Tag Archives: Twitter

8 reasons why brevity is important in your job search and at work

I began reading what started as a great blog post. The topic interested me, the writing was humorous and demonstrated expertise. I was settling in for a good read, but there was one major problem; this post was too long.*

boared

When the scroll bar was only a third way down the page, I was wondering when this darn thing was going to end. So I scrolled down the rest of the way only to find out that, yes, my suspicion was correct, I was reading a novel on the topic of the résumé.

Sadly, I stopped reading this promising article.

My purpose today is not to write about the ideal length of a blog post. No, I’m writing about the importance of why brevity is important in your job search and at work.

Brevity in your written communications

1. The debate over the one- or two-page résumé has some merit. My answer to this one has always been, it depends. If you can write a one-page résumé that covers all your relevant accomplishments, do it.

Otherwise your two-page résumé has to be compelling enough for the reviewer to read. Often we’re in love with our own words, but this doesn’t mean others will, especially if what you write is superfluous.

2. Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter, had something going when he launched a social media application that allows users to tweet only 140 characters, including spaces. At first I was frustrated with the limitation—and I still think it’s too short—but I’ve since come to see the brilliance of this model.

The twesume was created to make the hiring process quicker. One simply wrote a 140-character tweet with their résumé attached. If the recipient was drawn to the tweet, they would open the applicant’s résumé. Sadly, the twesume didn’t take hold.

3. Thankfully LinkedIn puts limits on characters for its profile sections. For example, you’re only allowed 2,000 characters for the Summary and Employment sections, 120 for your Headline, and other character limitations.

This has caused me to think more carefully about what I write on my profile. These limits have also kept the length of prose under control for those who, like me, tend to be verbose.

4. Don’t you hate long e-mail messages? If you’re nodding in total agreement, you and I are on board with this one. The general rule is that if your e-mail to a supervisor or colleague exceeds two paragraphs, get your butt of your chair and go to his office.

A good rule of thumb is to write your brief message in the Subject Header, e.g., Meet for a marketing meeting at 2pm in the White room on Tuesday, 11/18. The body of the e-mail can contain the topics to be discussed.

Brevity in your verbal communications

5. The interview is not a time when you want to ramble on about irrelevant details. Answer the questions as concisely as possible, while still demonstrating value. If the interviewer needs to know more, he’ll ask for clarification or deliver a follow-up question.

Many people have lost the job opportunity because they talked too much. When I conduct mock interviews, I sometimes feel as though I’ll nod off and lose my concentration.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. People who’ve interviewed others will concur that long answers can be so painful that they’ll end the interview before asking the remaining questions.

Listen2

6. Brevity is also important when you’re networking. People generally like to be listened to, not talked at. Allow your networking partners to explain their situation and needs, and then try to come up with solutions.

Conversely, your networking partners should want to hear about you. On occasion you’ll come across people who don’t get the listening aspect and will make your networking experience painful. Do people the favor of listening to what they have to say, and give your advice with concise answers.

7. At work you must practice brevity whenever possible. It’s said that extraverts tend to talk more than introverts, whereas introverts are better listeners. Try to be an ambiverta mixture of the two dichotomies. Apply the proper amount of listening and talking.

Keep this in mind when you’re speaking with your manager, as she is extremely busy. So state your business as clearly as possible and listen carefully to her suggestions. The same applies to meetings. Don’t dominate them by interrupting and talking on too long.


I’m brought back to the blog post I couldn’t finish which I’m sure is very good, based on the number of comments it received. It’s a shame I’ll never find out, and I wonder if those who provided comments actually read the whole post.

*Many believe the appropriate length is 750 words maximum. I’ve failed this rule by 30 words.

Photo: Flickr, jamelah e.

 

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11 reasons why we are a community on LinkedIn

communityTwitter has been called a “community.” It’s an appropriate designation for this open-ended platform that asks, “What are you doing and thinking?” Twitter is a place where people go to talk, offer advice, ask questions; but mainly talk–and all within 140 characters, including spaces.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, isn’t heralded as a “community” as much as a professional network, where people connect for business and job search possibilities. But a community?

Although LinkedIn doesn’t promote itself as a community of followers who want to know what you’re doing, LinkedIn is a strong community from which my close connections and I derive many benefits. Here are 11 reasons why LinkedIn is a strong community.

  1. We help each other. Whether its posting an article that points out important information on the job search or answering a question from a connection or providing advice on professional branding or generating sales leads; LinkedIn is about making people better.
  2. We celebrate each others’ successes. Nothing satisfies me more than to see someone land a job or announce a speaking engagement or gain some business. A community celebrates the successes of its members.
  3. We don’t disappear. My reliable connections will rarely drop off the face of the earth, not to be heard from for months. If they take a reprieve, I’ll write, “Great to see you again on LinkedIn” upon their return. Occasionally people need a break.
  4. We join and participate in groups.  At the moment, for example, I’m engaged in a group discussion which has been going for approximately two weeks. There are 40 responses multiple “Likes” to the discussion I started. It’s a nice conversation that’s taken a life of its own. Being a member of groups is truly a feeling of community.
  5. We are professionals. “Fun” is a word associated with Twitter. But LinkedIn?  I love LinkedIn for its professional business approach to online networking which is devoid of conversations you’d find on Twitter. To me, LinkedIn’s approach to professional networking is fun.
  6. NofoulWe enjoy LinkedIn’s reputation. In almost every article you read, LinkedIn is lauded for its use by recruiters and hiring managers to find talent, not to mention its use for relationship-building in business. No foul language or inappropriate conversation allowed.
  7. We display professional photos. The majority of the members in my community understand the importance of a professional photo. I will not accept in invite from LinkedIn users who don’t have a photo; it’s pet peeve of mine.
  8. We keep no secrets. Honesty is my policy when it comes to visiting someone’s profile. In my community most people feel the same. For those who don’t, I ask why? I don’t bite.
  9. We blog. Many members in my LinkedIn community blog and eagerly share our posts with each other. We find this a great way to demonstrate our expertise. I enjoy reading the works of my community and commenting on their opinions.
  10. We update on a regular basis, as well as communicate in other ways, such as “Liking” and commenting on updates. People in my community know I’ll thank them for visiting my profile (related to #7) by simply writing, “Thanks for stopping by.”
  11. We reach out to each other. My connections in my community are bona fide ones, because we reach out to each other via phone, if long distance, or in person. Twitterers converse online without the pretense of networking face-to-face.

These are but 11 reasons why LinkedIn is a community. When I think of it as a community, I think of my connections who appear on my homepage on a regular basis, reminding me of the impact they have on my LinkedIn involvement. Thanks I say to those who contribute to my community.

A letter to my daughter’s career advisors

college studentBelow is a letter sent from a concerned parent to a College Career Advisor as his daughter enters her freshman year of college.

Dear College Career Advisors,

I’m writing to you because my daughter has arrived at the University, and I’m hoping she’ll get some guidance from you. She and I agreed that she’d introduce herself to you after she’s settled in. Expect her to be a bit lost in the world of a major university.

As a Workshop Specialist at an urban Career Center, I occasionally see college grads in my workshops. Many of them didn’t take advantage of their college’s career centers and are hearing about the career search for the first time. I don’t want this to be the case with my girl, so I’m reaching out to you now.

My first request is that you impress upon my girl how crucial it is for her to develop her “soft skills.” In a survey by Glassdoor.com, employers feel skills such as, collaboration, verbal and written communications, and analytical thinking, are lacking in college grads.

She’ll need to learn how to write a great résumé of course. On her résumé she’ll need some real-life experience, namely internships. I’m seeing this lack of experience on some of the recent grads’ résumés I critique. If you would emphasize the importance of obtaining internships, it would be much appreciated.

Her interviewing skills will need some polish. I conduct mock interviews for my customers and I’ll tell you, they benefit from them greatly. Would you put her through a mock interview or two? Better yet, have her attend college career fairs and speak with some of the representatives there. There’s nothing like sitting in the hot seat.

Many of my customers balk at the idea of informational meetings, despite my impressing upon them the importance of gathering information; building their network; and, who knows, perhaps striking it lucky as the company is thinking of hiring. I want my daughter to go on as many informational meetings as possible.

She needs to learn about LinkedIn. Even though I teach LinkedIn, she’s never taken an interest in it. Why would I expect her to? Most high school students don’t even know about this platform; they’re wrapped up in Facebook and Twitter. Please emphasize the value of LinkedIn as an online networking application. Show her how she can reach out to the alums from the University.

One last thing and perhaps most important. Please suggest my daughter attend any networking events at the University and other venues. I think I read of a student networking group at the University that meets bi-monthly. This would be a great step in getting her to meet potential long-term contacts. Impress upon her that she should start developing her network before she needs it.

Thank you in advance for your consideration Your attention to my daughter’s success is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

A Concerned Dad

How Twitter Twesumes can help you find a job

twitterIf, like me, your writing is verbose and you struggle expressing yourself in 140 characters; forty-thousand characters would suit you more. (That was 140 characters, by the way.)

But as I gradually accept certain technology, Twitter now seems to be a pretty good idea. It keeps words to a minimum, forcing me to be brief. The idea that shorter is better starts to sink in.

Newsflash: there’s a very real possibility that the job search is heading, in part, in the direction of Twitter. In a world of busy recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals, where shorter is better, Twitter provides a great vehicle for sourcing talent.

But how can jobseekers present their experience, valuable skills, and accomplishments in 140 characters? Obviously they can’t. They can, however, use Twitter as a vehicle to achieve this in the form of a Twesume. The Twesume is not a new concept; I read about it in December, 2011, in a Mashable.com post, How a 140-Character Twitter Resume Could Land Your Next Job.

I have to admit I question the success of the Twesume, but I’m open-minded and willing to consider any advantage jobseekers can use to get themselves in front of employers. The Twesume usually comprises of two important components; a compelling value proposition and a link to either a LinkedIn profile or online résumé.

Here is an example of a value proposition (mine) with a link to a LinkedIn profile (mine).

Delivering trending job-search advice for your job-search success/LinkedIn training for business’ advantage. http://tinyurl.com/7gd4kqu #twesume. (137 characters.)

In order for your Twesume to work, you must be engaged in ongoing discussions on Twitter, follow potential employers, and let people know you’re looking for work.

To make companies aware that you’re looking for work, send your well-crafted Twesume to companies via a tweet to @company, or through a DM. Send your Twesume to companies who announce their positions on Twitter, or who will potentially be hiring in the future.

How real is the need for you to create a Twesume?  A CNN article writes, “Earlier this year, the chief marketing officer of U.S. technology company Enterasys, Vala Afshar, announced that he would only consider Twitter applications for a senior social media strategist position with a six-figure salary.”

As I think about the Twesume, I wonder if it will actually take hold and perhaps replace the résumé in some industries. A busy world of hiring authorities says it will.

An example of my Twesume:

sample twesume

Quantity versus quality on LinkedIn

In an article by NPR, “Don’t Believe Facebook; You Only Have 150 Friends,” it challenges the viability of having more than 150 friends on Facebook. The article cleverly relates a story about Bill Gore, the founder of Gor-Tex, who became so frustrated with being unable to name or recognize all of his employees, that he capped the number of people to 150 at each of his company’s locations.

Although I know little to nothing about Facebook, I see a comparison between this social networking application and the extremely popular professional networking application, LinkedIn. I firmly believe that the more contacts you have on LinkedIn, the more your network resembles your group of Facebook friends; they’re hard to keep track of.

British Anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, who is quoted in the NPR article, as well as in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, for her theory on the number of people you can actually know. Like Bill Gore, she caps it at 150.

“The figure of 150 seems to represent the maximum number of individuals with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with knowing who they are and how they relate to us,” she is quoted in The Tipping Point.

There has been a debate brewing among LinkedIn users over quantity versus quality contacts. Some who argue for quantity ask are you fully utilizing LinkedIn’s effectiveness by accepting only the people with whom you have developed a relationship, people you trust?

Others argue that building trust and long-term relationships is what networking is about; it’s a slow evolving process. Only after you have contacted a person seven times, some believe, will your contacts become true connections. (Seven is also a mystical number.)

For those who strive for quantity, the argument is a valid one. The more people you catch in your net, the better the possibility of starting something new. Who knows if one of the people you meet will turn into someone valuable? Business people bank on making as many connections as possible, as the more often their face appears on your home page, the more you’ll think about the products or services they sell.

Quality contacts are those with whom you have a relationship. In relationship building, LinkedIn can be an excellent tool for reaching out to people (contacts) that you’d otherwise not know about; but as the proponents of knowing the people who are in your network say, you have to follow up and reach out to them in a personal way. Then they become connections.

As a job search trainer, I recommend quality over quantity. Throwing out invitations like chum line may yield you some success reeling in fish; but having a focused networking strategy is far more effective.

If you’re a business person, quantity might be your thing. But as a jobseeker, showing 500+ contacts might show desperation or lack of focus.

You jobseekers should heed Bill Gore’s story and ask yourself, if a successful business owner, who employs thousands of people, understands the importance of a focused group of employees, shouldn’t you take the same approach to your networking strategy? What are your thoughts on this?

Talking about Ageism: Three Pieces of Advice from Matthew Levy

I was searching around LinkedIn for some questions to answer. It’s been awhile and I miss my old routine of answering tons of questions. I came across a great question from Matthew Levy on ageism, but instead of answering his question, I decided to write this blog article in response to a very important topic—ageism and how to break down the barrier of age discrimination.

Let me start by saying that Matthew’s article was very insightful, albeit lengthy even for a verbose writer as myself. He suggests three methods for the 40+ crowd to use in combating possible age discrimination. The first method he talks about is modifying your appearance to make you appear younger. Second, he urges you to dive into social media; and third, he advises a strategic approach to writing a résumé.

Modifying one’s appearance. Matthew writes that one day he advised a gentleman to shave his beard, which according to Matthew, took five years off the man’s appearance.

I also witnessed a man who had shaven his beard and took years off his appearance. For some men it’s hard letting go of a beard he’s had for a good part of his life; but once the job is secured, the beard can return.

Matthew also suggests modifying other aspects of your appearance: eyeglasses; hair color; make-up; clothing, e.g., suits, blouses, skirts, et cetera.

Embracing social media. Using media like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to network puts you in the company of Y-generation jobseekers.

I lead workshops at an urban career center, where I see many mature workers. These folks attend my LinkedIn workshop and are excited at the prospect of getting online, or if already there, enhancing their online footprint.

“If you stay in the dark by resisting change and new technologies, the Millennials (who are interviewing you, recruiting you and referring you) might typecast you as ‘behind the times’ and ‘set in your ways,’” Matthew writes.

How true and scary.

Don’t show too much work history on your résumé. Matthew advises that jobseekers keep their work history within 20 years due to relativity, which is sound advice. But I say keep it within 15 years, as 20 years already dates you at least 43 years-old. The bottom line is why kill your chances of getting to the interview? Once at the interview you can sell yourself, thus negating your age.

Other smart suggestions Matthew offers are to remove graduation dates from your education, applying more up-to-date fonts, eliminating an objective statement and “references available upon request,” and not limiting your résumé to one page. This may seem like simple advice, but appearance in every aspect counts when making a first impression.

Matthew gives older jobseekers some great commonsense advice, but I think encouraging them to join the social media party is the best advice of the three topics.

Incidentally, Matthew asks for other ideas to help older jobseekers in their job search. My piece of advice would be to enter an interview with a positive attitude. Think as though your 20 years younger than you are because what does age matter anyways?