Archive for the ‘Becoming Professional’ category

Building to a Tipping Point

December 15, 2008

Malcolm Gladwell begins his discussion in The Tipping Point with an explanation of how ideas, behaviors, messages and products spread the same way that viruses do. Like epidemics, successfully marketed products are contagious; small changes can have large impacts; and changes happen in a hurry.
When job hunting, you can consider yourself the product being marketed. As with a product, these three things are important. By making yourself “contagious,” you make sure that your abilities and news that your job hunting pass quickly through your network and beyond. Small changes, such as making a new acquaintance or volunteering to work an event, can have a big impact on your success. Remembering to write out a personalized thank you note, and mailing it in may be exactly the touch needed. Finally, when a job becomes available, chances are good things will move quickly and you need to be ready for that, by having a resume prepared for each type of job you are interested in.

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Secret to Success #1

December 11, 2008

I’m going to start a new “column” in the becoming professional category. In it, I’m going to post short tips, different things that can help to land a job or build a network. A lot of these ideas have come from different sources; I’ll credit them when I remember where the idea came from, and include a link. If I don’t credit it, and you know where it came from feel free to inform me and I’ll credit it.

Secret to Success : Tip # 1

Create a student business card.
Imagine these two senarios: First, you’re at the bar, and you’re flirting with a member of the opposite sex. You want to give them your number, so you pull out a business card with your name, number and email address so they can call you – or look you up on facebook later. Don’t you think they’d be impressed? Now, this may not seem as exciting, but picture yourself a volunteer at a conference or event, and you meet someone who works in the field you want to go into. You’ve been talking with him for a bit, and told him you’re a student and you’re interested in his field. He gives you his card – and you pull yours out and give it to him. Believe it or not, the impression you make on him will be the same as the one you made on the member of the opposite sex that you were flirting with at the bar. Both will see you as a young, up-and-coming professional. Both will see you as a ‘catch’ – for a future job opportunity or a job.

The Best part? Student business cards aren’t expensive. VistaPrint.com lets you create your business cards for free in exchange for putting their logo in small print on the back at the bottom of your card. You just pay shipping (about 6 bucks) for 250 cards. You’ll be amazed at how much having them impresses people (I was) and it’s a cheap investment.

Be sure to check back for more Secrets to Success….

“Book Yourself a Job”

November 3, 2008

“Book Yourself a Job” is the new key phrase on bookjobs.com. Today, I attended a lecture by Tina Joran, the VP of the American Association of Publishers (AAP), which runs the site. She shared with us some insights on job hunting in the industry, as well as discussed some of the issues the industry is facing today.

There are several things you should know about the publishing industry if you think you want to work in it. The publishing industry is not an industry you choose to work in to become rich. In comparison, the business side of publishing (marketing, accounting, etc.) is slightly more profitable then editorial jobs. What this means, however, is that the people who are in publishing are in it because they love what they do.

If you are looking for a publishing job or even an internship, there are several sites that list positions. (more…)

How to Write a Cover Letter

October 13, 2008

Cover letters are a must-have in today’s job world. Even if, sadly, most of them do not get read. Without one, you stand out as unprepared. With one, you stand a chance to catch the readers attention, present yourself and your resume in a little more detail and explain (briefly) why they should want you.

Do not put what you do not know, or what you want to know in your cover letter. The company wants to know what you can do for them; not what they can do for you. They are paying you – not the other way around.

Most cover letters are 3 paragraphs long. Any longer, and you will lose interest. Here is a break down of what should be in each paragraph:

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How to Write a Resume

August 8, 2008

The most important thing to remember when writing a resume is that it will probably only be glanced at. Hiring managers will probably be sorting through a pile, and be looking for something to jump out at them. So make sure that your resume will catch someone’s interest in under 30 seconds.

How? By following these steps (These are things I’ve learned – some by trial and error, and some through very good advice).

Best Foot Forward
Put the most interesting things about you, the things that are most relevant to that job, at the top. Most resumes have several sections, including (but not limited to): experience, education, activities, awards and computer skills. If you have really rare computer skills, and those are what the job ad specificially mentions the company is looking for, put that up front. Often, people put things in order according to a sample resume or random format someone told them worked. The truth is, putting your best foot forward (and your relevant information at the top of the sheet) will help catch and keep a hiring managers attention.

No Mistakes
Your resume is your first impression. It is unlikely you’d walk into a job interview with a stain on your shirt; why should you submit a resume with spelling errors or typos? Re-read your resume. Have other people read your resume. Believe it or not, I’m a professional editor, and for about 3 months I didn’t catch a typo on my own resume. I showed it to career couselors, my parents, everyone – it wasn’t until I showed it to a college friend, that she finally noticed a mistake. Have everyone you can look your resume over.

Don’t be Boring
A good friend of mine has on his resume that he knows how to make hummus. Believe it or not, this is what landed him his current job. He was applying for financial jobs – but when he went in for the interview, his interviewer asked about this unique skill. They got into a conversation about it; he got the job. If there is something unique or interesting about you, or something that you feel pasionate about don’t be afraid to mention it. It’ll help you stand out when the interviewer is looking at 5 resumes, all qualified, with the same skills and knowledge. Four resumes may be boring, but yours will show that not only are you qualified, but you’re an interesting person too.

It’s a resume – not a teenage girl’s notebook
Teenage girls in highschool have a tendency to write the name of their crush over and over – in different handwriting, just initials, last name, first name – every combination you can image. Your resume should not look like this. Use one font. Use bold only for important information (on my resume, the company names are bold, as are the two colleges I attended; nothing else is.) Be careful about embellishments.

Postive, Active and Concise
Most people use bullet points on their resume; I recommend this. However, your bullet point should not be more then one line. You should be concise and positive. Don’t put anything on your resume that you hated doing (what if an employer decides you’d be perfect to do that all over again?). Think numbers. (good example: I researched, conducted interviews for, and wrote 3-6 articles a month for 4 magazines). You probably didn’t notice but in that example I also used active voice. Try to avoid being passive. (Bad Example: Articles in several magazines have been written by me; I did this every month). This is probably the most difficult part of resume writing; but if done correctly it can also make all the difference.

Shine baby shine.
Finally, make sure you contact information is on EVERYTHING (Cover letter, resume, writing samples, etc) that you send to a potential employer. You don’t want to WOW them then not get the job because they couldn’t find your phone number!

Other Relevant Links:
How to Write a Cover Letter
Advertising Yourself: Resume & Cover Letter

Text Language

July 9, 2008

There was a very interesting article on Book Square not that long ago arguing that, contrary to the popular belief, text messaging and the abbreviations that come with it are nothing new and are not making the big waves that critics and pessimists would have you believe. It’s a long article, but there are several very interesting points it mentions.

First, it lays out the criticism.

Texters are “vandals who are doing to our language what Genghis Khan did to his neighbours 800 years ago. They are destroying it: pillaging our punctuation; savaging our sentences; raping our vocabulary. And they must be stopped.” and that “it is “bleak, bald, sad shorthand. Drab shrinktalk … Linguistically it’s all pig’s ear … it masks dyslexia, poor spelling and mental laziness. Texting is penmanship for illiterates.”

Then it refutes it, by showing the foundation our abbreviations and shortcuts actually reach back, in some cases, hundreds of years.

It even gives examples of text message poetry, including the winners of T-mobile’s text poetry contest.

One topic the article doesn’t broach, although it does mention it briefly is text etiquette. While abbreviations and txt msg short cuts have been around for a long time and are unlikely to bring an end to English as we know it, young professionals still have to be careful.

To emphasize this point, I’m going to recount a story Lindsey Pollak shared with my college graduating class when she came to our Backpack to Briefcase event last fall.

She says that she had been sending back and forth emails with a male colleague; they were close enough to be friendly, but was very upset when he sent here an email with the abbreviation “lol.” She knew what the abbreviation meant, because she signed her emails to family members that way, and she wasn’t sure how to react to this from a colleague. It was obviously inappropriate.

The problem here is that while Lindsey used “lol” to mean “lots of love,” her colleague was using it to mean “laugh out loud.” There are no real standards when it comes to these types of abbreviations; young professionals in particular need to be careful – you wouldn’t want that great contact you made at a conference last month thinking you were in love with him, when really you were just appreciating his joke.

So, although text abbreviations are not new, nor are they destroying the language, we do still need to be careful how often we abbreviate and in what context.

B2B Publishing

June 26, 2008

As I finish my first month working for a business to business magazine, I have some reflections to share.

First, for anyone who doesn’t know a business to business magazine is a magazine on the industry (in this case the pet industry) for other professionals. Pet Business is a magazine that is written for mom & pop pet stores – small independently owned stores. Our advertisers are manufacturers who sell products to the stores, so that the stores can sell them to the consumer. So the majority of our editorial falls into two categories: how to sell that merchandise to the consumer more effectively, and how to choose manufacturers more effectively.

As my first job in publishing, I expected to suddenly be overwhelmed with how much I didn’t know. That actually hasn’t happened too much. Most of the things I’ve found I know a reasonable amount about, and the things I don’t generally can be excused because they involve knowing the company well and knowing what we, specifically, do – which I will learn as I work here for extended periods of time.

Overall, things have gone fairly well. My first article will be published in the August issue (shipping end of July) and my first feature should go into the Grooming Supplement that is being included with the September issue. I’m looking forward to my first trade shows (Pet Fashion week in NYC end of August and Las Vegas in September).

After the September issue comes out I am going to start working on freelancing again. I have several ideas, and articles I was working on during the school year, and I need to start actively freelancing. So expect posts on that in the near future as I begin writing query emails.