Ease in Writing
Writing Tips from Full Circle Communications
December 2008
In This Issue
Resume-Writing Tips
Having Trouble?
Attention, Authors!
Past Issues
Scan previous issues on such topics as design tips for writers and speechwriting.
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Ease in Writing?

"Ease in writing" comes from a poem by Alexander Pope, the British poet:

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.

Foot step chartNote he (and I) didn't say "easy writing." But just like dance lessons can help get you around the floor with your partner more gracefully, the goal for this newsletter is to share a tip or two each month so you can improve how your organization communicates in writing.
Resume-Writing Tips 
A well-written resume won't guarantee you are Full Circle bookmarkchosen for a new job, but a poorly written one may eject you from the running.

Many people are looking for a job now; others simply want an updated resume tucked away "just in case." Haven't updated yours in a while? Consider what several experts suggest about resume-writing for mid- to senior-level professionals.

Take it from the top: When Ruth Thaler-Carter helps clients write resumes, she advises against starting with  career objectives. "If they're general enough to cover any and all jobs, they are too vague; if they're detailed enough to respond to only one job title, they are too specific," she said. Both she and Sharon Armstrong, co-author of The Essential HR Handbook, prefer to start with a qualifications or achievements summary so that, as Armstong put it, you can "explain your uniqueness."

Pare it down: "A common problem is the tendency to include every responsibility in every job," said Armstrong. "My advice is to select a few achievements that are directly related to the job you want so the achievements resonate with the potential employer. Quantify wherever you can."

Improve readability: Thaler-Carter listed three often-seen resume weaknesses: "passive voice, too much narrative, and lack of specifics about achievements." Format-wise, she warned against fancy lines, boxes, or images. Use no more than two fonts, and select common ones that any computer will recognize. ("That probably means Times Roman and Helvetica or Arial: not very exciting, but effective.")

Insert the right keywords: Resumes that are screened electronically may need specific keywords to even make it through the first cut. Which ones will work? The ad, job descriptions, and the organization's annual reports will give you clues, according to Katherine Hansen, who has written several articles on the "power of keywords."

Make it personal: Not surprisingly, both Armstrong and Thaler-Carter stress a resume is only one part of an overall strategy. "Search your network to find out who or what they know about the organization," suggested Armstrong.

Resume-writing is not rocket science. But hiring a resume-writer who knows best practice--or at least enlisting a colleague to give your resume a really piercing look--will ensure that your resume helps, not hinders, your job search.

After all that heavy-duty quantifying of accomplishments, give yourself a break at Quinn McDonald's blog QuinnCreative, dedicated to "tips, slips, stumbles, and leaps on the creative journey."
Having Trouble Viewing This Email?
Does this newsletter look weird? Zarrin Caldwell, of Global Dreams Consulting, told me when she opened last month's newsletter, her version had odd spacing and no graphics.

What I then learned applies not only to this newsletter, but also perhaps to an e-newsletter or other communication that organization sends out.

Many recipients' email programs (such as Outlook Express, Gmail, Yahoo, and AOL) dis-able images as the default. Work-arounds include asking recipients (i.e., you) to include the sender (i.e., me) in their address books or asking recipients to enable images. On the sender's side, I should offer a text-only version (which I've always done) and a webpage link (which I did for the first time, with link at top of page).

Some recipients' email programs (such as Hotmail and MSN) require authentication by the sender. In my case, I had to change my settings to do this--a simple step but one I had overlooked in the past.

Some recipients' email programs (such as Eudora and Outlook '97) receive garbled versions of e-mail newsletters. In doing some investigating, I learned that they use a different convention than the RFC standards used elsewhere. The text- and web-based versions will have to suffice for now.

The lesson is to test an email in as many programs as possible. But with so many around, you can still trip up.
Attention, Authors!
Have you written a book or article? Do you have a communications-related blog or newsletter? I would love to share the information with others. Let me know what you have created. I'll write about it (and link to it) in another issue of this newsletter.