Writing Matters

Anita,

I have been aplying to to alot of admin assistant jobs, and I can’t even get an interview. While I don’t have any experience, per say, I have great orgazational skills and am great at meeting dead lines why won’t someone give me a chance???  plz help me.

Red pen correcting proofread english text

Dear “Miss Spell,”

Even if you are not applying for a position as a journalist, your writing skills will be evaluated by those reading your résumé, cover letter, and correspondence. Despite the fact that many intelligent people were terrible spellers – George Washington and F. Scott Fitzgerald, to name a couple – spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and grammatical gaffes can make you appear, well, slightly stoopid. Take a look at these Cover Letters from Hell or résumé bloopers from Monster. (My favorite is “I am seeking a salary commiserate with my training and experience.” My sympathies for bungling your job chances because of that typo.)

Common Misspellings, Mistakes, and Muddles to Avoid

  • Your meeting is tomorrow, not tommorrow or tommorow
  • Accommodate has two Cs and two Ms.
  • Yours truly, not yours truley.
  • I’m sending my résumé under separate cover, not seperate. Remember, there’s a rat in separate.
  • There is definately no A, however, in definitely.
  • Did you receive my résumé? (The exception, “I before E except after C,” applies here.)
  • I believe I’m the best person for the job. (No exception here, the I goes before the E.)
  • I have the experience (not experiance) required.
  • Don’t be greatful for the opportunity to interview; be grateful.
  • You’re not in costumer service (unless you really do work in theater); you serve customers.
  • You have a Class A Commercial license, not a licence with double Cs.
  • It will be noticeable if you leave the E out of noticable.
  • Contact your Personnel Supervisor, not a Personal Supervisor.
  • Et cetera is abbreviated etc., not ect.
  • It’s a mistake to use the contraction for “it is” in its place. (Most possessives have an apostrophe – like Joe’s job – but “its” does not.)
  • Last, but not least, let’s address the homonyms there, their, and they’re.

Their = possessive pronoun
There = location/place
They’re = contraction of they + are

Used properly in one sentence: “They’re going over there in their car.”

Turn on Spelling & Grammar check automatically in your Word documents. Of course, technology can’t be relied upon to pick up every nuance. “I am fully aware of the king of attention to detail this position requires” [emphasis added] did not trigger any alerts, but wouldn’t escape a sharp recruiter’s notice.

Résumés are written in a kind of shorthand that breaks the conventional rules of English grammar. Incomplete sentences, often bulleted, are more conducive to quick scans by busy hiring managers who don’t have time to read a novel to discover if you are qualified for their open position. Check out Careerealism’s Special Grammar Rules for Résumés.

After creating any sort of business correspondence, check, double-check, and triple-check before hitting the “send” button. Better yet, find a second set of eyes – a friend or a colleague – to proof your work.

Readers: Have you ever noticed – after the fact – a mistake on your cover letter or résumé? Share your blunder below.
Recruiters: Do you have any humdingers from your Blooper Hall of Fame?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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RELATED POSTS:
Better Résumé Words, or How to Improve Your Résumé by a Thousandfold
Reasons for No Résumé Responses
TextSpeak Tip-Off

Facebook: Friend or Foe?

Hi. Anita:

I have just started looking for a new job, and recently I have been hearing about employers searching Facebook profiles before even interviewing a candidate. How can my profiles on social media sites impact my chance of finding employment? Thank you!

Dear, Fellow Facebooker:MW_Laptop

Social media and networks have become an extension of our lives. We can catch up with old friends, learn about the latest news,  and even get leads to open positions. But with all the positives that can be enjoyed, take your social experience with a grain of salt. Yes, employers are most definitely looking at the Facebook profiles of their candidates. After reading a post at one of my favorite blogs, TradePost, I was alarmed at how quickly Facebook screening is becoming a big issue in the employment world. For an idea of what I am talking about, read “Asking for Facebook Passwords: Good Screening or Bad Idea?

Here are some of the dos and don’ts to adhere to if you hope make a great first impression.

  1. Make your profile private. Put the security gates up before you start your job search. You can even hide your profile temporarily or make your name not appear in search results.
  2. Keep your pictures G-rated. This includes your profile picture, pictures you have uploaded, and ones that your friends have tagged you in. Even if your page is blocked to the public, there may be a chance that the hiring manager is a connection with a mutual friend and can see your pictures. As a rule of thumb, steer clear of pictures of drinking activities, illegal drug use, sexually explicit images, and anything that you wouldn’t share with your grandparents.
  3. Restrict wall posting privileges. We all have some friends who haven’t quite figured out what is appropriate (and what’s not) to post to Facebook. Be cautious on how much slack you give to these troublemakers and limit their ability to comment/post on your wall.Facebook_Glasses
  4. Untag yourself from professionally unflattering photos. Yes, we all have some great pictures that bring us back to our college days. Great for reminiscing, bad for business. Again, a G-rating is preferred.
  5. Avoid controversial topic discussion. When it comes to politics, religion, and other social issues, it is best to remain neutral while hunting for a job. You are entitled to your own beliefs, but it is best to keep them under the radar on your Facebook profile.
  6. Accept friend requests and invites of people you know. It isn’t uncommon for people to create fictional profiles to gather privileged information. If you have anything that you wish to hide (hopefully you have gotten an idea of what I am talking about by now), do not give strangers access to your profile.
  7. Whatever you do, do not provide employers with your log-in credentials. It may hurt your chances of getting the job offer, but this a serious breach of privacy – and several states have even made it illegal for employers to ask. I most certainly would not want to work with a company that was comfortable crossing those boundaries.

I hope this will help all of my readers become savvier when it comes to their Facebook profiles. Managers and Supervisors, a must-read for you as well is another post of mine called “Facebook – A Hiring Manager’s Best Friend.”

Readers, what do you think is the most damaging discovery an employer could make through Facebook? What is your #1 Facebook profile no-no?

And if you still don’t believe me, check out this news clip about Facebook privacy and employment:

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Warm Wishes,

Anita

TextSpeak Tip-Off

Hi Anita!!!!

I wanna ask u for advice cuz i’m not getting any job intvws after 4 mo. of sending my resume to lots of biz and I don’t know Y. Lemme know what 2 do. Ur the best!!!

Dear, Texter Extraordinaire,

texting

Your cover letter could be the difference between getting a phone call for the interview and your résumé going in the “no” pile. While abbreviated answers work well on your cell phone, as a job seeker, you’ll want to be sure to use proper sentences in business correspondence. Below are a few important items to include in your cover letter, whether you attach it as a Word document or include it in the body of an email.

  • Include the job title you are applying for and where you saw the position advertised.
  • Outline how your qualifications make you a good fit for the job, briefly but not in shorthand.
  • Reiterate your contact information, even though it appears on your résumé or job application.

Re-read all correspondence before sending. Incorrect spelling, faulty grammar, and improper punctuation may raise a red flag with your potential new boss. Don’t trust your Smartphone’s auto-correct or the telltale red lines under misspelled words in Microsoft Word. Your computer’s grammar check can help with homophones such as “their,” “there,” or “they’re,” but there is no substitute for proofreading your work.

txting_cartoon

I’d like to offer one final admonition about overusing exclamation points. Here’s my rule of thumb: use one exclamation mark per sentence and one exclamatory sentence per paragraph. There are better ways to add excitement to your writing than exclamation point overindulgence. As we told my grandson when he was younger, “Use your words.”

Bottom line – you may not be getting any interviews because you’re not making a great first impression with your communications skills. Clean up your presentation of your résumé and cover letter, and I bet you’ll “clean up” on the number of interviews you get invited to as well.

Best of luck!

Anita

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Lessons on LinkedIn

Hi, Anita:

I have just joined LinkedIn to aid in my job search. As a novice to the entire site, I was hoping you could offer some advice on how to take advantage of the introduction feature that is available. Some of the lingo is foreign to me and any insight would be great. Thanks for your help!

Dear, Learning LinkedIn:

Linked_In_GlobeCongratulations on joining LinkedIn. It is a great tool that will aid in your job search and help you build a strong professional network. For those of you who are now just hearing about LinkedIn, it is a business-focused social networking website that connects users with other professionals, recruiters, and companies of interest.  The site offers many tools with the basic free service that everyone should take advantage of.

LinkedIn works through connections. These are to LinkedIn as friends are to Facebook. When you have identified another user with whom you’d like to “connect,” you can make a Connection request, which the other user can accept or deny. An accepted connection is considered 1st degree.

Outside of the 1st-degree circle of connections, you have

  • 2nd-degree Connections: Think of these as a friend of a friend. They are directly connected to one of your professional connections. Keep this in mind when I discuss LinkedIn Introductions.
  • 3rd-degree Connections: Consider these as your 2nd-degree connection’s additional connections. To make it simple, think of this as your co-worker’s friend from graduate school’s boss.
  • Out of Your Network: These LinkedIn users are not currently connected to your 1st-, 2nd-, or 3rd-degree connections.

What I think is a great tool available on LinkedIn is Introductions. We all know that having a person on the inside of a company we want to work for is a step in the right direction. One of your professional connections may be willing to facilitate an opportunity for you to meet an insider who can help you land your next job opportunity.Linked_In_Road_Sign

Here is an example. You want to work as an Administrative Assistant at an EmployBridge brand and hope that you can find that opportunity by speaking with the head of Human Resources, who you don’t currently know. Your friend Steve, however, is connected with the head of HR at Select. What better way to catch the HR Director’s eye than by having her trusted friend Steve “introduce” you two?

So how do you find these introduction opportunities? I thought you might ask!

  1. Start by going to Company Search and entering the name of the company for which you want to work. If you need to refine your search, you can choose the following parameters that meet your search needs: location, industry, and/or relationship type (2nd or 3rd connections).
  2. Once you have located the company, look to the fair right of the screen and find the “How You’re Connected” section. Click on 2nd-degree connections.
  3. Here, you will see all the people at the company with whom you share common connections. Select the individual to whom you would like to be introduced and hover over to the right of the “Connect” button. A dropdown menu will appear. Click “Get introduced.”
  4. Select from the list one of your closest, most trusted connections and ask for the introduction.
  5. Enter text into the subject line and why you want to get introduced.
  6. Finally click “Send Request” and wait for a response – and hopefully a foot in the door.

I hope this helps you understand just one of the great tools available on LinkedIn. For more information, LinkedIn has put together a short video on how to make the most of the site for your job search:

Readers, what are the tools you use the most on LinkedIn? Have you found it useful in your Job Search?

Best wishes,

Anita

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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