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Do You Have What it Takes to Write from Home?

Write From Home

Write From Home

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post written by Sally Keys, a freelance writer in the fields of business and finance.


In my decade as first a writer and then a content manager, I have seen many people who think they can be writers. They love the idea of calling themselves a writer, bigging themselves up, and working from home. Many are stay-at-home parents, English literature students, and the long-term unemployed looking for a quick buck.

However, there are several aspects which mark out a good writer from a bad one, and it’s not all down to skill. A large part is actually down to attitude and mentality. If you have what it takes to survive as a freelance writer, then you need both of these.

The Writer’s Work Life

Most newbie writers underestimate the amount of work that goes into writing and the diversity of the writing jobs they must complete. They also fail to anticipate the time pressure put on many writers to get work done.

This is not just in terms of deadlines but also the amount of work necessary to make an decent living from writing. In some cases, this can mean pumping out multiple 400-word articles in an hour, including research and editing time.

The biggest challenge of for those who write from home is discipline. This means setting aside time and distractions, being well organized, and keeping to a strict schedule to bring the work in on time and on quality.

On the plus side, if you have that discipline, you will have the flexibility to work half days, to change from day-to-day when you work and how you work. As you write, you will gain more knowledge and more experience in each type of writing, and you will naturally speed up.

This brings in another con to consider: complacency. Shortcuts, cheats, copying, and accidentally writing the same thing again and again are common errors alongside not reading job briefs properly and being bland. These are all things Inklyo will teach you how to avoid.

The Work-From-Home Lifestyle

Most online writers today work from home. This can be in a designated office, a dining room, a bedroom, or, like Roald Dahl, a shed at the bottom of the garden. As noted above, working from home has its own distractions. Bosses will be on chat and email instead of in your face, as will colleagues, but you can tune them out more easily.

However, now you have a TV in the house, as well as a phone, Internet access, a fridge, and maybe a noisy family. Working from home can also be lonely, as it’s difficult to build new professional relationships and you won’t have colleagues to go out with.

Despite these drawbacks, the drawbacks of writing from home are offset by the many benefits: you can work in comfort, wear what you want, take the kids to school, and go out for lunch without a time limit.

Image source: Gabriel Beaudry/Unsplash.com

How to Write a Blog

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How to Write a Job Inquiry Email

The desk of a job seeker drafting a job inquiry email.

The desk of a job seeker drafting a job inquiry email.

What Is a Job Inquiry Email?

After scrolling through seemingly endless lists of jobs on hundreds of job websites, you finally come across a job opening that you know you would  fit perfectly.

So you prepare your resume, tailoring it to the specific position, and craft your cover letter to present your skills and illustrate your experience. At this point, all that’s left to do is to send the email and wait for your interview, right?

These days, most job applications are sent by email or through a job-posting website such as Indeed.com or Monster.com. This means that, in addition to sending your resume and cover letter, you’ve got to write a short job inquiry email introducing yourself and stating that the required documents are attached.

But what do you write in the job inquiry email? Haven’t you already said all you wanted to say in your cover letter?

It may seem like a hassle, but it’s important to put in the effort to make your very first impression the very best it can be. Here’s how.

Writing a Job Inquiry Email

As with most business emails, strive to be clear, polite, and concise in your job inquiry email. Your future employer should be able to understand the purpose of the email in the subject line and in the first sentence. Make it clear who you are and which position you’re applying for.

This is especially useful for employers that are hiring for more than one position, as it helps them to keep all their emails organized. Make it as easy as possible for your potential employer to start you on the right track toward being hired.

When writing the job inquiry email, use formal language and style. Try to match the email, however brief, to the tone of your cover letter, showing consistency in your writing.

It may seem obvious, but it’s also vital to ensure that you attach your resume and cover letter to the email and that you inform the reader the documents are attached. Forgetting to add the attachments or communicate what they are is a costly mistake, as potential employers will likely ignore your job inquiry email altogether.

Also note that you should never just copy and paste your resume or cover letter into the main text of the email. It ruins the formatting and can make your beautifully crafted application documents look sloppy. Save them as PDF files first and then attach them to the email.

After introducing yourself, stating the position you’re applying for, and directing readers to the attached documents, end the email with a polite goodbye and restate your name and contact information.

Here’s an example of a well-crafted job inquiry email. You can use it as a guide when writing your own email to a potential employer.

Hello Mr. Fuller,

My name is Jane Doe, and I am applying for the Marketing Assistant position offered by CompanyXYZ.

I have experience in the field of marketing, having graduated with a degree in digital marketing and worked as social media marketer for the past three years. I know you will see that my qualifications make me an excellent candidate for this position.

I have attached my resume and cover letter, as requested. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe
111 Queen Street
Portville, ON X3X X3X
Canada
(555) 555-5555

Final Steps

Before you get excited and hit “Send,” be sure to reread the email to catch any mistakes you might have missed. Double-check that the correct documents are attached and that you are sending the job inquiry email to the right email address.

Now all that’s left to do is wait for your phone to ring! If you really want to increase your chances in the job hunt, explore Inklyo’s How to Write a Resume course and discover the difference a professional resume can make.

How to Write a Cover Letter

Image source: hellokellybrito/Unsplash.com

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The Small Business Guide: Tips and Tools for Building Your Business

A small business owner.

A small business owner.

This small business guide is the perfect reference for small business owners who must navigate marketing, accounting, sales, and customer service.

Don’t waste time toggling between tabs when everything you need to know is in one convenient location!

Business Writing Resources

Tools by Department

Efficiency Tips and Tricks

Resume Resources

Image source: Unsplash.com/Pexels.com
Effective Business Communication
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Personal Branding: How to Build Your Brand in 4 Simple Steps

Personal Branding

Personal Branding

When you think of personal branding, superstars come to mind—icons such as Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Kim Kardashian, and Ellen DeGeneres.

With such giants in the public sphere, it’s easy to forget that personal branding doesn’t always result in national news coverage, a multi-million-dollar TV show, or a personal clothing line. Sometimes, the result can be getting a new contract for your freelance work, collaborating with an influencer in your field, or standing out to a potential employer.

Perhaps not as sexy, but still important.

The following four steps will help you begin to develop yourself into a brand, with the goal of getting you to the point where potential customers and employers immediately associate your name with your service and/or product.

Step 1: Envision yourself as a brand.

The first step to building a personal brand is to think of yourself as a brand. No, this doesn’t mean you’re some lifeless product; this simply means you must think about how you can market your skills, services, and/or products to others, using your own name.

Ask yourself what your area of expertise is (or what you want your name to be associated with), and consider what you have to offer that others are willing to pay for, either as a customer or as an employer.

Be specific here, and don’t worry about limiting yourself to just one area. Marketing expert Jayson Demers firmly believes in the value of deciding on a specific niche within your field. Although you’ll have a smaller audience, it will be a much more valuable audience: “Specificity is a trade of volume for significance.” In other words, quality is better than quantity.

Step 2: Build an online presence.

As soon as you’ve defined your niche, you need to create an online presence. A good place to start is by googling your name. Do you appear in the search results? Are the results positive? What is the nature of the top results—are they your social media accounts, customer reviews, or your work? Assess your immediate online visibility, and build on it using the steps below.

As you move forward with developing your personal brand, google yourself regularly (or set up a Google Alert) to monitor your presence. It’s also worth noting that, if your name is John Smith, you may want to use a middle initial to make your name stand out.

To boost your visibility, consider buying a domain name; typically, it will look something like www.FirstnameLastname.com. Depending on the site you use for your purchase, the domain may only cost a few dollars each year. Buying a domain that includes your name will greatly increase the control you have over what people see when they google you. If you’re not convinced, check out Harry Guinness’s breakdown of the importance of owning your own domain.

Adding a social media presence will also help build your online presence. You can link to your accounts on your website, and since so many people use social media, it can be an effective alternative method to reaching and communicating with people.

However, remember that this requires you to be professional with your social media accounts. Keep your presence professional and avoid posting inappropriate content.

Another step you can take to boost your online presence is writing articles that are related to your specialty. Publishing these articles online (whether through a blog hosted on your website or a third-party publisher) will increase your internet footprint and position you as an expert in your field. Offering your opinion and expertise for free will signal to others that you are passionate and knowledgeable about your field.

Step 3: Learn, learn, and keep learning.

The third step is to continue developing your skills. Think you know everything there is to know about your profession? You’re (probably) wrong. Industries are constantly changing, and you need to stay as up to date as possible, considering that your presence is competing with the entire online world.

Take courses online or at a local college or university to continue developing your expertise and to learn from other experts. The upside to this is that tuition fees are often tax deductible!

Join associations that represent your profession. Often, associations will offer workshops or seminars, which will give you another expert’s perspective and experience in your industry. With your experience, perhaps you can consider leading a seminar yourself, which will further build your personal brand as a leader in your profession.

Follow bloggers and writers who give their opinions and updates on current trends; engage with them on their websites and social media.

Taking these steps, quite fortunately, gives you a head start on the next step.

Step 4: Make friends and network.

The downside to focusing on building your website and social media accounts is that people need to somehow find or be shown them. Networking brings you into direct contact with other experts and potential employers in a face-to-face setting. Real-world networking makes a great companion to your online presence because if no one in your field recognizes your name, your online content won’t carry as much weight.

Here is where you can benefit from being in contact with professors, classmates, colleagues, and fellow members of your profession’s association. These people might have special insights on current or future trends in your field, and they might be acquainted with potential employers or clients. Either way, by establishing connections and introducing yourself to others, you’re building your reputation by word of mouth.

Conclusion

These four steps are probably enough homework to keep you busy for a while. If you can see yourself as a brand, build an online presence, expand your knowledge, and network, you will have made an excellent start on developing your own personal brand.

Image source: Snufkin/pexels.com

How to Write a Resume

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Becoming an Editor or Proofreader: A Comprehensive Guide

Becoming an Editor

Becoming an Editor or Proofreader

As long as there are people writing, there will be a need for editors and proofreaders. However, becoming an editor or proofreader requires patience, skill, and a thorough understanding of what these professions involve.

The following list of resources is designed to answer all your questions about training to become an editor or proofreader and to outline what you can expect as you embark upon an editing or proofreading career. Need more convincing? Check out some of our resources and see what we’re talking about!

Training to Become an Editor or Proofreader

Careers in Editing

Tips and Tricks

EditingCamp

Careers in Proofreading

FAQ

Image source: Lisa Davies/Stocksnap.io
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10 Ways to Use Social Media to Build Your Professional Network

A professional network.

Professional Network

Are you a budding professional? Or are you changing careers, hoping to break into that new hierarchy of skilled personnel?

Even if you’re a shy person who shudders slightly at the word networking, you have to admit it’s an essential part of our job-seeking culture. After all, it’s not what you know but who you know.

How can you enter this labyrinth of strange names and faces, trying to make connections with people you’ve admired from a distance but never had the opportunity (or courage) to meet? The answer lies in our technological society’s way of staying connected: social media.

Building a strong online presence can be just as important as interacting with people face to face, and a well-worded tweet to the right person can be just as effective as an in-person meeting.

One thing I’ve learned about networking is that it’s not about using people to fuel one’s ambitions; it’s about appreciating people through meaningful relationships. Many people have the wrong idea about how to network, believing they must hound complete strangers whom they have targeted as the most likely to give them a leg up in their career.

However, true networking is not self-interested, but community-minded. The following 10 tips will help you use social media to network effectively and in a way that benefits both you and your connections.

Networking Tips for Social Media Beginners

1. Start with your existing connections.

Most of us have accumulated phone, email, and Facebook contacts from colleagues, friends, and acquaintances we know in person. It’s a great place to start to reach out to the people you already know to make sure you have added them on other social networks, such as LinkedIn, and to make sure you have the correct information about them. These contacts form the epicenter of your network.

TIP: Import existing contacts to LinkedIn and Facebook from your online address book, or ask your friends, teachers, and colleagues for their email addresses. You can also join school groups, volunteer organizations, or associations on both these sites.

2. Reach out to your fellow social media users.

Once you feel confident with your founding network members, you can move to other applications. Reach out to people you’ve interacted with online in meaningful ways. Maybe you’re an avid reader of a blog or a dedicated follower of a fellow professional on Twitter. Look for spirited discussions on Facebook or other online forums. If you value this individual’s input or share their ideals, maybe you’ll be able to work with them or recommend a connection with another contact one day.

TIP: Start a conversation on Twitter to network with a professional. Stay polite, express genuine interest in that person, and support them before you share your personal goals.

3. Figure out where you want to be and whom you want to be like.

Sometimes learning how to network is a journey of self-discovery. But why not learn from the best? Plus, people often like to share their wisdom and help those who are just starting out. By researching people who hold interesting positions or people you admire in your field, you can start to plan the next phase of your networking—and of your own career.

TIP: Use the Company Search feature on LinkedIn to find out which companies employ the members of your network and when these companies are hiring. You can also use the Advanced Search function to find professionals and career opportunities in your field.

4. Build your online presence.

Completing your LinkedIn or Facebook profile is like wearing a complete outfit to an interview: the more coordinated and put-together you are, the better the first impression. Let your experiences, personal preferences, activities, and interests express your identity on social networks, and don’t limit yourself to just one platform. Start a blog. Write a review. Check your email (yes, and I mean frequently!). By being active on social media, you’ll give your friends and followers a better opportunity to learn about you and interact with you, allowing your network to grow in quality and in numbers.

TIP: Write an article on your blog, and include quotes from experts about a topic that interests you. In doing so, you’ll give those experts more exposure and establish a basis for building a new relationship with them. Don’t have a blog yet? Take a look at one of these popular blogging sites to get started!

5. Look for shared interests and things in common.cheese

What is your passion? Do you have a hobby, or are you part of a nerd group on Facebook? Believe it or not, your weird passion for the history of cheese making might actually pay off in your job search. Just as people converse more easily about subjects that interest them, you’ll find that your professional network will really open up when you share common interests.

TIP: Facebook Groups are a great way to network based on shared interests: you can share files, create events, and start polls about any topic you want and with whomever you want.

Social Media Tips for Networking like a Pro

If you are already familiar with networking or if you’ve already landed that dream job, there’s still more you can do to improve your professional network.

6. Join professional networks.

Once you’ve found your career niche, you can find a “version” of LinkedIn tailored to your own profession. For instance, academia.edu allows academics to share research papers with colleagues, and zerply.com connects talented film industry professionals with upcoming artistic projects. But don’t just stop at joining in—you should actively coordinate groups within your existing networks to keep your connections (old and new) alive.

TIP: Starting a LinkedIn Group is a way to form meaningful connections with smaller collections of people in common industries. They’re good places to connect with influencers in your field, allowing you to share content, ask questions, give answers, and make contacts.

7. Formality is good, but personality is better.

Remember the awkward icebreaker games they made you play on the first day of school? “Tell us your name, your favorite color, and one interesting fact about yourself!” If you were one of the outgoing ones who said, “I can do a perfect impression of a peacock!” (and then proceed to make said sound), chances are people remembered your name. Confidence always makes an impression on others, and part of that confidence involves reminding your network how they know you.

TIP: Send a friendly note reminding your colleague where you met, through whom you met, or what organization you have in common. LinkedIn prompts you to do this upon adding a connection, but make sure you take the initiative when connecting elsewhere. Sharing details about yourself can make you interesting and, above all, identifiable.

8. Practice the golden rule: help others in your network.LinkedIn

Building your professional network doesn’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) be all about you. Maybe you recently got an entry-level job in your field, and you see a position that one of your grad school friends could fill easily. Recommending that friend for the position can benefit your company, which gets a competent worker, as well as your friend, who gets a leg up in the industry—and it also helps you. Others will remember your thoughtfulness. Being part of a community means supporting others and receiving support in return.

TIP: Post job links, career fairs, and other professional events to your contacts in that field. Endorse the skills of former and current co-workers on LinkedIn, as this will provide them with value and make them more likely to reciprocate.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Reaching out to others for help might seem scary, but the worst anyone can say to you is “No.” Besides, professional development is all about cooperating with others, sharing your strengths, and allowing others to help you in your areas of weakness.

TIP: Instead of asking a complete stranger for a job straight away (why should they help?), ask for advice or request an informational interview from a fellow professional in a courteous, friendly manner. How (and when) you ask is just as important as what you ask.

10. Use online tools to build more face-to-face connections.

Remember the days when communication meant walking up to someone, writing them a letter, or dialing their phone number? (Okay, maybe you don’t.) Previous generations had to learn effective communication by non-digital means, but you still need interpersonal finesse when communicating online. For example, people in the business world don’t respond well to an email addressed “To Whom It May Concern” because it seems impersonal, communicating that you didn’t care enough to research the recipient of your message (even if your true intention is simply to be respectful).

The goal is to be both respectful and warm, and this can be done by taking the time to read about your connections and interact with them on a personal level. Once you’ve established a cordial online relationship, you can make your relationship even more personal with phone calls, notes, and even meetings.

TIP: Use meetup.com to arrange face-to-face meetings with professionals from your local area, or simply send a friendly email to an existing acquaintance in your network.

Other Great Social Media Networking Resources

  • Just starting your career search and want to make an impression? Try Inklyo’s How to Write a Resume course to learn how to create an attractive, professional resume.
  • Maybe you want to tailor your job search to a particular profession. Join beyond.com to find jobs from multiple streams.
  • Are you a local business owner? Try localsnetworking.com to meet other professionals in your area.
  • There are even sites for emerging innovators, such as angel.co and makerbase.co, which help you find the funding you need to get started in your field.

Ask Not What Your Professional Network Can Do For You…

Now you’re ready to harness the power of social media for your professional network. Remember, though, that these 10 tips are not about climbing to the top of the professional ladder at the expense of others—they are about connecting with others in a community-minded way. Whatever you do, wherever you go in life, it’s your relationships that matter, and showing consistent politeness and consideration toward others will be more important in the end than simply “getting ahead.”

Image Source: Daria Shevtsova/Unsplash.com, Jakub Rostkowski/Stocksnap.io, Freestocks.org/Stocksnap.io

How to Write a Resume

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What to Do after Graduation

What to Do After Graduation

What to do after graduation The final notes of Pomp and Circumstance fade into the background. The last graduate cap hits the ground with an anticlimactic thud. The final whoops and hollers diminish as you shuffle from the auditorium and into the Real World.

After the celebrations and the partying (oh, the partying), you’re left with a hollow question ringing in your mind: “Now what?” This question is the bane of all recent graduates as relatives, friends, and possibly coworkers sound off all around, echoing back the same question as if it hasn’t already been running through your mind ceaselessly.

Now what? Maybe the options feel too numerous; perhaps the world is too big but feels too small. However, the possibilities for which direction you should now take are endless. After so many years of school and for the first time ever, you finally get to decide what it is you want to do on your own.

No pressure, right? So, what is it you want to do? How can you possibly decide when there are so many different criteria to consider? By looking at your options and goals and carefully considering the decisions that need to be made in advance, the choice about what to do after graduation can be a happy one.

Option 1: Go Back to School

What? But I just emphasized how free you finally are! You were stuck in school for so many years, and you just finished! Why on earth would you ever want to go back?

Going back to school is a good option if you’ve already been struggling in the job market. If you’ve found that no positions are available in your field or that you don’t have enough schooling to land your target job, then you should consider packing your backpack again. Chances are you should give another career path a try or get more schooling (like your Ph.D.).

However, you should consider your financial situation. You probably have a ton of student debt to pay off as it is, so considering your financial situation is important before you sharpen your pencils again. If you can’t afford to go back to school, it’s probably a good idea to work outside your field or even in a job you feel overqualified for so you can earn some extra cash. You could also look into getting help through loans or scholarships.

Option 2: Enter the Workforce

You don’t want to go back to school. You’ve been there and done that so you could get the job you’ve always wanted. Let’s look at another possibility.

Entering the workforce is a good option if you’re looking to take the next step in your career. To work in your field, you probably went to school to take the appropriate program and earn the necessary qualifications. Now that you have them, you can finally get to work! Plus, you’ll be making that hard-earned money, which means you’ll be able to support yourself and work toward other goals.

However, you should consider your qualifications. Are you qualified enough to work in your field, or is more schooling necessary? You might not want to go back to school, but sometimes there’s no other choice. You should also consider your mental state. Are you totally worn down from school? If you’re burnt out and need a break, you probably won’t last long in the professional world, so it’s important to consider how you’re feeling before you dive into the next big thing.

Option 3: See the WorldNew York

You don’t have classes to work around anymore. You don’t have a job yet that you need to schedule time off from. You’re free—so free, you can travel the world!

Seeing the world is a good option if you’re looking to make the most of your freedom while you still have it. Because you have nobody to answer to but yourself now that you’ve graduated, you might want to travel somewhere you’ve never been, visit family or friends in another place, or revisit a spot you love. Now’s your chance to book that flight!

However, you should consider your financial situation once again. Do you have the extra money to go gallivanting around the world? Look at cheap destinations, find flight deals, and ask about staying with people you know. If you don’t have the money, you can work a temporary job before taking off for your vacation.

Option 4: Move Back Home

Maybe you’re tired. You just want to relax now that you’re finally done and take a mental break from study notes, teaching assistants, and exam questions. A familiar face is just what you need.

Moving back home is a good option if you’re looking to turn your brain off for a while and build some much-needed stamina. If you’re able to take a break and have a staycation, you’ll be able to breathe for a while and figure out exactly what direction you’ll take after your break. You can also save money by living at home.

However, you should consider your goals. Once you’ve put on the brakes, it’s easy to stay parked and not move again. Have an exit strategy for when you’re ready to leave. You’ll want to give yourself a time frame, and your parents will likely want you to have one, too. When do you want to be out on your own? You’ll have to have a game plan once you get there. Why exactly did you go to school? What’s next? Answering these questions will ensure that you stay motivated after your break.

Option 5: Help Someone Else

You didn’t pursue higher education to party in another country or to laze around at home! You went to school so you could better yourself. With a little work, you could help to better the world, too.

Volunteering is a good option if you want to give back. You can volunteer locally to give back to your community or volunteer abroad to better the world one step at a time. Helping other people is rewarding, and it’s always a good idea to volunteer if you can. You’ll also be able to add to any qualifications you need for job hunting with the appropriate volunteer work, so say hello to an improved resume.

However, you should consider your financial situation. While it’s nice to volunteer, it’s not always possible if you’re broke. You might want to consider working part-time while you volunteer so you can support yourself. If all else fails, living at home might help you to pursue your goal of volunteering, so say thank you to your accommodators and continue improving the lives of those around you!

Option 6: Pursue a Dream

You’ve got an idea in the back of your mind, a dream you’ve had for a long time but have never had the time to pursue. There’s nothing stopping you now!

Pursuing a dream is a good option if you want to cross a goal off your list. Now’s the perfect time for you to chase that dream you’ve always had. Whether you’ve always wanted to write a novel, be in a movie, get in shape, learn how to sword fight, or bowl a perfect 300, now is your chance! You have the time and the freedom to follow that dream of yours, and you’ll love yourself for using that time and freedom so wisely.

However, you should consider your financial situation. If you can’t afford to buy sword-fighting equipment or spend all your time at the bowling alley, your dream may have to wait until you can advance your professional career. The good news is that you can always pursue a dream after work hours, so don’t give up just yet!

Conclusion

Deciding what to do after graduation is a lot of pressure, but it should be exciting. After all, you’ve worked so hard to get to this point, and you’ve finally done it. Now that the celebrating’s over, it’s time to remember why you did it.

Image source: Juan Ramos/Unsplash.com, Steve Richey/Unsplash.com 

How to Write a Resume

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6 Things I Learned My First Year as a Professional Editor

Professional Editor

The past two years have been crazy for me. One minute I was a student, drowning in papers and dealing with stress-induced insomnia by ingesting large amounts of coffee (not my wisest choice), and the next I was employed as a professional editor. There I was, a recent graduate. Not only did I have an answer to the “So, what will you do now?” question, but I even had an answer that was related to my English major—you know, the one that everyone had been informing me for four years would be entirely useless upon graduation.

It felt good to silence the naysayers, and it felt even better to be gainfully employed and finally take a break from learning. Because there’s never anything new to learn with a new job—right?

Wrong, of course, completely and utterly wrong. There were tons of things to learn! Even though I’ve been working as a professional editor for nearly two years, I’m still learning new things every day. I’d like to share some of my best editing tips with you, aspiring editor, so that you may accelerate your own learning process a bit.

Editing Tip #1: Being a writer does not make you an editor, and being an editor does not make you a writer.

This is less of an editing tip and more of a reminder that editing is a very specific skill. If you’re considering pursuing a career as a professional editor, you need to be honest with yourself about what your capabilities really are. Maybe you got great marks in all your English classes, or you read three books a week. Perhaps you’ve written and even published your own work. All that is great, but it doesn’t mean you’re destined to become a professional editor.

To be an editor, you need a firm grasp of English grammar, but you also need to know how to correct others’ mistakes without eliminating their own voice. You need to be able to do this nicely. It may sound simple, but it’s rather difficult when you actually try. Some people are just plain bad at editing. Conversely, not all editors are writers. Plenty of them hate writing their own documents and prefer to polish existing writing. Remember, editing and writing are two very different skills. Though they are related, they do not necessarily always go together.

Editing Tip #2: If there’s one thing you should strive for above all else, it’s consistency.

Of course, you want to be consistently correct, not consistently incorrect. One of your most important skills as a professional editor, the one that sets you apart from non-editors, will be your ability to spot inconsistencies. This specific type of attention to detail will help you catch errors others would miss, making it extremely important. When you’re working as an editor, if you find yourself stumped about how to solve a certain problem (like, say, a formatting or style issue), the odds are pretty good that choosing to correct the error consistently will be an adequate solution.

Editing Tip #3: Be nice.

EditingCamp You might think that this one is a given, but trust me, you would be wrong. Lots of aspiring professional editors have a great deal of knowledge, and they find themselves bursting at the seams wanting to share this knowledge with clients. That’s good, but your focus as an editor should really be on correcting errors and helping clients improve their work rather than on explaining to them exactly what they did wrong. For one thing, the explanation is likely to go over their heads, and for another, you just sound like a snob when you lord your knowledge over someone else. Provide useful feedback, and be nice when correcting mistakes. Don’t be the reason that we editors have a bad rap; if you want to be part of the editing club, you have to try not to perpetuate the myths.

Editing Tip #4: With that being said, know the rules, and know them well.

Even though you’re not going to break out your correlative conjunction knowledge every time you have to correct a related comma error, you should still know what a correlative conjunction is. Studying the many nuances of English grammar will make you a better editor. If you haven’t already, consider reading a book, taking a course, or otherwise brushing up on the more complex rules of grammar. This way, when you come across a tricky clause, you’ll know exactly why and how you need to fix it.

Editing Tip #5: Google should be your best friend.

Being smart isn’t about having knowledge—it’s about knowing how to find and use the knowledge you need. The same goes for being a professional editor. Sure, you should have a good grasp of grammar rules and conventions, but you are going to encounter much that you don’t know. When that happens, your good friend Google can help. Whether you’re looking up the proper spelling of a medical term or doing basic fact-checking for a history paper, the Internet can be an inexhaustible resource to help you finish each project to the highest standard.

Editing Tip #6: Don’t skip the second pass.

If you’re considering a career in editing, you’re likely a perfectionist. All the good ones are. I hate to be the one to break this to you, but listen—even the most anal people make mistakes. Editors are no exception, which is why one of the best things a professional editor can do is to make sure to leave enough time to complete a second pass. Ideally, you should take a break between completing your first pass and starting your second one. Depending on how much time you have and how long the project is, consider going for a walk, taking a nap, or working on something else for a while. If you don’t complete a second pass, you’ll be sure to miss very obvious errors.

Conclusion

There you have it: six editing tips from my first year as a professional editor. If you’re an amateur editor yourself, I hope you took something useful from this post. If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in this challenging but rewarding field, I hope I’ve helped you make your decision.

Image source: Vladimir Kudinov/Stocksnap.io

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How to Use Keywords to Navigate Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant Tracking Systems If you’re looking for employment, you’ve probably lost count of the number of online job postings you’ve answered. When you apply to an online posting, you may receive an email from the company acknowledging the receipt of your resume and noting that the document is currently under review. And then . . . crickets.

Tumbleweeds.

Weeks (and possibly months) pass without any additional contact from the company or hiring manager.

To understand this unfortunate, all-too-common issue with online applications, it’s important to consider how companies evaluate the resumes that applicants submit online. Does the image of an overworked hiring manager come to mind, anxiously sifting through emails and reviewing thousands upon thousands of resumes?

That image is partly correct.

Yes, the volume of resumes that companies receive in response to a single job posting is often overwhelming. And though it is true that finding the ideal candidate for a job is very strenuous, hiring managers use specific tools to make the recruitment process more efficient.

One of these tools is the applicant tracking system. If you’re not receiving responses from companies when you submit your resume online, then an applicant tracking system may be the culprit.

These systems automatically screen resumes well before they hit the hiring manager’s desk (or inbox, as the case may be). Applicant tracking systems identify the most suitable candidates and discard the resumes of those whom these systems classify as underqualified.

By eliminating the resumes of unqualified candidates, applicant tracking systems reduce the number of resumes that hiring managers have to review.

Keywords and Applicant Tracking Systems

An applicant tracking system determines the degree to which the information in an applicant’s resume matches the requirements outlined in the job description. The factors that these systems consider include occupational skills, employment history, past employers, and educational background.

The system then assigns a score to each applicant. These scores are used to determine which applicants will move on to the next round of hiring and, subsequently, which resumes the hiring manager will actually see. So, this basically means that your application may be eliminated from the pool of qualified candidates before it ever is reviewed by human eyes.

On top of that, these systems are not perfect and occasionally disqualify candidates who are actually ideal for the position.

Don’t lose hope!

Although these systems are growing more and more sophisticated (and sometimes cost companies millions of dollars), there are also many helpful techniques that job seekers can use to ensure their resumes get past the seemingly insurmountable barrier of applicant tracking systems.

Given that applicant tracking systems scan resumes for information related to the job posting, applicants must also learn to optimize their use of keywords within their resumes.

Keywords (in the context of applicant tracking systems) represent the primary job responsibilities and professional skills that are required for a position (e.g., “customer service,” “analytical skills,” or “strategic management”), as well as the appropriate employment history, years of experience, and education.

Applicant tracking systems use keywords to form a link between a candidate’s qualifications and the requirements outlined in the job description.

To identify the keywords you must use in your resume, your first step is to look to the job posting itself. The most relevant keywords will be the terms and phrases that are repeated throughout the description. The name of the position itself is a great indicator of the possible keywords that should be used (e.g., if you are applying for a position as a financial analyst, then these two terms should be considered relevant keywords).

Keywords can also be unique to certain fields. For example, in the case of information technology, a keyword may include the names of specific programming languages.

In some fields, certain acronyms are very common (such as “CPA,” which stands for “certified public accountant”). A great trick is to use both the spelled-out version of the term and the acronym itself. The hiring manager may have programmed the applicant tracking system to scan resumes for the acronym or the complete term. By using both, you can rest assured that you’ve got yourself covered.

However, a simple laundry list of keywords won’t cut it. When assigning a score to a resume, applicant tracking systems place more weight on keywords that are contextualized and are used in conjunction with other related terms.

And, yes, while you should use keywords in your resume, do not overload your resume with them. Try to ensure that the placement of keywords is appropriate and natural. Finally, remember: an applicant tracking system will not be able to process a keyword if it is misspelled, so always double-check that your spelling is correct.

Conclusion

Although issues such as formatting also play a big part in overcoming applicant tracking systems, you’re now a master of one step of the process: using keywords to help get your resume to the hiring manager’s desk.

To ensure that your resume continues performing once it’s there, check out Inklyo’s online course on resume writing, a research-backed and up-to-date guide for writing a resume, which includes resume examples, ready-to-use resume templates, and more.

How to Write a Resume

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How to Get Your Business Email Read Past the Subject Line

Business Email

Learning how to structure and write a business email is vital if you want the recipient to read it and respond. You probably want to come across as assertive but polite, comprehensive but to the point, and urgent but not annoying. Finding such a balance in business writing can be tricky, but it’s by no means impossible. We’re here to help.

To help you master business email writing, we’re providing you with a simple structure to follow. Outlines are an immensely helpful tool to use in any kind of writing because all you have to do is fill in the blanks. Using our eight-step process, your email should generally adhere to the following format:

  1. Subject line
  2. Greeting
  3. Introduction
  4. Reason for contacting the recipient
  5. Call to action
  6. Gratitude
  7. Sign-off
  8. Editing

This clear outline will help you write your email quickly and effectively. With our business email writing process, you’ll get your email read past the subject line and your foot in whichever door you choose.

1. Provide enough information in the subject line

To get your email read past the subject line, the first thing you will need is an engaging subject line. Most important, it should be informational. Make sure your subject line correctly summarizes the email’s message. That means no spammy-sounding clickbait. You want your email to be read, but false advertising in the subject line will result in the loss of your recipients’ respect after the initial read-through.

It’s also important that your subject line isn’t too long. Be succinct! I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to log on to a computer because the sender’s subject line was too long to read on my smartphone. Don’t make the same mistake; some people won’t even go out of their way to read your whole subject line, let alone your email.

2. Be friendly and formal in the greeting

Make sure your greeting is friendly yet formal. It’s important that you address the recipient by name whenever possible. You should hunt for the correct name and verify that you’ve spelled it right. If you don’t know the name, a simple “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Committee” will suffice.

Ensure that you know the person’s gender for certain before you ever use gendered language. Avoiding these embarrassing mistakes is important in business email writing; one small mistake can secure your email a spot in the trash bin with a simple click.

3. Make sure they know who you are immediately

Making a good first impression is a two-step process: impress the person on the other end, and flatter him or her. First, you’ll want to introduce yourself as soon as you possibly can in the email. The introduction step should only need one line containing your name and what you do (but only what you do as it is relevant to the email). You’ll also want to mention any mutual friends or experiences here, if applicable.

You may also wish to employ some flattery early on. If they don’t know you and you have nothing in common, perhaps they can know you as an admirer. You should explain what motivated you to contact them specifically, such as an inspiring paper or an impressive accomplishment listed on LinkedIn. However, if it’s obvious why you’re contacting them (like a call for submissions) or the person on the other end is anonymous, feel free to skip this part.

All this might seem excessive, but remember: write one sentence for the introduction and maybe one to butter them up a bit. That’s it! Don’t completely overwhelm the recipient with paragraphs of information outlining your biography and every little accomplishment. You also shouldn’t drone on and on about how great they are, as people can smell insincerity a mile away! If you’re being honest in your compliments, any flattery you employ should blend in quite nicely.

4. Provide a clear and succinct reason for contacting them

Now you can get to the real meat of the email. Why are you writing? Explain, as concisely as possible, what it is you want or how they can help you. If it helps, outline the reasons for contacting them beforehand to ensure a clear and concise email. Email is generally a short format, so there should be no overwhelming blocks of text.

5. Ensure an obvious call to action

What is it that you want the recipient to do by the end of your email? If it’s a simple response, make an easy call to action (e.g., “Please feel free to reply to this email address with your answer”). If it’s a request for them to look at your webpage or portfolio, provide a link (e.g., “Please click here to view more of my work”). If you would like them to open an attachment, direct the recipient’s attention to its existence (e.g., “Please see the attached file for more information”).

It doesn’t matter if it’s more concrete, like meeting somewhere or performing a specific task. Just make sure that what you want them to do is clear and that your request is polite. Think of business relationships in terms of symbiosis: both parties have something to offer, so ask for what you want but be nice about it. On that same note . . .

6. Be polite and thank them for their time

You know that advertising campaign by Dos Equis, The Most Interesting Man in the World? You need to be The Most Polite Person in the World. Generally, this means being a little less direct. If you want something, you probably shouldn’t just say “I want . . .” Instead, try “I was hoping I could have . . .” or “Would you mind if I had . . .” Because the language is a little bit softer, it sounds more polite.

Remember that recipients cannot see your expressions when reading your email. All they have to go on to determine your demeanor is your words. That’s why even direct language that isn’t intended to be rude at all can come across as abrasive in text format. You need to be aware of that while you’re writing.

You should also thank recipients for their time at the end of your email. If they’ve gotten that far, it means they’ve read your email, and that deserves your gratitude, indeed.

7. Sign off (and don’t forget to include your contact information)

Now it’s time to sign off. There’s a lot of debate about the best way to end an email, so we’ll leave it to you to decide which way best suits your email’s tone and purpose. Consider how formal you want to come across and how friendly you want to sound, and find what you need on the spectrum.

Try not to overthink it. Use something you might say in real life, and be respectful. Chances are that the person on the other end won’t think about your sign off as much as you do, unless you completely miss the mark. You’ll also want to include your name, once again, and your contact information. Make sure everything is clear and accurate before you hit Send.

8. Edit and proofread

Your email is fully written. You’ve typed your name and contact information, and you’re scrolling up to the top. Your hand is hovering over the Send button. With a simple click, your email will be flying through the Internet, never to be seen again. After you send it, though, you notice a glaring error.

It is absolutely vital that your business email is completely error-free. That goes for grammar, spelling, clarity, sentence structure, and tone. Read over your email a few times to be absolutely sure it is all correct. Scribendi.com president Chandra Clarke suggests changing the font size and color to get a fresh perspective on your words.

However, if you need an objective pair of eyes, or if you want to save yourself the frustration, you could always hire a professional editor or proofreader. It might seem like overkill, but business emails can greatly affect your professional persona; ensuring clarity and accuracy will demonstrate your commitment to professionalism and attention to detail.

Conclusion

Using our simple business email writing process, you’ve written your email from the subject line to the call to action to the sign-off. You’ve had the whole thing professionally edited and proofread, and you’ve employed all the necessary changes. It’s perfect, just perfect! You almost don’t want to send it, because that would mean saying goodbye.

Well, take a deep breath, because it’s finally time to hit Send! I know it’s hard. But before you know it, you’ll have a shiny new email response in your inbox. So pat yourself on the back because you’ve just sharpened your business writing skills, and who knows how far you’ll go now? There’s no email in the world you can’t handle!

Image source: Lia Leslie/Stocksnap.io

Effective Business Communication