How to Write Your Best (Non-Boring) Resume

3 Expert Tips You Need for a Better & Bolder Resume

How to Write Your Best (Non-Boring) Resume: WordsbyErynn

Starting the search for a new job is scary enough, but when you’re also faced with a lackluster resume that’s screaming to be made over? Or maybe it’s just sighing, since it’s too dull to do much more than that?

Banish the blahs with these tips for writing your best (and non-boring) resume!

 

1. Look for interchangeable terms

That synonym feature in Microsoft Office? There’s no shame in using it!

If you’ve spent hours racking your brain and can’t figure out how to describe your extensive experience, go ahead and click that synonym button and start skimming. Even if you don’t find the perfect word to describe your experience scrubbing toilets in a way that sounds super glamorous (polishing privies?), it might spark your imagination.

For people with a rather vanilla C.V. that lists the same job functions repeatedly for each position, this is a helpful tip for breaking up the monotony. The whole point of a resume is to attract attention to your best qualities and your experience- to get you an interview.

Potential employers won’t keep reading if they’re bored out of their minds. Feel free to spice it up a little! Sure, you wrote reports at your last job. But you did the same task in your previous job too. It’s not a huge stretch to say that you created reports, transcribed them, or documented or detailed them.

 

2. Your resume = your stage

That little blurb at the top of many prepackaged curriculum vitae design bundles? It’s meant for a professional profile, or a competencies section, or an objectives area. But what is its actual purpose?

Attracting attention!

What’s going to make a potential employer pick your resume up and take more than a cursory glance at it? A catchy, short, and decidedly non-generic description of who you are and what you do.

Sure, underline your current job title under your name at the top of the resume, but expand on that directly underneath. Three to five sentences packed with your best qualities are preferable to a bland statement about wanting to work for a company with upward mobility or a commitment to integrity. Right?

Think about what makes you different and valuable in the workplace. Is it your penchant for positivity? Aptitude for number crunching? Explore more than just your tendency for punctuality or your ability to multitask. Besides, multitasking is a lie anyway- and many employers won’t choose to interview you based on those types of claims alone.

 

3. Show, don’t tell

Brag on yourself a little- it might land you the job of your dreams. Click To Tweet

If you’re a sales figure-busting powerhouse that consistently surpasses company thresholds for excellence, define it in a way that speaks to potential employers. Quote statistics or amounts of cold hard cash you saved or earned your current employer, and prospective employers will form a better picture of what your abilities are.

It’s one thing to claim knowhow in a specific area, but it’s quite another to display that readily on paper. Forbes contributor Jon Youshaei says to “quantify your impact,” which makes perfect sense.

Throw those numbers around and show employers what you’re capable of. In that same vein, use Jon’s strategy of relating your accomplishments to the competition. He gives an example of noting an award you’ve received, alongside statistics that show how many people you beat out.

Brag on yourself a little- it might land you the job of your dreams.

 

What’s your secret to getting noticed on paper?

I’d love to know what helped you get hired for your dream job!

How to Hire Great Hospitality Staff

In my first career as a customer-facing service person, I saw plenty of hospitality staff come and go.  One might assume that high turnover is a given in the industry, especially in food service.  But there are keys to finding and hiring the right staff.  Staff who will hopefully stick around long enough to positively impact the business!  Below I’ll share five hospitality-focused tips for hiring an exceptional staff.

Here are five key hospitality-focused tips for hiring an exceptional staff- and ensuring a high level of service for your customers. WordsbyErynn.com

How to Hire Great Hospitality Staff

 

The hospitality industry encompasses businesses of all sizes, in a variety of settings.  While your small cafe business has vastly different needs (and budget constraints) than a six hundred acre theme park, the end goal of both is the same: happy guests!  A competent and invested front line staff is your biggest asset when it comes to receiving and impressing clients.  But how to find them in a pool of prospects?

 

1. Look for passion

If we’re being realistic, most applicants are looking for a job because they need the money.  We all have to make a living, of course.  But it’s important to keep an eye out for those who are saying the right thing to get in the door, and don’t plan to invest much in their work.  Look for those who are actually enthusiastic about flipping burgers, answering telephones, and repeating themselves thirty times a day (ha!).

There are workers who exist that don’t mind the particulars of their daily jobs, when they know the service that they provide is part of the bigger picture.  In my personal experience, it’s not a passion that can be grown from a distaste for the work.  It can, however, be fueled by positive reinforcement and a supportive team environment.  One that you’re building as you create your ideal hospitality team!

 

Service Wins the Game - Tony Allesandra

2. Expect a desire for growth

While an interviewee may not blatantly state that she hopes to move up the ranks to director one day, listen for her career path direction.  A great employee will look for ways to grow with the company.  This is true of every industry, of course, but in hospitality the relationships we build with clients are priceless.

Hiring a team member who hopes to stick around, whether in your department or the neighboring one, ensures loyalty to the organization.  Great for those repeat customers, and great for the company overall.  A career seeker will contribute more positive energy than an undecided who hasn’t yet zeroed in on his end goal.

 

3. Pose sample scenarios

When asked organization-specific questions about plausible scenarios, does the interviewee give answers that she expects you want to hear?  Or does she think in a way that is novel to the rest of your team?  We know diversity is key in great teams, and the same is true of our approach to problem solving.

The more hands on deck, the more ideas tossed out, the less likely the ship is to sink.  Consider thinking outside the box to be a stellar asset.

 

4. Get a feel for personality

An interview allows you to experience a small snippet of a prospective employee’s personality.  It can be hard to deduce how much is best-face-forward, and how much is true nature.  However, it should be noticeable if this potential team member uses humor to diffuse negative or uncomfortable situations.

Behavior in an interview- a high stress environment- can tell us a lot about how this individual handles conflict.  Does he avoid eye contact and fidget when faced with a difficult question?  Does he stay calm and keep a poker face?  This can hint at how he’ll respond to difficulties on the customer service stage.

 

5. Aim for team cohesiveness

Power struggles can harsh the mellow of your work space- and ultimately result in the loss of A+ employees.

Power struggles can harsh the mellow of your work space- and ultimately result in the loss of A+ employees. Click To Tweet

Aim to blend a hospitality team with complementary traits, and avoid forcing dominant personalities into competing roles.  If your ideal employee is a cold-calling, hard-hitting sales machine, then a strong and independent personality suits your organization.

Conversely, if you’re hoping to blend a team of strategic thinkers that will team up to put your guests first, feel free to forward that sales machine to another department for consideration.

In conclusion

You want a passionate, forward- and quick-thinking personality that will mesh well with existing team members.  Hospitality is not the place for cranky or self-serving employees, and you’ll quickly learn through attentive interviewing which ones fit your expectations, and your business’s needs.

What is your number one demand for curating an exceptional hospitality staff?  Feel free to add to the list!

3 Ways to Look Like a Professional (Even If You Have No Clue What You’re Doing)

We all have to start somewhere!  Although you might be new to being a professional biz personality, that doesn’t mean you have to look green.  Maybe you’re not a people person or aren’t sure how to handle your first day on the job.  If you’re lost and need direction on keeping up appearances while managing your fledgling business, I’ve got you covered.  Here are three tricks I’ve learned to help you look like a professional, even when you have no clue what you’re doing.

 

3 Ways to Look Like a Professional… Even If You Have No Clue What You’re Doing

 

3 Ways to Look Like a Professional (Even If You Have No Clue What You're Doing)- WordsbyErynn

 

Dress to impress (online)

Dress for the job you want, not the one you have, right?  We’ve heard the tired line of advice about faking it ’til you make it, but did you know there are statistics to back up the fact that your physical attributes and even professional attitude can impact your career?

Forbes has an entire article about executive presence, and reported that your career advancement is directly connected with how confident and authoritative you appear- and this presence counts for about a fourth of your promotional potential.  While this data was gleaned from an executive boardroom type environment, the bottom line is the same.  You literally have to fake it ’til you make it (and keep ironing those dress pants).  Being meek and withdrawn won’t win you any accolades, since the higher ups are most impressed by forward thinking and an air of self importance.  Physical appearance plays a part, but it’s a small component of the overall package that is uber professional and authoritative you.

But what if your business doesn’t happen in a boardroom or office building with endless rows of cubicles and highly sought after corner offices?

In the digital business world, transactions take place over email, and “face to face” can often just mean via Skype.  In this setting, professional dress and the ability to dominate the company meeting with brilliant biz ideas can only take you so far.  If your business involves regular, digital face time with clients, you already know wearing a tie or ironed shirt will help your image.

For the rest of us that seem to only exist in the cyberspace between our laptop screens and our clients’, this 3 step non-physical-appearance guide translates that physical executive presence into actionable online business communication.  After all, the client on the other end of your electronic communication won’t have any clue what you look like, so there’s no banking on good looks to float you through.

 

1. Don’t say, “I don’t know…”

 

This is a valuable yet straightforward gem I learned from years in customer service.  For a concept so simple, it seemed difficult for many a retail employee to digest.  Bottom line: if I don’t know the answer to your question, it’s my job to find it.  Whether I’m the janitor or the CEO, it’s in my job description to be helpful.  Particularly in my own business, because, after all, I should know everything about it.

Right?

The truth is, we all forget details on occasion (usually the worst occasions).  Another truth is, there’s no excuse for not keeping track of the ins and outs of your business.  If a client doesn’t recall the amount you quoted them on a project, is it really in your best interest to answer with “I don’t know, I emailed you the quote weeks ago”?

Nope, definitely not.  It’s worth the ten minutes of outbox searching (or better yet, taking notes in the first place- hello Google sheets!) to find the exact figure.  But as a conscientious business owner, you wouldn’t dream of being outright rude or unhelpful to a client.  At least, I hope you wouldn’t.

But, there are other ways this lackadaisical approach to information sharing could hurt your business.  If a client asks for a quote on a new project and you’ve never billed for that type of work before, there’s no reason you have to flounder helplessly.  Hopping online can help you figure out how to structure project proposals- and to bill for the work you’re doing- without letting the client know you were desperately skimming Pinterest for invoicing tips.

There were times in my early days of freelancing when I’d head to search engines for advice on any number of small biz topics.  Just when I was praying for expert advice on filing freelance taxes, up came a result perfectly suited to that conundrum.  There’s no one comprehensive guide to making it all work, as a freelancer or any business owner.  However, there is no lack of super helpful information that can be found and stored in your savvy biz owner information receptacle.  And by that, I obviously mean your secret Pinterest board.

 

2. Don’t say, “I think…”

 

You’re the expert.

Your opinions are not opinions, they’re facts.

 

You're the expert. Your opinions are not opinions, they're facts. Click To Tweet

 

If you’re giving advice to a client, or making suggestions for a project, think about why you’re tempted to preface a comment with “I think.”

Is it because you’re not sure about the proposition?  Are you hesitant to put yourself out there for fear of failure?  If these worries are holding you back, you likely shouldn’t be giving that particular piece of advice at all.  If what you’re saying to a client isn’t something you’d want plastered on a billboard, or across Twitter, it’s probably best left unsaid.

On the other hand, if you’re saying “I think” because you’re trying to be friendly and gentle with your client…

Knock it off.

You’re the expert for a reason.  Clients come to you and trust you for that reason.  You know why formula X Y Z works.  Just because you’re scared to offend a client doesn’t mean they don’t need the help that you’re poised to offer.  A key strategy is to offer advice in the form of “this is great for you because…” rather than “I think this might work for you because…”  There is a huge difference between being approachable and being timid, and we want conversational, helpful input- without the wishy washy.

There is much to be said about the language we use with our customers, but overall the idea is to focus on positive phrasing and a problem solving attitude.  Consider your client’s perspective when answering questions (even if it’s the 100th such inquiry today).  Definitely don’t write in all caps.  Emojis should be used sparingly, since we are serious business persons, after all.

Your clients want results, and you’re [obviously] the pro to deliver them.  Just make sure your delivery comes across pro, too.

 

3. Don’t over-apologize

 

Of course, apologize when necessary.  As in, when you actually screw up.  If you constantly apologize for every little thing, from a misunderstanding that wasn’t your fault, to not answering an email the moment you received it, you risk looking like a doormat.  Also, you look a little guilty, not to mention awkward.

Save those apologies for when they’re truly needed.  Like when you’re so deathly ill you can’t crawl to the computer or get to the post office in time to meet a set deadline.  Or when tech malfunctions keep you from accessing important documents (because even the Cloud isn’t foolproof, right?).  There will be times when your client deserves- and likely expects- a sincere apology.  But over-apologizing can cause your clients to lose confidence in you, because it can start to sound hollow.

As a people-pleaser, holding back the sorries might be difficult for you (*raises hand*).  You  might want to save people from their problems.  Make sure their coffee has just the right amount of sugar, fold their napkin just so, wipe away any crumbs.  But if you’re caught up in fine-combing the less significant details, then you’re not wholeheartedly invested in your actual work.  Besides, it’s highly unlikely that every snafu that comes up is legitimately your fault in the first place.

There’s no point in apologizing solely for your tendency to take up space (or breathe!).  We all miss an email occasionally, mean to reply and forget, or need time to think a prospect through.  If you’re offering customers awesomeness 99% of the time, that 1% of oops will be covered.

 

Keep your eye on the prize!

 

Ok, that one’s just a bonus.

But seriously:

A few months from now, or even years from now, you’ll look back on your new biz owner days with pride.  And without flinching!  Earning an actual paycheck through your ingenuity and hard work is the coolest grown up feeling ever.  So is earning trust and respect from your clients.  After all, without them, you wouldn’t have a business!

We’re all scared to venture out of our safe spaces, but to brand yourself as the expert in your craft, it’s wholly necessary!  Your reputation is intermingled with every sale you make.  The key is being aware of how you portray yourself in your business and in your client interactions.

How do you ensure that your online “executive presence” and your brand are being represented in the absolute best light?  I’d love to know!

 

What I Learned Writing for a Content Mill

Any experienced freelancer will tell you: run from content mills.  Rates are low, jobs can be boring, and you’re anonymous in a sea of thousands or more.  How do we know this?  Because we’ve been there, tried it, and lived to tell the tale.  Today I’m going to share what I learned from writing for a content mill.  Also, I’ll share why I don’t recommend trying it yourself!

 

Today I'm going to share what I learned from writing for a content mill. Also, I'll share why I don't recommend trying it yourself! WordsbyErynn.com

What I Learned Writing for a Content Mill

 

In short:

Discipline, creative thinking, and research skills.

 

Writing for a content site forced me to be disciplined in my writing.

 

Those low rates I mentioned?  Even lower when it takes you an hour to research.  And that’s before you even begin writing.  When I started out on a content mill site, I quickly learned that to actually be making money, I had to churn out content quickly.  For jobs between $4.00 and $8.00 an article, even $10.00 an hour seems daunting to achieve.  I’m a perfectionist, so I would always want to edit and re-edit and keep working on projects.  Had I hit submit sooner, I would have made a tad more money, but still, nothing like a full time wage.

But, dealing with this type of time crunch gave me the framework for managing my time writing for personal clients.  Now I plan out the steps for each process (writing web copy, editing a resume, crafting a blog post), and make sure I stick to a timeline that is realistic and makes an actual income.

 

Content mills demand that you think outside the box.

 

All writers have experienced creative block at one time or another.  We’ve sat staring at our notebook or computer screen, ready to punch something (or maybe cry).  What else could we possibly say that hasn’t been said already?  (I do have some ideas, 7 Simple Strategies for Breaking Through a Creative Block)

A lot, actually!

Writing content on assigned topics can really get those creative juices flowing.  When faced with a red car, you make it a maroon vehicle, a cranberry automobile, a burgundy set of wheels.  There is always another way to say what needs to be said.  That is one valuable takeaway from my content mill writing days!

Now, part of my product description writing process involves brainstorming topical words related to each item or area (woo SEO!).  I’ve got content mills to thank for that technique.  Rather than reusing the same words over and over again, I incorporate synonyms or related terms (this was even before I knew much about SEO or long tail keywords) and have a list ready for when I (inevitably) hit a wall.

 

Writing articles on new topics required me to dive back into research reminiscent of college paper requirements.

 

The main difference between college research and content writing research is that now hyperlinks are in!  While this makes it easy to link back to your source, finding reliable sources in the first place can take up a lot of your pre-writing minutes (or hours, but hopefully not!).  In writing for the content site, I was reminded of how necessary it is to skim an entire article before citing it as a source, and practice paraphrasing without plagiarizing is valuable too.

Fortunately, the majority of my current writing clients don’t require scientific or technical resource citations for articles.  Still, I’m often required to watch videos (and take notes), peruse multiple websites (including the competition), and deduce important information from existing webpages or posts.  Getting back into the habit of sourcing information and organizing it in an effective and engaging way is definitely a plus.

 

But (and it’s a big but), I wouldn’t do it again.

 

Sure, I honed a few important skills.  I did survive exposure to the dark side of content writing. But I wouldn’t go back.

Yes, the money is terrible. But the worst part about working for content mills is the anonymity.  I have a list of recurring clients who regularly tell me how helpful I am for their businesses, and it’s amazing to have that kind of relationship with a customer.  You just don’t get that with the penny pinching article sites.  You might know who your client is, and it might be a big name in the online biz world.  The problem is,  you can’t take credit for the work or earn long term gigs from it.  Plus, no matter how much you impress a client, it’s the content broker’s evaluation of your writing that dictates the rate you’re paid and the jobs available to you.

So as tempting as it might be to drop in and churn out two bucks a pop articles for a little latte money, there are better ways!

Job boards, cold pitching, even Craigslist will get you higher paying jobs than content sites.  Not to mention a whole lot more respect!  If you’re considering writing as a career, jump right in and slap a value on your service from the get-go.  There are plenty of writing gigs for us all, content mills included!

 

Today I'm going to share what I learned from writing for a content mill. Also, I'll share why I don't recommend trying it yourself! WordsbyErynn.com

 

So tell me, have you ever written for a content mill?

 

What was your experience?  Do you have any advice for others considering it?

 

 

 

 

7 Simple Strategies for Breaking Through a Creative Block

As creatives, we’ve all run into a seemingly impossible space where the ideas just. won’t. flow. Writers seem particularly susceptible to this dilemma, but we’re not the only ones! Fortunately, since I’ve consciously employed the following strategies, I’ve been circumventing that pesky creative block. Next time you’re up against a blank screen or blank paper, try one of these seven ideas to get the bright ideas glowing again!

 

7 Simple Strategies for Breaking Through a Creative Block

 

Next time you're up against a blank screen or blank paper, try one of these seven ideas to get the bright ideas glowing again and banishing creative block. Inspiration from WordsbyErynn.com.

Do something you’re terrible at to switch gears.

No, really.

It’s not to make you suffer:

Not only will you encourage your mind to switch gears, you’ll also appreciate your own craft more when you return to the task at hand. I wouldn’t advise delving so deep that you get frustrated, but sketching instead of sewing or cooking instead of computing can help to reroute your creativity and knock down creative block.

 

Bust out a coloring book and get to stress-relieving.

How it helps:

It may be “mindless,” but this lets your thoughts wander and morph, potentially leading to a breakthrough. Plus, there’s something super satisfying about coloring inside the lines and sharpening fresh pencils (or is this just me?).

There’s a reason grown-up coloring books are everywhere, and it’s because kids aren’t the only ones who benefit from getting their scribbles out.

 

Get out of your comfort zone to discover fresh perspective.

Rather than holing up in your office, or gluing yourself to the work table until the project finishes itself, take your work space out of the equation.

For me, this means chasing my kids and/or engaging in adult conversation. Both serve as brain-distracting tasks that take me out of my creative prison! When I return to my work, it’s a welcome change to jump back within my own mind and creative process.

 

People watch for inspiration.

Bonus points for venturing out into a public place, since this can be done via your favorite sitcom. Yes, this is explicit permission to load Netflix and begin binge watching!

But don’t just mindlessly indulge:

Make sure to keep an eye out for visuals, topics, or character developments of interest.

 

Check out others’ work for innovative ideas.

I always get a jolt of inspiration after reading others’ blogs, or analyzing the copy on their business websites. Look to a peer (or idol) in your genre to see what they’re up to.

Definitely don’t plagiarize, but consider expanding on idea they’ve shared. Or, try a project in the same medium they use. As long as the end result is uniquely yours, no one needs to know which artist or entrepreneur you secretly stalk.

 

Plan an event or outing to check off to-do’s for a refreshing change of pace.

Upcoming birthday? Far off vacation? Need to make a grocery list?

Now is the perfect time to start on another task- either necessary, or frivolously enjoyable. Diving into a personal project can refresh your desire to work on, well, “work.”

Plus, thinking ahead to your to-do list ensures that you’re making progress in your personal life too, not just the business arena.

 

Give yourself an assignment to encourage meaningful work and end ongoing creative block.

I always work most efficiently with a client’s guidelines (and timeline) in my toolkit. For my own projects, I have to develop each from scratch, and decide on the parameters.

I’ve found that following a template and answering key questions always get me on track for writing my own blog posts and developing content. Revive the meaning behind what you do, by following ‘rules’ for completion, and guarantee that you’ll consistently turn out work you’re proud of.

 

Think you’ll try one of these strategies to get rid of a looming creative block? Or do you have your own secrets to get the brainstorm brewing?

7 Simple Strategies for Banishing Creative Block from WordsbyErynn.com