Tag Archive | job

Business Writing Truths and Myths

Written by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Syntax Training

For the 25 years I have taught classes in business writing, I have heard and rejected a few myths. And I have learned and applied some important truths. Don’t let yourself be fooled by false rules that others may follow. Recognize and apply what makes sense.  

Is each of the five statements below a truth, a myth, or a mix of both depending on the situation? You decide. Read More…

Deciphering the 123 Most Common Business Acronyms

By Kat Moon

Ever feel like your co-workers—or, worse, your boss—are speaking to you in a different language? No, I’m not talking about your team suddenly deciding to conduct a meeting entirely in French. I’m talking about what often seems to be the language of the business world: acronyms.

While some of us have the guts to ask for clarification when we have no idea what’s being said, others of us cringe at the thought of asking potentially “stupid” questions. Well, to everyone in the latter group: Today’s your lucky day. We’ve rounded up abbreviations for the most commonly used terms that you’re likely to run into at work (or more likely, in an email).

Better yet, they’re categorized by department, so you can prep before a meeting with your finance, technical, or marketing teams. (And because we’re pretty sure that, regardless of your role, you don’t want to be the only one who nods with a confused smile when there’s a RFD because the CTR for your website decreased and a QA test is required by EOD.)

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GENERAL

BID: Break it down

COB: Close of business

EOD: End of day

EOM: End of message

EOT: End of thread

EOW: End of week Read More…

When to Write a Memo, Not an Email

Written by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Syntax Training
Before emails demanded everyone’s attention, people communicated internally through a medium called the interoffice memorandum—the memo. We typed and printed it, signed or initialed it, and distributed it through interoffice mail to people who read it to make decisions, take action, or have essential information.

 

These days we have replaced memos with rampant emails. We have pushed email too far, expecting it to communicate long, complex, important messages to everyone. Our inboxes are stuffed, and those essential messages are not being read.

It’s time to take the pressure off emails. If you want people to read your important ideas and information, you need to revive the memo. Consider these suggestions:

1. Recognize the best uses of email. Emails win for fast, temporary communications that readers quickly read, act on, and delete. Emails excel at succinct requests and replies, speedy updates, short reminders or check-ins, time-sensitive announcements, and similar short-lived messages. They are perfect for briefly introducing attachments such as memos.

2. Use a memo when you are writing a message built to last. If your communication is a detailed proposal, a significant report, a serious recommendation, a technical explanation, meeting minutes, a new policy, or something else that readers will consult more than once, make it a memo. Your readers will be able to save the document, read it, and find it when they need the information again.

3. Use a memo when formatting matters. If the piece contains bullet points, bold headings, columns, tables, a graph, or even a good balance of white space, a memo will help you retain that formatting. To guarantee your formatting, save the memo as a PDF. If your audience reads emails on their phones, an attachment may be the only way to preserve the formatting you intend.

4. If people will print your communication, use a memo rather than an email. If your message belongs on a bulletin board—for example, in an employee break room—write a memo. If people will discuss your ideas at a meeting, write a memo to make it easy for them to print the document you intended. 

5. To communicate formally, choose a memo. Memos provide a place at the top of the message to insert the company name and logo and the professional titles of senders and receivers. Those inclusions make the message appear more formal. Also, a well-formatted message conveys significance.

6. When you worry that your message is too long as an email, write a memo. Impossibly long emails often result when you try to incorporate important, lasting information in them. But memos work best when people will return to your message for information. (See Point 2.) For instance, if you are communicating the details of the four-stage construction project, use a memo. To convey pros and cons of a major purchasing decision, lay out your research in a memo.

Attach your memo to an email that gives your readers a brief summary of the memo contents. For some readers, that summary will be enough. Those who need the information will read and save the memo.

7. To communicate complex information to people outside your organization (clients, citizens, etc.), consider a memo or a letter. A letter is the traditional format for external correspondence, especially to people you serve, such as customers and patients. But you can choose a memo to write to vendors, consultants, members, clients, professional peers, and others who collaborate with you to get results.

8. To send your memo, simply attach it to a brief email. Or send a printed copy through interoffice mail if that approach makes sense.

I have attached a sample memo to illustrate a standard format.

The memo is no dinosaur. Use it for your significant communications, and your messages will come across as professional, relevant, and of lasting importance.

Follow Syntax Training on Facebook and on Twitter @SyntaxLynn.

How to Recognize Sensitive Situations

Written by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Syntax Training

Sometimes you can recognize instantly that a message will lead to trouble. When you are angry or upset, you know better than to bang out a hostile email. But some sticky circumstances may not be obvious. Ask yourself these 10 questions to recognize potential problems. If you answer yes to any question, think twice or get advice before communicating in email.

office, communication, how to, learn English1. Could this be someone else’s news to share?

In your excitement about good news, you may want to broadcast the information quickly. Maybe your company has won the contract, grant, or lawsuit. Maybe the amazing candidate has accepted the job offer. But before you email the news, ask yourself whether it is YOUR news or someone else’s to share. Sharing news that is not yours can deflate other people’s pride and excitement. It can even suggest that you were responsible for the accomplishment. On the job, don’t think of yourself as a newscaster, sharing updates whenever they happen. Let the good news come from those who own it.

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2. Do certain people need to learn this news before others? 

People who will be most affected by news should receive it first. For instance, if several internal candidates apply for a position, the applicants should learn which one of them got the job before everyone in the company finds out. If a team will move to another city, the people on the team need the information before the entire company requires it. Informing people in advance shows them respect, and it eliminates the embarrassment of their not knowing before others do. Avoid needless problems by thinking about your various audiences before sending one all-company message.

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3. Could including others on the Cc line hurt someone’s feelings, relationships, or reputation?

It is easy to get in the habit of Ccing the team or replying to all to keep everyone informed. But everyone should NOT be informed when there is any chance that the information will embarrass or harm others. Tasks such as communicating constructive feedback, denying a request, disagreeing—even sending a straightforward reminder to someone who has missed a deadline—can create embarrassment and bad feelings when other people get a copy of the email. In these situations, do not Cc or reply to all. Communicate privately with the individual involved.

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4. Do I have feelings of discomfort about sending this message? Is there a small voice warning me not to do this?

When you have any doubts about sending an email, listen to them. Doubts and feelings of discomfort are huge signs of likely insensitive communication. Maybe the solution is to wait, not communicate, or ask your manager or your human resources representative for help. It is better to delay communicating than to have to heal a strained relationship or apologize for a serious blunder.

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5. Might my manager, my human resources rep, or another professional have advice for me to consider?

You may know that you need to communicate, and there is no small voice telling you not to. Yet other people may be able to help you express yourself more diplomatically or appropriately. When you suspect that your email will fall short and may damage relationships, seek advice from a trusted guide. The advice may be to call or meet in person rather than emailing.

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6. Would a face-to-face or phone conversation manage this situation more effectively? 

Sometimes email does not work because it is just crisp words on a screen, not the voice of a human being in conversation. Situations in which email may be insensitive are communicating bad news, denying a request, apologizing, and giving performance feedback. Email isn’t always wrong in these circumstances, but it can be.

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7. Could the timing of this communication be unfortunate for any reason? 

Sometimes a message is right but the timing is wrong. Maybe the timing affects one individual badly, or maybe a whole group will rebel if they receive such a message now. If an employee has just shared with you that his spouse is ill, for instance, he will not welcome a message saying overtime is required until the project is completed. If a team is preparing for a huge implementation, learning that the leader has given two weeks’ notice may cause an uproar. Such delicate situations don’t require that you hide the news but that you communicate it sensitively—maybe individually, maybe in a group meeting—and allow two-way communication.

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8. Is it possible that I do not have all the information to understand this situation?

Assumptions and Incomplete information damage workplace communication every day. You may think that someone is ignoring your email, when you are using an incorrect address. A delay may suggest to you that your boss has rejected your proposal, when she is really taking time to gain approval for it. Do not send email inspired by assumptions, or you risk creating a problem unnecessarily.

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9. Could this topic be inappropriate for a workplace communication? 

In most workplaces, religion, race, politics, sex, sexual orientation, and physical appearance are off-limits as topics in written messages. Words, cartoons, and other images on these topics will be hurtful to some people, which is the reason workplaces prohibit them. It is not acceptable to send a message on these topics to even one person because of the necessity of keeping the workplace safe and welcoming for everyone.

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10. Could anything about this communication make my company look bad? 

Your unstated purpose in every communication is to present your organization as positively as possible. Imagine your email featured on a six o’clock evening news program. Would it make your company look like a good corporate citizen and employer? Or could it lead to scandal and embarrassment? If anything about the message might present the organization in a negative light, talk to your human resources and legal departments before moving forward.

© Syntax Training. All rights reserved.
 

8 Overused Cliches Employers Are Sick Of Seeing in Resumes

Written by

Looking for a new job isn’t easy, and it can be hard to want to put your best into every iteration of your resume and cover letter. But here’s the thing: even though the economy’s been improving, times are still tough. Plenty of people are looking, and that means for every job opening you see, there’s some HR person out there who is being swamped with a deluge of resumes.

If you want to be sure your resume will actually make them hit the pause button (figuratively) and not the delete button (literally), you’ve got to avoid these cliche words and phrases that sound impressive but don’t actually convey much meaning.

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“I’m a creative thinker”

Unless it’s literally part of your job title (e.g., Creative Director), “creative” is an adjective that’s become so overused it’s utterly meaningless to many recruiters. Think of what the inverse of this statement would be: “I only think inside the box.” “I can’t come up with anything new.” “I have no ideas of my own to contribute.” Literally no one is going to say that, so it means that stating the obvious is well, pretty obvious.

Instead of saying you’re creative, demonstrate that you’re creative with a well-written cover letter. Give a specific example of a problem you’ve overcome, a solution you devised, or how you’ve managed to expand your current role.

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“I’m results-oriented.”

Again, who exactly doesn’t want to get results for their employer? (A person they don’t want to hire, that’s who!) They will assume you’re results oriented, so show them the actual results.

Numbers can help here: Quantify how many sales you made in the last quarter, the number of people you’ve supervised as part of your team, or the amount of traffic your ad campaign drove to your client.

guru“I’m a guru/ninja/expert/etc.”

No, no, no. Unless “Guru” or “Ninja” is your actual job title, skip the enthusiastic euphemisms. Yeah, if one of your references describes you that way, it’s great — but if you’re talking about yourself like this, it’s a bit empty.

If you really are extra-super-good at what you do, show it by listing your accomplishments: Grants you won, conferences you’ve spoken at, programming languages or software you’ve mastered, and so on. If you’re kicking butt, your accomplishments will convey that for you.

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“I have excellent oral and written communication skills.”

Another case of something you should show, not tell. Though you’ll frequently see this on job descriptions, if it shows up in your cover letter or resume it feels like filler — because it is. If you really do have excellent communication skills, you’ll have a cover letter that’s clearly written, appropriately tailored to the position, and inviting to the reader. Same goes for your resume.

Drop this line, and spend the extra time proofreading to make sure that you don’t have any spelling errors or grammar gaffes. (If you’ve read your own resume so many times that you won’t even notice a mistake, ask a friend to proof it for you.)

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“My references are available upon request.”

Well, yeah, they should be! Even if a potential employer hasn’t asked for your references yet (and many don’t until you’re doing a formal application), it’s more than acceptable to let them assume that of course you have references.

If they have asked for you references, name them and give their contact info in the appropriate part of the form, in a separate document, or below your cover letter, if you’re sending that in the body of an email. (In those instances, say something like, “Attached please find my references” or “Please find my references listed below.”) If they didn’t ask? Just don’t mention it for now. Use the extra space to say something useful about yourself!

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“I’m detail-oriented.”

No one’s going to say “I’m a total space cadet” or “I don’t sweat the small stuff.” But saying you’re detail-oriented has become such a cliche as to be totally meaningless (not least because so many recruiters see resumes that are riddled with spelling errors and cover letters personalized for the wrong company by applicants who claim to be “detail-oriented”). Again, show this by making sure that your cover letter and resume are free of basic grammar and spelling slip-ups.

You can also demonstrate your attention to detail by being specific in your discussion of what you do: Managed a staff of three interns; Served as liaison between lab group and department head; Spearheaded development of pay-per-click marketing campaigns for X, Y, and Z clients.

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“Duties:”

Don’t just list! Your resume needs to tell a story about you, not just rehash the job posting for your previous gig. Instead of making a simple list that begins with “duties” or “responsibilities include” (come on, you know that sounds like a total snoozefest), use active verbs to help convey the specific tasks you’ve accomplished on the job. Collaborated with internal team and external vendors to source products, implemented a new system for tracking leads, revamped corporate website to reflect new brand strategy.

Even if what you do isn’t terribly thrilling, using specific, active verbs can your resume stand out. (E.g., “Client communication” versus “Communicated with clients to ensure that targets were met and issues were promptly resolved.”)

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“I’m passionate about what I do.”

Are you? Though today many employers want an intense level of commitment (which is a whole other deal), there are limits to how “passionate” one can be about, say, a call center job. Likewise, if you’re just starting out and you’re applying for jobs that are in a wide range of fields, you probably don’t have a “passion” for each and every one of them. If you actually are into what you do, it should be conveyed not only by your cover letter and resume, but also by your web presence (and yes, you should assume that before you get an interview request, you’re going to be Googled).

Your LinkedIn profile should obviously show that you’re excited about what you do, but ideally any other public profile (e.g., Twitter, which relatively few people have set to private) should reflect your interest and enthusiasm, at least a little. If it doesn’t, just leave “passionate” out of it. Otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for an interview fail: “So, what makes you passionate about being an administrative assistant?” “Uhhhhhhhhh.” Don’t lay out anything in your cover letter or resume that you aren’t ready to answer for when you finally get that call.

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Image source: pixabay.com

Seven Tips for Communicating Data

Written by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Syntax Training

After you have worked hard to collect meaningful data, the big challenges are how and how much to communicate. Consider these tips when you work on your next report or presentation that includes data. 

  1. Focus first on your message, not on the numbers.
    When planning your communication, focus first on the big idea or points you want to make. Then incorporate the data that will help your audience understand and appreciate your points. Be sure your big idea gets center stage, not the numbers.
  2. Explain the data.
    Numbers mean nothing on their own. They need interpretation. Avoid asking readers or your audience to “review the attached spreadsheets.” Why should they review them? Which numbers should they pay attention to and why? What do the numbers indicate?
  3. Put data in context.
    Make it clear whether numbers are positive, negative, or neutral. If you tell a sales rep that she visited an average of six prospects per day, compare that number to the goal number of prospects. If a client walks 5500 steps in a day, state whether 5500 is the magic healthy number or only halfway there. If expenses are 18 percent over income, say why the reader should care. Explain that the account balance will be €0 by 2018 if nothing changes.
  4. Paint a picture with your numbers so people can see them.
    Even simple expressions like “a tenfold increase” or “a 30 percent drop” can seem vague unless your audience can see them. If numbers have decreased dramatically over a decade, do not use words and numbers alone. In a bold-colored graph, show the deep drop year by year, month by month over 10 years.

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If your numbers are so large as to be abstract, paint them in recognizable mental pictures such as an area as large as Italy or a distance of 100 Greyhound buses. (Think of your audience when you choose the image.) How hot is 158 degrees Fahrenheit? Hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. 

Or show the numbers reduced to their essence. Jack Hagley’s graphic “The World as 100 People” (www.jackhagley.com/The-World-as-100-People) presents the world as though it were only 100 people. For instance, 83 of the world’s 100 people are able to read and write; 17 are not.

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  1. Highlight important numbers.
    A wall of numbers is as intimidating as a wall of text. Pull out essential numbers and focus on them. If you are presenting financial data, show just a small portion of it at a time on a slide or a page–just the portion you are discussing now. If you refer to and show just a small part, your audience will not say, “Where are you?” and “What are you talking about?” And always render numbers in a large enough font that you do not have to apologize for it.

Make it easy for your readers to find important numbers. If a client has asked for your fee, for example, don’t bury the number in a paragraph. Instead, render the number alone on a line or as part of a short heading, like this:

Your investment: US$19,000

 

  1. Prominently display the legends for tables and charts of numbers.
    Ensure that your audience will know instantly that 3000 indicates 3,000,000 and that your balance is positive rather than negative. Use abbreviations such as K and M only if you are certain your readers understand them. (To some people, M means thousand; to others, it means million.)
  2. Use only the essential, compelling numbers in the body of your document.
    If numbers weigh down your document, your readers may forget your main point. So move most of the supporting tables, lists, charts, and graphs to the appendices. In a presentation, hold back some slides of data, and show them only upon request. Remember: The numbers are not the message; they serve the message.

If you think of your communication as music, your most important message comes through the soloist. The numbers are the accompanists. They play an essential role, but they should never drown out the soloist. If they do, your communication will not reach and change your audience.

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50 Best Blogs for the Public Relations Major

News

Follow news in the world of PR with these blogs.

  1. PR Week: Check out PR Week for PR and communications news, as well as opinion, research, jobs, and events. (Recommended Post: Investment in Social Media Set to Increase Over Next Year)
  2. Everything PR: Stay on top of public relations news with Everything PR, a public relations news portal blog. (Recommended Post: 100 Media Monitoring Tools for PR)
  3. PR News: PR News will help you become a smart communicator with media relations, PR jobs, industry events, news, and much more. (Recommended Post: Do Something Different: Engage the Media Using Twitter)
  4. PRBlogNews: Find subjective public relations news and commentary on PRBlogNews.com. (Recommended Post: Useless Knowledge)
  5. O’Dwyers: On this New York-based blog, you’ll find insider news in public relations and marketing communications. (Recommended Post: Cooking PR Chile)
  6. PRSA Newsroom: Follow this blog from the Public Relations Society of America for awards, advocacy news, events, and more. (Recommended Post: PRSA Speaks Out on “Pay for Play”)

Public Relations

Follow these blogs to get a general look at public relations.

  1. Online Public Relations Thoughts: Read this blog to find daily thoughts on PR and trends in communication online. James Horton, the blog’s author, received three degrees, from UCLA, University of Missouri, and a university in Evanston, Illinois. (Recommended Post: Anger and Ignorance)
  2. PR in Your Pajamas: Find practical publicity ideas for entrepreneurs on PR in Your Pajamas. (Recommended Post: 15 Types of Stories That Get You Free Publicity)
  3. Tech PR Nibbles: Tech PR Nibbles features small insights and ideas for conversations, influences, and even bigger ideas. (Recommended Post: The Digital Miscommunicator)
  4. Skogrand PR Solutions Blog: Find solutions, tips, and insights on public relations, social media, and more on the Skogrand PR Solutions blog. (Recommended Post: An easy way to keep clients: surveys)
  5. Beyond the Hype: Lois Paul’s blog takes high tech PR beyond the hype and into reality. Paul writes from Boston, MA. (Recommended Post: Rebuilding Your Reputation by Digging a Deeper Hole)
  6. PR Couture: Read PR Couture for reflections and news in fashion PR. (Recommended Post: Fashion PR With an Editor’s Touch)
  7. The Flack: Follow Peter Himler’s blog to see the role public relations plays in politics, finance, technology, and more. (Recommended Post: Long Live PR (and the Press Release Too))
  8. Public Relations Blogger: On this blog, you’ll find resources for PR, social media, media relations, and more. The blog is authored by Ashley Wirthlin, a marketing associate and graduate of the University of Portland in Oregon. (Recommended Post: 4 Reasons Public Relations (Not Advertising) Builds a Brand)
  9. Drew B’s Take on Tech PR: See what Drew has to say about his work as a managing director at a tech PR agency. (Recommended Post: How Digital PR is Changing)
  10. Solor PR Pro: This blog is great for PR students who want to learn how to become a successful freelance PR consultant. (Recommended Post: Why You Need an Online Home Base — and How to Get One)
  11. Prowl Public Relations: Read Temple University’s student-run PR firm blog for PR strategies and knowledge beyond the classroom. (Recommended Post: Fighting the Dark Side of Social Media)
  12. PR Breakfast Club: Start your day off right with this PR blog for fresh PR news, education, and insight. (Recommended Post: Defending the PR Profession)
  13. Think: Temple University’s American Marketing Association shares this blog to get you thinking about PR. (Recommended Post: PR/Marketing/Events Internship)

Media & Communications

Check out these blogs for a guide to marketing, media, communications, and more.

  1. PR Meets Marketing: Find out about the application of PR and marketing on PR Meets Marketing. (Recommended Post: Beware of “Speeds and Feeds” PR)
  2. PR for Thought Leaders: This blog shares insight for B2B marketing and public relations. (Recommended Post: The Huge Mistake We All Make)
  3. COMMS corner: COMMS corner is the home of people-shaped communities. (Recommended Post: The Don Draper Guide to Social Media Marketing)
  4. Jeff Esposito: Jeff Esposito explores conversational media on this blog, and shares how you can win the race in communications and community building. (Recommended Post: Measuring Social Media and the Value of Information)
  5. Media Bullseye: On the Media Bullseye blog, you’ll find thoughts for communicating more with less. (Recommended Post: Ragu, Dads, and Lessons Learned for Communicators and Bloggers)
  6. Holtz Communication + Technology: Check out this blog to learn about communicating at the intersection of business and technology. (Recommended Post: It’s Not About You)
  7. Brian Solis: Follow Brian Solis’ blog to see the convergence of media and influence. (Recommended Post: The Rise of Social Commerce)
  8. Journalistics: In this blog, you’ll learn about topics at the intersection of public relations and journalism. (Recommended Post: A Look at How People Share Content on the Web)
  9. Media Relations Blog: Media Relations is dedicated to the world of media, public relations, and marketing. (Recommended Post: Beginner’s Guide to SEO for Optimized PR)
  10. Strategic Public Relations: Find strategy for integrated marketing communications on this blog. (Recommended Post: What Would Jesus Twitter?)

Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest things happening in PR these days, and these blogs offer great guidance for staying in touch via social media.

  1. PR 2.0: Deirdre Breakenridge offers strategies for new media, tools, and audiences on PR 2.0. (Recommended Post: PR 2.0 Checklist)
  2. Liberate Media: This online PR and social media agency has insight for online and offline expertise in PR. (Recommended Post: Crowdsourcing Compendium)
  3. Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog: Karen’s blog features reputation management, social media, and crisis communication, (Recommended Post: PR & Reputation Insurance for Clients)
  4. Peter Shankman: Peter Shankman’s blog is all about advice for social media and business from a guy who’s been there. (Recommended Post: Be Careful What You Post)
  5. 360 Digital Influence: On this blog, you’ll find fresh influences in social media and word of mouth marketing. (Recommended Post: How Hospitals are Quietly Leading the Way with Social Media)
  6. PR-Squared: On PR-Squared, read about the next big things that are already here with conversations in social media and marketing. (Recommended Post: Social Media Abhors a Vacuum)
  7. Social Realist: Check out Social Realist for social media without stupidity. (Recommended Post: A Few Words for Social Media Cyberbullies)

PR Professionals

On these blogs, you can read about PR from professionals who do it every day.

  1. Cathy Hrudicka & Associates: Cathy Hrudicka offers her advice and guidance as a PR, social media, and marketing mentor on this blog. (Recommended Post: An Unrelenting Passion to Make the World Better)
  2. WiredPRWorks: Barbara Rozgonyi offers inspiration in direct, digital, and dynamic marketing and PR on her blog. (Recommended Post: Most Powerful Twitter Women at the Moment)
  3. Voce Communications: Voce shares great ideas for building brand awareness and more on this blog. (Recommended Post: Understanding the Big and Small of Social Media Measurement)
  4. 360 Days in Our Circle: Follow this PR group to see what it’s really like to work in the world of public relations. (Recommended Post: How to Create a Viral Video)
  5. BiteMarks: BiteMarks takes a fearless look at global communications. (Recommended Post: Real-time Marketing)
  6. Communiqué PR: Communiqué PR offers insight into the life of a strategic public relations firm on this blog. (Recommended Post: Coca-Cola Fan Page Takes Facebook by Storm)
  7. A PR Guy’s Musings: Stuart Bruce shares his musings on public relations, corporate communications, and social media. (Recommended Post: An Inconvenient PR Truth)
  8. POP! PR Jots: This blog offers regular commentary on PR, publicity, and related topics in starting a public relations firm. (Recommended Post: I Don’t Do SXSWi)
  9. PerkettPRsuasion: Get a look into integrated PR, social marketing, and digital content on PerkettPR’s blog. (Recommended Post: The Art of Listening in Client Service)
  10. Next Communications: Riche Escovedo writes about conversations and communities in school communications and beyond on this blog. (Recommended Post: PR People Can Measure Social Media. We Just Need to Learn.)
  11. Dave Fleet: Follow Dave Fleet’s blog for a look at communications, social media, and PR. (Recommended Post: 8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert”)
  12. StevenSilvers: Read Steven Silvers’ field notes on PR and strategic influence on this blog. (Recommended Post: Five Things All PR Students Should Know About Their Choice of Career)
  13. prTini: Heather Whaling blogs about collaboration, integration, and social good on prTini. (Recommended Post: Say Hello: Beyond Social Media Cliques)
  14. Bloomacious: Carrie Leber’s blog features PR, event planning, and publicity, with the occasional style and craft feature. (Recommended Post: Desperate Housewives Set Style)

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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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Avoid Gender-Based Language Traps

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Written by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Syntax Training
Discussions of gender-based language can become heated and frustrating. Some people want to preserve language they consider traditional and appropriate. Others want to adjust language to fit our current world of work. I fall into that second category, preferring inclusive language and words that do not focus unnecessarily on a person’s gender. I recommend avoiding the language traps below. 



1. Avoid “man” words unless you are specifically referring to an adult male. Avoid expressions such as manpower, man hours, and chairman, which focus on men. Instead, use words that include both genders. For example, for manpower, use crew, staff, labor, or personnel. For man hours, use time or work hours. For chairman, choose a word that works for your group, such as chair, chairperson, leader, or convener. Do not be concerned about a word such as manager, which derives from the Latin word for “hand,”  or mandate, whose root means “entrust.”  


 2. Avoid words that communicate a “women-only” category. Use housekeeper rather than chambermaid, and ballet dancer rather than ballerina. Choose server rather than waitress, tailor rather than seamstress, and host or attendant rather than hostess. Baby boomers recall the challenge of remembering to use flight attendant in place of stewardess many years ago, but flight attendant comes to mind instantly now. Actor is appropriate for both genders despite the Academy Award categories of Best Actor and Best Actress. I bet we will soon see Best Male Actor and Best Female Actor Oscar winners.

3. Avoid “Dear Sir” or “Dear Sirs” as a greeting. It excludes the possibility of a woman as your reader. Instead, whenever possible, learn the reader’s name and use it. If you cannot discover your reader’s name, use a generic term such as “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Credit Representative,” or use “Dear Sir or Madam.” 


4. Think twice before referring to women as girls or ladiesGirls may suggest that women are not grown up or are immature, and ladies hints at delicacy that may not be appropriate in the workplace. I understand that this issue is controversial, and I encourage you to use terms that fit your industry and company. If you use girls, do you call men boys? If ladies is common usage at your company, do you also use gentlemen? For more on this topic, read my blog post “Women, Ladies, and Girls at Work.”  


5. Avoid using the pronouns he and his when you mean anyonenot just a man. For instance, do not write, “A manager should give feedback to his employees.” “His or her” is cumbersome, but the plural form often works well: “Managers should give feedback to their employees.” Read more about this topic in the blog post “His, Hers, Theirs, Yours–Gender-Neutral Language.”


6. Avoid using terms that focus on gender unnecessarily. For example, avoid “male nurse” or “lady animal trainer.” Do not single out a woman employee as a grandmother or a man as a stay-at-home dad. Do not refer to a transgendered individual as “formerly a man” or “used to be female.”


If you feel resistant to the suggestions above, talk with your male and female coworkers about them. Decide whether inclusive rather than gender-based language might work well for your company, your industry, your community, and your customers. Don’t be trapped in gender-based language habits. 
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