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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.

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.

Writing for a General Audience: The Impenetrable Sciences

With members of the global community shying away from their wallets, scientific facilities around the world—including commercial industries, research institutions, large universities, and governmental agencies—are in dire need of professional writers who are able to translate complex scientific information to a general audience.

Research requires funding. Whether the funding comes from investors or taxpayers, the organization will invariably need to describe complex and inaccessible science material to a general audience. This is where professional writing and science collide.

What am I Reading?

The general audience has a debilitating phobia of science. The incomprehensible mathematics, intimidating concepts, and alienating jargon often result in a barrier that prevents the public from understanding and appreciating the material. A professional writer in the sciences is responsible for bridging this gap between the scientists and the general audience.

How do I Make Scientific Writing Understandable?

A professional writer in the sciences faces the difficult challenge of simplifying complex ideas to make them accessible for the average reader. Unlike the convoluted and detached scientific literature, scientific writing for the layperson must be extremely clear and concise. If sentences and paragraphs are bogged down with unnecessary or unfamiliar phrases and terminology, the reader will feel like a child looking up at the adult table.

The general audience must feel capable of understanding the scientific material before it can begin to comprehend the actual science involved. However, once the reader is comfortable, a professional writer must ensure that the significance of the science is not overlooked. The scientific results or implications must be recognizable and unambiguous.

For instance, if NASA were to request an increase in funding from the federal budget, the taxpayers would surely want a public press release identifying what their money would be spent on. If the funding increases were significant, NASA would have to convince the public the money would not only fund scientific study, but also produce tangible results with significant implications.

How do I Make Scientific Writing Engaging?

The stark contrast in style between scientific and nonscientific writing is often understood more simply as dull versus not dull. A professional writer in the sciences must make the audience want to learn before expecting it to continue to read. In order to clarify unfamiliar scientific concepts, it is often helpful to use an analogy. An analogy allows the reader to picture a concept from a different perspective and shows the reader that his or her confusion is due to ignorance, not stupidity.

With the reader’s attention, a good professional writer will be able to communicate a potential benefit of the scientific research. Whether it is a profit from pharmaceutical shares or a fundamental shift in mankind’s view of the Universe, readers will not be interested in reading foreign concepts if they do not benefit from their investment.

The Workhorses of Scientific Inspiration

There will always be a need for professional writers capable of bridging the gap between the scientific community and the general public. Establishing a strong connection between the audience and the potential results can have profound consequences. After all, the American taxpayers didn’t support a 400% increase in NASA funding because of the science of sending a man to the moon. They supported the increase because of an elegantly written speech that opened their eyes to the potential benefits of rocket science.

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

- John F. Kennedy Jr., 1962

Good Writing is Still Good Writing: How to Write an Effective Newsletter

Newsletters are one of the oldest and most effective media for communicating with customers/members, but the digital revolution is leaving the print newsletter in the dust. These days, many organizations have moved their newsletters online.

This does not mean, however, that the basic principles for effective newsletter writing have changed. Even in this exciting and fast-moving world of technological change, it is crucial that you carefully plan and execute clear, concise messages to your constituents. Here are four key steps to writing a successful newsletter.

Determine the goal:  What do you want this newsletter to do?  If you’re a company, maybe you want to inform your customers of new products or updates on current projects.  If you’re a nonprofit organization, you may want to promote your cause and inform readers of upcoming events.

Decide on the logistics:  Before writing the content of the newsletter, you must figure out the details.  How long will it be?  How often will it be sent out? Weekly, monthly, or quarterly?  What method of delivery will be used?  Will it be sent in the mail or read in an e-mail or company website?

Create the content:  Newsletters contain a variety of information, but all articles and topics must be relevant to the newsletter’s objective.  The content can include everything from interest articles, interviews with clients or employees, promotions for events or products, and updates on past newsletter topics.

Keys to getting the point across:

  • Keep articles short and written in simple language.
  • Give every article a heading and every picture a caption.
  • Make sure all content is useful to the reader in some way.
  • Provide pictures or graphs, not just a lot of writing.

Gain a Following:  Newsletters are supposed to create a stronger community within a business, town, or organization through communication.  To do this, make sure newsletters are published on a consistent timeline so readers know when to expect them.  Also, encourage communication by providing an e-mail address where readers can send questions or concerns, or a comment box in an online newsletter.  You may also want to publish a “Letter to the Editor” or “Q&A” section within the actual newsletter.

The web is awash with how-tos, but here are a couple of sites that will help you construct an effective newsletter that is appropriate to your organization, your goals, and your constituents.

http://www.newsletterwritingtips.com/newsletters/about/

http://www.right-writing.com/write-newsletter.html

http://www.newfangled.com/how_to_write_a_newsletter

Do you know of any online resources for newsletters? Share them below!

Welcome!

Welcome to our blog! We are students currently pursuing the Minor in Professional Writing at The Ohio State University. This means that we study and practice clear, concise writing for diverse audiences in a variety of workplace contexts.

We want this blog to be a resource for all things professional writing: writing/editing tips, links to articles, notifications of professional writing events, etc.

We also want this blog to be a space where professional writers and those interested in professional writing can come together as a community and share ideas and experiences.

So, again, welcome! And thanks for visiting.