S. Ditzler: Parts of your year might have sucked pretty bad, but this book offers some hope that things can be better. Learn how to set goals, determine your core values and focus your energy where it matters most.
  10. What Should I Do With My Life? The Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question by Po Bronson: You might be sitting there right now wondering what you should do with your life. There are no easy or right answers, but this book shares some touching stories of others who were searching for and sometimes finding their true callings– an amazing source of inspiration for anyone feeling lost.

Just for the Unemployed

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Learn more about dealing with unemployment and commiserate with others who’ve lost their jobs.

  1. The Adventures of Unemployed Man by Erich Origen, Gan Golan, Ramona Fradon and Rick Veitch: Taking a humorous look at unemployment, this graphic novel follows the hero Unemployed Man and his sidekick Plan B as they battle the villainous The Just Us League.
  2. iJobless: 50 Ways to Survive Unemployment by Jenny Holmes: Offering tips on lowering your monthly expenses, making money and staying motivated, this book aims to help you be, oddly enough, successful at being unemployed.
  3. $100K to Nothing: My Journey From a Six Figure Income to the Unemployment Line in the Worst Economy of Our Time by Dan Holt: A story that is all too common these days, Dan Holt lost his job in 2009 and has struggled to find a new one. In this book, he documents his experiences and shares advice that can help others in the same situation get back to work.
  4. Unemployment: The Shocking Truth of Its Causes, Its Outrageous Consequences And What Can Be Done About It by Jack Stone and Joe McCraw: Taking on the negatives of capitalism head on, this highly political read may not be for everyone, but for the unemployed it can help put a face on the many forces that helped contribute to job loss.
  5. Little Victories: Conquering Unemployment by Tom Brophy: Learn how to battle the depression and frustration that can come with unemployment – and celebrate the little victories that happen along the way – as you work your way back into a job with help from Department of Labor veteran Tim Brophy.
  6. The Unemployment Survival Guide by Jim Stringham and David Workman: While you might not feel that you’re going to get through being unemployed, you will, and this book will show you how, offering tips and tools to help you grow and learn while unemployed.
  7. Gainfully Unemployed: 17 Ways to Maintain Your Sanity While Looking for Work by Jonathan Wade: If you’re pulling out your hair, staying up all night and generally stressing out about unemployment, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Read this book to learn how to stay sane and keep busy while out of work.
  8. Landing on the Right Side of Your Ass: A Survival Guide for the Recently Unemployed by Michael B. Laskoff: You might be out on your ass from your last job, but this book shows you that it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. A veteran of downsizing, Laskoff (New York) shares the steps of grieving for a lost jobs and the process necessary to move on.
  9. Rebound: A Proven Plan for Starting Over After Job Loss by Martha I. Finney: Just like getting dumped, getting laid off can be an emotional and trying experience. In this book, you’ll find advice on protecting yourself, moving forward and finding a sexy new job to rebound with.
  10. Unemployment Boot Camp: Tactics for Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century by R. A. Long: Need some help kicking your unemployed butt into gear? Based on military-style thinking, this book will help you develop your own battle plans to survive and thrive during unemployment.
  11. The Healthcare Survival Guide, Cost-Saving Options for The Suddenly Unemployed and Anyone Else Who Wants to Save Money by Martin B. Rosen and M.D. Abbie Leibowitz: One of the biggest worries for many who have lost their jobs is how to keep up with health insurance without going broke. This book offers some great advice and information that can make that less of a worry, so you can concentrate on finding a job.

Motivation

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Keeping your motivation levels high is key when looking for work, so give these books a read for a dose of inspiration that will help you push yourself on to bigger and better things.

  1. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz: This book teaches that a positive and optimistic mindset can go a long way, even when things seem at their worst. Learn how to turn your unemployment into an advantage and get motivated to meet your goals through this popular self-help read.
  2. 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself: Change Your Life Forever by Steve Chandler: Those in dire need of motivation should check out this book for advice on creating your own action plan and changing self-limiting behaviors that may be holding you back.
  3. Jobless: How to Quit Your Day Job and Start Your Climb to the Top by Alan De Keyrel: You’ve already got the lack of a day job part done, so now you can start working on climbing to the top with the help of this inspirational book.
  4. Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success by John Maxwell: You might think losing your job was a failure, but as this book will teach you it may simply give you the motivation and experience you need for future success.
  5. The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life by Laurie Beth Jones: Do you know what you want out of life? Out of work? In this book, you’ll learn how to figure out your life path and what the power of setting goals can offer to you in your professional life.
  6. Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills That Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed by Brian Tracy: If you’re unemployed, you’re probably not feeling that you’re really living up to your true potential. Yet this book offers up some ways that you can get back into the game and start using all those skills, even some you didn’t know you had, to find success in life and business.
  7. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath: Unemployment can make you feel weak and helpless, but if you want to get back into work, you’ve got to know your strengths. Use this book to figure out where your true gifts lie– you might just be surprised.
  8. Motion Before Motivation: The Success Secret That Never Fails by Michael J. Dolphies: The lesson of this book? All the planning, talking and thinking about doing things is great, but the only thing that really matters is what you do.
  9. Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams by Mike Dooley: This book asks readers to look inside themselves to find inspiration and spiritual guidance that can bring greater happiness and help you to more adeptly work towards meeting your goals in life, which in the short term might just mean finding a job.

Networking and Business

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These books offer help and assistance with finding success in business and meeting people who may be able to help you find work.

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie: Whether you’re the CEO of a company or an unemployed person, this book is an essential read for anyone in the business world. First published in 1937, the book offers some fundamentals for understanding human nature that can make you more likeable – and ultimately more hirable.
  2. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino: Getting a job is really a matter of knowing how to sell yourself. In this book, you’ll get classic sales tips that may just help you finally find a new job.
  3. Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead by Nancy Ancowitz: If you’ve always been the shy and retiring type, finding work can be doubly stressful. Luckily, there are books like this one that will teach even the shiest job seeker how to market themselves.
  4. Louder Than Words: Take Your Career from Average to Exceptional with the Hidden Power of Nonverbal Intelligence by Joe Navarro: Want to know if you’re doing well in an interview or not? You could learn volumes by learning to better read body language, a skill this book will help you to hone.
  5. Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever Need by Harvey Mackay: While you might be pretty thirsty for work right now, this book still has some amazing networking tips to offer that can help anyone, even those already in desperate need of a job, make connections that can lead to employment, contract work and more.
  6. Think Better: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking by Tim Hurson: Tim Hurston shares some insights into what it takes to be a leading entrepreneur in this book, a great read for anyone considering starting their own business.
  7. Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi: This book will help you learn some networking skills that could just land you a new job – or at least a few interviews.
  8. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini: If you want to get others to do as you wish, like hire you, you have to be a master of persuasion. Learn more about how persuasion works and how you can use that to your advantage in this book.
  9. Work Less, Live More by Bob Clyatt: Bob Clyatt worked hard and retired at the age of 42. Then, he lost much of his savings when the stock market tanked. In this book, he shares how he’s taken on part-time work– something the unemployed may want to consider as an option as well to help make ends meet.
  10. Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina: Personal development guru Steve Pavlina’s book will help you learn to create goals, take charge of your life, get motivated and work hard to get where you want in life.

Job Hunting

man-job-search-620jt100812Job hunting is rarely an entertaining activity, but it can be a lot more stressful when you’re unemployed. These books will show you how to take charge, impress employers and get back to work faster.

  1. What Color is Your Parachute? 2011: A Practical Manual for Job-hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles: Perhaps one of the most popular job hunting books of all time, here you’ll find powerful advice on every aspect of the job hunt, from the best way to find job openings to building a better resume.
  2. Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design by Laurence G. Boldt: Use this book to figure out what you want to do and how to actively take steps to make those career goals a reality.
  3. The Job-Hunter’s Survival Guide: How to Find Hope and Rewarding Work, Even When ‘There Are No Jobs by Richard Bolles: Another great read from Richard Bolles, this book serves up some advice for job hunters who are desperately in need of some guidance when it comes to finding work.
  4. Work at Home Now: The No-Nonsense Guide to Finding Your Perfect Home-Based Job by Christine Durst and Michael Haaren: Many people these days telecommute to work, and it may be possible for you to find a job like this as well. Learn more about home-based jobs and the best places to look for them in this helpful book.
  5. Powerful Unemployment: Practical and innovative ideas for staying motivated and having fun while looking for a new job by Sheila Boddy: This book contains a step-by-step guide that will take readers through the often scary waters of unemployment and give them the confidence and knowledge to find the opportunities they’ve been waiting for.
  6. Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0: How to Stand Out from the Crowd and Tap Into the Hidden Job Market using Social Media and 999 other Tactics Today by Jay Conrad Levinson and David E. Perry: The market is packed with job hunters, many of them just as qualified as you are. So how can you stand out? This book offers some tips and tools that can help separate you from the herd.
  7. How to Say It on Your Resume: A Top Recruiting Director’s Guide to Writing the Perfect Resume for Every Job by Brad Karsh: When was the last time your revised your resume? It might just need an update, and this book can help make sure that your new and improved version will be best it can be.
  8. Acing the Interview: How to Ask and Answer the Questions That Will Get You the Job by Tony Beshara: Interviews are nerve-wracking, whether it’s your first time or your hundredth going through the process. In this book, help yourself to prepare for success in any interviewing situation.
  9. Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring: Take Charge of Your Career, Find a Job You Love, and Earn What You Deserve by Ford R. Myers: Finding a job during an economic crisis is, well, scary. This book will show you the different rules for looking for work in an economic downturn and what you need to do to develop your career while you wait for work.
  10. The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search: The Proven Program Used by the World’s Leading Career Services Company by Orville Pierson: Make your job search a smarter one by using these helping tools that some of the top career services agencies employ.

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How to write for the European Institutions

Are you an aspiring non-fiction author, or translator, maybe? Dreaming for a career in the European Parliament and/or Commission?

There you have two useful tools that will help you achieve the EU- English (house) style:

Writing in clear language can be difficult at the Commission, since much of the subject matter is complex and more and more is written in English by (and for) non-native speakers, or by native speakers who are beginning to lose touch with their language after years of working in a multilingual environment. We must nevertheless try to set an example by using language that is as clear, simple, and accessible as possible, out of courtesy to our readers and consideration for the image of the Commission.

  • How to write clearly

    (16 pages, PDF)

    1. Think before you write
    2. Focus on the reader — be direct and interesting
    3. Get your document into shape
    4. KISS: Keep It Short and Simple
    5. Make sense — structure your sentences
    6. Cut out excess nouns – verb forms are livelier
    7. Be concrete, not abstract
    8. Prefer active verbs to passive — and name the agent
    9. Beware of false friends, jargon and abbreviations
    10. Revise and check
    11. Online EU drafting aids

Yours europeanly,

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