Sunday, May 26, 2013

Best Resume Writing Tips

The day of a job hunter is full of writing -- tailoring your resume to match the job you're applying for, emailing your friends and family asking for leads, writing cover letters, social networking, emails, phone messages, and so on.

So much of our success is simply determined by how well we clearly communicate, that we owe it to ourselves and our prospective employers to buff up our abilities, preferably with minimum pain and maximum gain.

Here are six sure-fire ways to liven up your resume and cover letter and keep your human resources staff or hiring manager engaged. Even better, not a single writing suggestion mentions the words
grammar, spelling or punctuation!

Tip 1)
Use resonant flesh-and-blood characters rather than boring old nouns. We understand the need to quantify items on a resume but if we were writing a job description about sales, my characters would be clients and customers with less emphasis projections and results.

Tip 2)
Use action words that propel your readers along. We love to see verbs that power us visually from one place to another, rather than just sit there.

Tip 3)
Perform the 8-word test. Keep your characters and actions within 8 words of each other, so your reader can easily follow who is doing what. The fewer words between the nouns and verbs the better.

Tip 4)
Link complex sentences and phrases with connectors to help your reader navigate through the text. Good connector words, for example, are however, because of this, therefore, thus, and so on.

Tip 5)
Lead your resume readers from old information (first) to new information (second). Establish common ground in your message development, gently nudging your prospective employer from comfortable familiar territory into the strange and new.

Tip 6)
Use the Problem-Solution-Action paradigm. One of the most common resume writing complaints we hear from our clients is they don't know where to begin. If you start with a problem statement, followed by a solution proposal, and wrap it up with an action plan, the resume can write itself!

There you go -- give the tips a try the next time you are editing or writing a resume, and see if you get a call back. For samples of well written samples check out our most popular guide, "The New Federal KSA."


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Interviewing Communication Techniques

All the tools and efforts of the person going out for an interview come down to how effectively they communicate with the interviewer and potential boss, both verbally and non verbally.

With verbal communication, we can make our meaning understood through syntax (word order and phrasing) and semantics (word choice and meaning). Are you being clear with your word choice? Are you speaking at a proper pace and volume? Does your voice sound friendly and calm?

With nonverbal communication, we can make our attitude understood. Are you standing in a self-assured yet non-threatening way? Are you maintaining a comfortable level of eye contact? Are you engaging with your gestures? Do you project warmth and concern?

Verbal Techniques
Not everyone has the voice of a broadcast reporter, but everyone can employ tactics to help hold the attention of an interviewer. Speak with short words: the person or persons conducting the interview may be highly educated, but when it comes to their particular needs, you are the expert and should gently help them understand potentially confusing concepts.

You may encounter someone who is hard of hearing, and this can be difficult to know, especially if your interview is over the telephone. If they tilt their head or frequently ask you to repeat yourself, they may not be hearing you well, and you can try speaking a little louder. If they back away, or move their head back, you may be speaking too loudly. The interviewer may also prefer to converse in quieter tones if he or she is discussing sensitive information or is concerned about privacy when other people are nearby.

Another important aspect is your speech rate. A good speech rate is about 120–150 words a minute; that comes to about two words a second. This may sound fast, but it really isn’t. If you count the to 30 seconds using the one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand method, you will be speaking about four syllables (or two words) a second. Try it, and that will simulate an appropriate rate of speech when explaining important or challenging information to an interviewer or client.

A good general rule is to mimic the interviewer’s volume and speech rate, both of which might help you understand your interviewer’s communicative preferences. It is a matter of being sensitive to an interviewer’s reaction, and gauging your own volume and rate accordingly.

Nonverbal Techniques
It is not so much what you say but how you say it. For effective nonverbal communication, you want to convey that you are self-confident, capable, and in control of the situation. You don’t want to communicate that you are aggressive, superior, or domineering.

You can express yourself best by using effective nonverbal and physical techniques. Present a calm relaxed face, especially if your interviewer seems agitated or confused. Smile warmly and try to put some friendliness in your eyes. Maintain intermittent eye contact, although it is important to understand that the meaning of this varies by culture: some people may hold longer eye contact to demonstrate openness and sincerity, while other cultures don’t hold eye contact at all, and may see an attempt to do so as a threatening gesture.

Adjust your approach based on your observations of your interviewer and your understanding of the questions he or she is asking. Set erect and respect their personal space. Use gentle and open-handed gestures, rather than gestures that may be abrupt or aggressively close handed.

There is also paralanguage, which you can use to engage your interviewer. This means the sounds you make, rather than spoken words, such as uh-huh, ahh, and huh? These sounds encourage your interviewers, and assure them that you’re listening and engaged. This is especially important if your interview is on the telephone, and your interviewer is unable to confirm visually that he or she has your attention. And when answering your questions over the phone don’t forget, the tone of your voice can be very expressive.

The most important aspects of both verbal and nonverbal communication during an interview are to work toward a mutual understanding, make your interviewer feel at ease, and ultimately ensure your interaction has a productive and satisfying end, like a job!