Tips for Using Social Media in Your Job Search

Since I am currently approaching midterm week of the first semester of senior year, plans for after graduation are becoming more and more pressing. These days I am doing anything possible to explore my job options for after graduation and land interviews.

Although social media may seem like just a fun way to pass time and connect with friends, it can truly have some great benefits and can be used to your advantage in your job search. However, you must be careful with what you post on these sites.

Websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, enable you to get your name out there to potential employees and are effective networking tools. Advantages of these social media sites include the following:

Twitter

  • Allows you to follow potential employers, tweet back to them, or mention them in your tweets.
  • Allows you to follow websites that post job opportunities and job search tips

LinkedIn

  • Allows you to connect with past employers and build a profile of your professional experience
  • Building your LinkedIn network is a great way to market yourself to potential employers
  • Allows you to connect with people you may have previously worked with, and find people you may know that can help you in your job search.
  • Includes a job search section to find job listings
  • Allows you to invite new connections

Facebook

  • Allows you to list your current and former employers on your profile, so that potential employers can see your previous work experience
  • Allows you to adjust your privacy settings so you can decide who can see what on your page
  • Allows you to look at the Facebook pages of potential employers or companies

Things to avoid on Social Media

  • Posting or allowing inappropriate pictures to be on your page (For example, pictures of you partying or in your swimsuit on a recent vacation)
  • Writing racist or discriminatory remarks
  • Insulting a former employer
  • Allowing friends to post inappropriate posts on your wall
  • Tweeting or re-tweeting inappropriate tweets
  • Posting or writing anything that you would be embarrassed by or wouldn’t want a potential employer to see (Many people say if you wouldn’t want your grandma to see something, you should not post it on social media at all)

Utilizing social media sites in the correct way is an advantage that we should not take for granted at a time when networking is more crucial to employment than ever.

Writing a Professional E-Mail

With the business world’s growing reliance upon technology and computers, e-mails are quickly replacing formal letters. Hard copy documents are becoming a thing of the past, and more professionals use e-mail as a form of daily communication between coworkers as well as a means of presenting a formal request. Here are some quick tips to keep your e-mails professional and current.

Keep it Professional

Don’t be overly friendly and excited; it can easily come across as unprofessional. Refrain from using exclamation points and words with all capital letters

Make Sure to Proofread

Watch out for formatting errors; careless errors can cause you to lose credibility and potentially cause the person receiving your e-mail to not take your request seriously

Create a Clear, Searchable Subject Line

It’s important to have a subject line or the receiver might delete the e-mail. Include searchable words so that the reader can easily find it again at a later time

Send from a Professional E-mail Address

It is important to make sure every aspect of your e-mail is professional; don’t send an e-mail to a professional from a personal address or an address that looks like this: PrOfWrItROXXX@gmail.com.

Know What You Want to Say

Make sure your e-mail has a strong direction. You don’t want to seem like you’re rambling. Keep your purpose clear and stay on point. An e-mail that is all over the place can distract your reader from the intent of the e-mail.

Give Yourself Enough Time

Allow enough time in advance when sending a request. Be courteous to the receiver and give him or her enough time to both answer and process the request. If you are implementing or changing a policy procedure, it is important to give enough time to the people it affects to adjust to the change.

Avoid Large Sections of Words

Break up the paragraphs into short sections; using bullet points is an effective way to separate large paragraphs.

Avoid Abbreviations and Acronyms

Too many of these can give the impression of being unprofessional.

Keep it Short

Professionals are busy and don’t need or want to know every detail; they just need to know the essential information. Keep it as brief as possible. Although keeping it brief may seem rude, saving the reader from reading unnecessary fluff is a polite gesture. It shows that you understand your reader’s busy schedule and respect his or her time.

  • If you absolutely have to include more information, put only a few paragraphs in the e-mail and include the rest in an attachment

Be Genuine

We all understand common courtesy and maintaining a polite tone is a must when writing a professional e-mail.  Remember to use “please” and “thank you,” but be careful not to use them in the wrong context.

  • According to Ten Tips on How to Write a Professional Email by Richard Nordquist, “Thank you for understanding why afternoon breaks have been eliminated” is prissy and petty. It’s not polite.

Citation:

Nordquist, Richard. “Ten Tips on How to Write a Professional Email.” About.com Grammar & Composition. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <http://grammar.about.com/od/developingessays/a/profemails.htm&gt;.

Social Media: The Ultimate Frenemy

It is unfathomable to me that social media has only been around for about ten years. Our generation (I’m in my early 20s) witnessed the digital revolution in real time. We are the very first users of many social media sites.

I guess it’s safe to say that we are the test generation of use social media usage.  As an avid user of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, I am finding out that there is a very thin line between social media being my best friend, and social media being my worst enemy.

Whether you’re new to the social media scene, or looking to improve your current social media profile, here are a few ways to make sure your frenemy social media doesn’t ever stab you in the back.

How to use social media as your best friend:
1.) It’s not what you know; it’s who you know
Although the population of the world continues to grow, the world is smaller than ever. Staying connected with people you know is made simple through social media sites.  Networking is key for not only job opportunities, but also resources in all different fields.  It’s impossible to be in expert in every field. Let your social media work as a tool to help you use your connections as resources.

2.) Know your audience
No doubt about it, being a young college student is a tough time to be a social media user. We’re holding onto our youth and newfound freedom while at the same time trying to prove to employers and peers we’re ready for the professional world. With so many important people using social media today, it is crucial to understand the image your social media profile portrays. One great tool to manage your image in social media is www.reppler.com. This website not only helps you clean up your online image, but it also helps you better understand your audience by breaking down your connections into subgroups such as family, friends, and co-workers.

3.) Let your personality shine
Know that there is a difference between responsible social media usage and boring social media usage. Be sure that your personality comes across through in your profile. This is a chance for employers, friends, and family to learn more about who you are. Use your creativity and unique quirk to set you apart from the rest.

With these three general guidelines in mind, social media can be used to improve your relationships, career, and overall image. Remember, social media can be a best friend, when used correctly. However, it may be quick to turn on you if you ignore, abuse, or misuse it. Happy socializing!

How to Write a Book Review

Read the latest mind-bending, gut-busting, tear-jerking novel? Have a lot to say and want to get it all down? Writing a book review may sound easy enough – just jotting down a couple lines on how you felt. In actuality, even if reviews are generally shorter than reports, more goes into a good review. Keep the following in mind so you can get your message out clearly to your readers.

1.  Read the book! While this may be obvious to many, this step does get short-changed. In this fast-paced, Internet-obsessed age filled with obligations and lures bidding for our attention, it may be hard to get the time to sit down and read a whole book. Find the time. Space out reading for a bit each day to make it easier.  Make little notes about the things that have caught your eye. These can later help guide the formatting of the review. If parts of the book are skipped, then something important (that changes the whole purpose), could be missed, making the review unreliable.

2.  Start with the basics. What’s the title of the book? Is it the first of the series?  When was it written, or when does it come out? Who is the author? Why did he or she write this? Start off a review with the basics. It is likely that the reader doesn’t know a single thing about this book. Also, some of this information can be crucial for the reader to know, like if the author has a political bias.

3.  Summarize what the book is about. What can the reader expect? What is her or she in for? This part is usually brief, although the length can depend on what kind of book is covered. For example, some more detail may be needed on Dr.Jefferson’s theory on particle acceleration, inside dark matter, at galaxy G-42.

4.  Review the book. After the summary, go on into your review. State what you feel and why. This is will be the core argument. Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Organize it point by point. This makes it easier for the reader to follow. A chucky block of text will turn off readers.
  • Avoid or give advance warning of spoilers. Don’t assume others have read the book. The reader of the review may just want the general word to see if the book’s worth investing in.
  • Avoid using excessive quotations. Try to state something in your own words. Use snips of key wording and phasing.
  • Give examples and explain them. Both the author and the reader will appreciate it. In the author’s case, if the reason is well explained, he or she can take the point with him or her in future writings. At the very least, if someone disagrees, he or she will understand why the review was written that way.
  • Remember to be polite. Someone worked hard on the book.Don’t insult the person if you hated it. If the format allows, give the writer some advice.

5.  Sum it all up. Restate the main points.  Try to balance the pros and cons if possible. Give your general impression of the book.

These are just the basic layouts for a review. I found that the Los Angeles Valley College Library goes even more into the finer details. The type of review written will have an impact on whoever reads it. Keep that in mind when expressing your feelings, and happy writing.

The Perks of Procedure Writing

When I first asked to interview my friend Brian about his job as a procedure writer, I thought I knew what to expect. Boy was I wrong! I expected to learn about the dull world of monotonous manuals, but instead I found that procedure writing is a lot like writing a choose-your-own-adventure book. Procedure writing has a lot of perks, and, fortunately, the jobs are plentiful – an important consideration in today’s job market.

The first thing you need to know about procedure writing is that it yields incredible networking opportunities. As a writer, you will meet regularly with the heads of every department as they discuss a new procedure, and they will know you by name. You will get to sit in on meetings with all the top dogs, offer your opinions, and make connections. This type of direct association can be your ticket to the top of the ladder. In addition, you will meet experts in many fields as they give you the knowledge you need to complete your work. As the saying goes, “it’s not what you know. It’s who you know.”

The second perk of the job is its salary potential. English majors will be glad to hear that not all writing jobs will doom them to a life of Ramen noodles for dinner. A good writing sample and great cover letter can land you a job paying $30,000 – $50,000 per year. That’s not a bad salary, especially for a recent college graduate. The pay can depend on several factors, including how much experience you have, who your employer is, and whether you work on a contracted or salaried basis.

The requirements of a job like this are fairly reasonable. Even though the tasks can be complex and involved, it is common to find entry-level positions. Many state a requirement of three to five years of experience, but don’t let that discourage you; apply anyway. Bring a writing sample and a winning smile with you, and you might get lucky. A bachelor’s degree is likely necessary, and you get bonus points if you have some technical experience, too.

Overall, procedure writing isn’t a bad place to begin a writing career, and it might just get you the right connections for your next, bigger job. It’s a perfect start for recent graduates or career-changers. In addition, it can set you up with great connections and a wealth of writing samples. If you like the nitty-gritty details, then procedure writing might just be the job for you.

Professional Writer Spotlight: Patricia Markham, Marketing and Practice Development Manager, Bricker & Eckler LLP

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach.

Many aspiring authors are under the impression that becoming a professional writer is considered “selling out” or “materialistic,” but this could not be further from the truth. Working as a professional writer can be a way to keep your writing sharp and earn a living. The challenge is keeping the passion alive by finding the extra time to write stories that a writer is truly passionate about.

Patricia Markham is an energetic, detail-oriented, and driven individual. As the marketing and practice development manager at Bricker & Eckler LLP, a full-services law firm, Patti is a true professional writer and a workhorse. Her past jobs at Cochran Public Relations, The Buckeye Ranch, and OhioHealth have given her a wealth of knowledge in a variety of fields.

However, if you were to ask Patti about what inspired her to pursue a career in professional writing, you might be a little surprised. From the time she was in high school, Patti wanted to become a writer, but not a communications or business writer. Her dream was to become a novelist and to write books. She admits, “I am the typical frustrated writer who believes that someday I will actually write a book.”

It is not an unfamiliar story. Many aspiring writers share Patti’s dream of becoming an author. But becoming an author is no easy task; according to an article from the Huffington Post, less than two percent of manuscripts get published. At some point, like many aspiring creative writers, Patti decided it would be better to use her writing talents in the business world – where good writing is always needed. But this has not stopped her from trying to realize her dream.

In fact, she has found ways to keep her creative juices flowing while paying the bills. For instance, she thinks of story ideas while driving home from work in her car. It is Patti’s passion for writing and her dreams which should be inspiring to aspiring authors. She has even finished writing a children’s book that is based off the dreams of her young daughter.

Just as Patti is still in pursuit of her dreams, imagining book ideas on her car ride home, aspiring authors can work as professional writers without giving up on their dreams. So, as an aspiring author, know that it is never too late to pursue your passion and to not be afraid to try new things. Just think of Patti when you question your passion for writing because those who never give up on their dreams are the ones who usually end up succeeding.

Where is “Clear and Concise” in Academic Writing?

What’s important in writing? With the short answer to this question being “everything,” it can become difficult for learning writers to focus. In The Business Writer’s Handbook (2008), Gerald Alred, Charles Brusaw, and Walter Oliu write that it is important to keep writing to the point. “Conciseness, coherence and clarity characterize good writing. Make sure readers can follow your writing, and say only what is necessary to communicate your message” (xvii). Focusing on avoiding confusion and excess information makes sense, especially in professional settings.

However, the message students receive in college classes is usually contradictory to this one. Writing assignments are often analytical and must often be a certain number of pages in order for students to receive full credit. Professors expect details and complex thoughts. I have found myself with a good piece of writing that answers the prompt thoroughly, but is a page short of the length requirement on numerous occasions.  Sometimes I have felt as if I am only adding “fluff.”

Despite my negative feelings, there is something to be said for length requirements on school assignments. They help to ensure that students make an effort to write good papers and help to pull out ideas. I am sure that without these page minimums, more subpar essays would get submitted every day.

On the other hand, students are in school in order to eventually get jobs. In the real world, the only requirement for a document is fulfilling its purpose. Professionals do not care if a memo is three pages long or three lines short of three pages. As long as it includes the correct information, is understandable to the reader and is organized neatly, it is a good document.

Since I began taking classes for the Minor in Professional Writing at The Ohio State University, these aspects of my writing have become the focus. I have learned techniques for writing clearly and formatting effectively instead of having to worry about length requirements.  It has been refreshing to feel like I am learning how to right for my future job. In this way and others, classes that are a part of the Minor in Professional Writing prepare students for real world professional writing.

3 Tips for Communicating with International Audiences

As long as a company has a website, it must be aware that the content has a chance of being viewed by an international audience. Writing to an international audience is very different from writing to a U.S. audience. Inappropriate use of words and images can lead to confusion and insulted readers. Additionally, when communicating with international audiences in person, you want to be careful to conduct yourself appropriately. Here are some tips that will help you avoid alienating an international audience.

1.      Don’t use long and complicated sentences.  Instead, use short and simple sentences. This is especially important when writing to non-native English speakers. You are writing to help them understand, not to make them think you are smart.

2.      Don’t use slang or humor that only people from the U.S. will understand.  Using slang or humor may make the writing look appealing to you, but it confuses an international audience. Even worse, if the message is misinterpreted it can lead to your audience feeling angry or insulted.

3.      Don’t use inappropriate hand gestures.  Hand gestures are not often used in business situations. However, if you have to use them, use them with great caution. Some simple gestures can be insulting in another culture. The following table from Successful Writing at, written by Philip C. Kolin, lists the different meanings of some common gestures.

Gesture Meaning in the United States Meaning in Other Countries
OK sign
Index finger joined to thumb in a circle
All right; agreement Sexual insult in Brazil, Germany, Russia; sign for zero, worthlessness in France
Thumbs-up A wining gesture; good job; approval Offensive gesture in Muslim countries
Waving or holding out open palm Stop Obscene in Greece – equivalent to throwing garbage at someone
Pointing with the index finger This way; pay attention; turn the page Rude, insulting in Japan and Venezuela; in Saudi Arabia used only for animals, not people
Nodding head up and down Agreement, saying yes Greek version of saying “no”; in China means “I understand,” not “I agree”
Motioning with index finger Signal to “come over here” Insulting in China – instead, extend arm and wave to ask “come over”

5 Basic Rules for Professional Writing

Writing takes practice and discipline. The principles of good writing are relatively simple, but enacting those principles requires time, study, and attention to detail. Listed below are a few steps for you to take in order to become the best writer you can possibly be!

  1. Punctuation.  Pay attention to punctuation, especially the correct use of commas and periods. These punctuation marks can control the flow of your thoughts. If the punctuation marks are in the wrong places, it can make your text more confusing even if the words are clear and concise.
  2. Practice.  You cannot do something well unless you do it regularly. This applies to many things beyond writing. Most professional writers recommend setting aside roughly 30 minutes per day to concentrate on perfecting your writing pieces. Practice makes perfect.
  3. Write Like You Speak.  Strive for simplicity and clarity. This means you should aim to write like you speak, even in a professional tone. This will help the reader understand you better.
  4. Spelling Counts.  Everyone makes an occasional typo in the drafting phase; it’s to be expected. However, spelling errors can be some of the most glaring and embarrassing errors you can make. It’s a good idea to have a peer read through your document for mistakes after you’ve proofread. (Hint: Then proofread again!)
  5. Build Your Vocabulary.  The best way to do this is to read more. Not only does reading increase your vocabulary, but it also helps you learn more. The more you know, the more you can apply to your writing samples.

Confessions of a Twitter Addict

I was skeptical to join Twitter. At first, I thought it was unorganized – just a jumbled list of different people’s thoughts. I thought it would be overwhelming to keep up with.

I’ve been tweeting since November 2010. I really only joined because my English professor assigned us homework that required us to condense some of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets into 140 characters or less and post them on Twitter. I ended up really enjoying the assignment, and I decided to keep my Twitter account after the class ended.

When I first joined, one of the first “mentions” I received was from my friend, who told me that Twitter would become “the most addicting thing in my life.”

I have to admit…he was right.

Since then, I’ve found that Twitter has many more practical uses than just social networking. I work for Ohio State Athletics Communications and also in marketing for Ohio State Rec Sports. In both organizations, we use Twitter to post game updates, scores, general news, and events. During spring quarter 2011, Twitter was very useful in informing the public about cancellations of outdoor sporting events because of the rain. Twitter is also very useful in getting feedback from students when they retweet or mention us.

Most recently, I have paired up the use of Foursquare with Twitter. Foursquare is a social networking site that allows you to “check-in” wherever you are and lets your friends know what you’re up to. Ohio State Rec Sports also utilizes Foursquare. We monitor how many people are checking in at the RPAC, ARC, and Jesse Owens Rec Centers.

I also follow many local businesses, PR resources, and media outlets. I found it interesting that many of the PR sources, like @easyColumbus, tweeted internship opportunities. It seemed like there were at least five or more new opportunities posted every day. To me, this seems like a great way to inform people about ways to get internships. I have many friends that have had trouble finding internships. I’d love to tell them about following PR resources on Twitter.

In short, I am very enthusiastic about Twitter. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with it, and I intend to keep tweeting for a long time.