Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

Essentials of Business Communication


									      Writing a Winning
DVC Phi Beta Lambda Workshop
               October 29, 2009
              Carolyn M. Seefer

   “Think not of yourself as an architect of your
    career but as the sculptor. Expect to have to
    do a lot of hard hammering and chiseling and
    scraping and polishing.”
                             --Bertie Charles Forbes
                             founder of Forbes magazine

   “Your work is to discover your work and then
    with all your heart to give yourself to it.”

Getting Started
   Research the job market.
       Use newspapers, the Web, and
        other resources to learn about jobs,
        qualifications, and employers.
   Analyze your strengths.
       What will sell you for the job you
   Study other résumés as models.
       Experiment with formatting and
But don’t do this!

Choosing a Résumé Style
   Chronological
       Most popular style
       Preferred by most recruiters
       List work history job by job, starting with most recent position
       Best for those with steady career growth who have experience in
        the field
   Functional
       Focuses on skills rather than past employment
       Best for those who have changed jobs frequently, recent
        graduates, those with employment gaps, career changers, and
        older candidates who want to de-emphasize a long job history

Writing a Persuasive Résumé
   Heading
       Name (add middle initial for a more professional look) goes on first line
       Complete address
       Phone number with area code.
       Cell phone number (?)
       Professional e-mail address.
       Make your name stand out (bold, larger font).
   Example:
                               Casey J. Jepson
                          2338 Brighton Way
                      Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Home: (925) 935-1653 Cell: (925) 937-5594 E-Mail:

Writing a Persuasive Résumé,
   Career Objective
       Optional, but many recruiters prefer it.
       Should be specific about the type of
        job you are seeking.
       Objective should focus on employer‟s
        needs, not your own.
       Make sure it doesn‟t downplay your
        talents (avoid using phrase
        entry-level position).
       Should be concise (no more than 3 lines).
       Avoid complete sentences and pronoun I.

Career Objective Samples
   Weak (too general)
       A challenging position in the accounting field with opportunity for growth
   Improved
       An auditor position in an internal corporate accounting department
        where my accounting skills, computer experience, knowledge of GAAP,
        and attention to detail will help the company run efficiently and ensure
        that its records are kept accurately
   Weak (too self-serving)
       To obtain a meaningful and rewarding position that enables me to learn
        more about the graphic design field and allows for advancement
   Improved
       Position with advertising firm designing Web sites, publications, logos,
        and promotional displays for clients, where creativity, software
        knowledge, and proven communication skills can be used to build client
        base and expand operations

Writing a Persuasive Résumé,
   Summary of Qualifications
       3-8 bulleted statements that prove you‟re the ideal
        candidate for the position
       Mention highlights, including your experience in the field,
        your education, your unique skills, awards you‟ve won,
        certifications, and any other accomplishments that you
        want to stress
       Include numbers wherever possible
       Target the most important qualifications
        an employer will be looking for in the
        person hired for this position

Summary of Qualifications –
Example (1)
Current college student with limited experience:

   Over three years‟ experience in administrative positions, working
    with business documents and interacting with customers
   Ability to keyboard (65 wpm) and use ten-key calculator (150 kpm)
   Proficient with Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint,
    FrontPage, and Publisher (passed MOS certification exam)
   Competent in Web research, written and oral communication,
    records management, desktop publishing, computer software
    troubleshooting, and proofreading and editing business documents
   Trained in QuickBooks, Flash, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver
   Experienced in planning all-day seminars and travel arrangements

Summary of Qualifications –
Example (2)
Current college student with related experience:

   Over three years‟ experience as a bank teller
   Proven ability to interact professionally, efficiently, and pleasantly
    with customers
   Reputation for accuracy and ability to work well under pressure
   Speak Spanish fluently
   Experience using Excel, Word, PowerPoint, accounting software,
    banking CRT, and the Internet
   Member of First Federal Bank‟s Diversity Committee
   Received First Federal Bank Certificate of Merit as an outstanding
    new employee

Writing a Persuasive Résumé, cont.
   Education
       Include your colleges and universities, starting with your
        current or most recent school. Include the following about each
           College name, city, and state
           Dates of attendance (or anticipated date of completion)
           Major fields of study
           Degrees received (or degree working toward)
            Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill, California. 8/09 to present
               Major: Business Administration, specializing in accounting
               AA degree expected 8/11
               GPA: 3.87

Writing a Persuasive Résumé, cont.
   Education, cont.
       Include your GPA only if it‟s impressive
       Don‟t list all the courses you‟ve taken
       Can include certificates, awards, honors
       If you have earned a degree and are returning to school for a
        certificate or secondary degree, continue adding a “Continuing
        Education” section so that your primary degree can be listed
        first in the Education section.
       Don‟t include high school information

Writing a Persuasive Résumé,
   Work Experience
     List your previous jobs, starting with your current or most recent
      position. Include the following about each one:
          Employer‟s name, city, and state
          Dates of employment (month and year); if you‟re still there, make it
          Most important job title
          Significant duties, activities, accomplishments, and promotions
          Examples:

           Sales Associate, IKEA, Emeryville, California. 8/08 to present
           Manager, Fleet Equipment, Kettering, Ohio. 6/07 to 7/08
           Tax Preparer, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
              Program, Sinclair College, Dayton, Ohio,
              March 2006 to April 2007

Writing a Persuasive Résumé,
   Work Experience
       Describe your experience in a bulleted list.
       Write with employer‟s needs in mind.
       Avoid complete sentences and the pronoun I.
       Avoid generalities
       Use action verbs to summarize achievements and skills relevant to your
        targeted job.
         Past jobs: past-tense verbs; Present jobs: present-tense verbs

       Quantify (add numbers to) as many job duties as possible.
       Examples:
         Prepared state and federal tax returns for individuals with incomes
           under $25,000.
         Conducted interviews with over 50 individuals to elicit data
           regarding taxes.
         Determined legitimate tax deductions and recorded them accurately .

Examples of Action Verbs
Accelerated      Enabled       Introduced     Reviewed
Achieved         Encouraged    Managed        Revitalized
Analyzed         Engineered    Organized      Screened
Collaborated     Established   Originated     Served
Conceptualized   Expanded      Overhauled     Spearheaded
Constructed      Expedited     Pioneered      Spurred
Converted        Facilitated   Reduced        Strengthened
Designed         Improved      Resolved       Targeted
Directed         Increased     Restructured   Transformed
Writing a Persuasive Résumé,
   Work Experience
       Include nontechnical skills.
       Give evidence of communication, management, and
        interpersonal skills. Employers want more than empty
        assurances. Try to quantify your skills.
       Examples:
         Organized holiday awards program for 1,200 attendees
           and 140 awardees.
         Received award from top management for enthusiastic
           teamwork and achievement.
         Mastered QuickBooks in 25 hours with little
Writing a Persuasive Résumé,
   Special Skills, Achievements, Awards
       Highlight your computer skills.
          All employers seek employees proficient with word
          processing, databases, spreadsheets, and the Web.
       Bilingual? Show it!
       Show that you are well-rounded.
          List awards, professional organization membership,
          extracurricular activities, and volunteer work,
          especially if they demonstrate leadership,
          teamwork, reliability, loyalty, initiative,
          efficiency, and self-sufficiency.

Writing a Persuasive Résumé,
   Additional Tips
       Omit references (should be on a separate page).
       Look for ways to condense your data. Be concise.
       Use bulleted lists to make it easier to read.
       Double-check lists for parallel phrasing.
       Project professionalism and quality.
         Avoid personal pronouns
         Omit humor
         Use quality paper (white, off-white, pale gray)
          and a quality printer
       Be honest
       Proofread, proofread, proofread
       NEVER send a résumé without a cover letter

Do NOT Include on Your
   Any basis for discrimination
    --religion       --gender
    --race           --age
    --marital status --health/disability
    --children       --national origin
   A photograph
   Social Security Number
   Salary history or requirements
   High school activities
   References (place on separate
   Full addresses or phone numbers
    of employers and colleges
   Reasons for leaving previous
   The word Résumé
Being Honest and Ethical on Your
   Don‟t inflate education, grades, or honors
   Don‟t enhance job titles
   Don‟t puff up your accomplishments
   Don‟t alter employment dates
   Don‟t lie


What Turns Recruiters Off
When Reading a Résumé
   A focus group of nine expert recruiters gave
    these individual responses:
       “Personal data. That‟s a major „red flag.‟ Also
        typos, inconsistent punctuation, and huge
        paragraphs that look like job descriptions.”
       “Odd-sized résumés from services saying
        „Presenting the candidacy of . . .‟ I don't even
        read them anymore. They‟re a major rip-off.”
       “Omissions in terms of dates. And misspellings!”
       “Long cover letters and résumés over two pages.”

What Turns Recruiters Off When
Reading a Résumé, cont.
   A focus group of nine expert recruiters gave
    these individual responses:
       “Excess cosmetics, substituting form for content.
        A résumé should look nice but not go overboard.”
       “A photo. I have to remove them because
        managers must be color and gender blind.”
       “Résumés that show no research; not looking at
        the employer‟s needs.”
       “Not sending the résumé to the right place.”

What Do Recruiters Consider
Most Important on a Résumé?
   “The objective. Plus dates when things
    happened and accomplishments.”
   “Information about skills that apply to the job;
    less about job history and past duties.”
   “Valid information in an easy-to-read,
    attractive style.”
   “The candidate‟s address and phone number.
    Lots of people put them only in the cover
What Do Recruiters Consider Most
Important on a Résumé, cont.?
   “Realizing that the employer is looking for
    „red flags‟ and making sure there aren‟t any.
    If you have an employment gap, include a
    clear statement explaining it.”
   “Meeting the qualifications for the job.”
   “The presentation and the objective.”
   “A clear objective, backed up with qualifying
    experience and continuity in the work
Writing a Persuasive Cover
   Opening
       Address the letter to an individual by name.
       For advertised jobs, name the source;
        include job title, date, and publication.
       If someone referred you, name that person.
       Show that your qualifications fit the job
        specifications, show your knowledge of the
        reader‟s business, or show that your special
        talents will be assets to the company.
       Refer to the company by name. Avoid phrases
        like your firm or your company, which make
        your letter sound generic

Writing a Persuasive Cover
Letter, cont.
   Body
       Demonstrate that your background and training meet the
        job requirements.
       Summarize your principal assets from education,
        experience, and special skills.
       Avoid repeating specific data from your résumé.
       Focus on personal traits that may not show on your
       Tell a success story.
       Refer to your résumé.
       Avoid weak phrases like I think and
        I feel. Sound confident!
       Prove you read the ad!

Writing a Persuasive Cover
Letter, cont.
   Closing
       Ask confidently for an interview. Consider hooking
        the request to a statement reviewing your
        strongest points.
       Make it easy to respond. Tell when and where
        you can be reached (during their office hours).
        Some recruiters prefer that you call them.
       Print on your personal letterhead.

    you aren‟t presenting yourself
 “If
  as a superstar, why are you
  sending the letter?”

                --Penelope Trunk

      The Web and the Job Search

Conducting a Safe and Effective Online
             Job Search

1. Facts about job search technology

2. Sending résumés by e-mail

3. Posting résumés online

4. Cyber Safety: Preventing ID theft
and other concerns
Some Facts About Job Search
   Today many employers (more than 80% according to ask job seekers to send résumés via
    e-mail—it‟s fast and cuts down on paperwork.
   These employers generally enter résumés received
    directly into searchable databases.
   Many employers (including 80% of Fortune 500
    companies) post jobs and encourage applicants to apply
    on their own company Web sites.
   Some available positions are listed only on company
    Web sites.
   Over 400,000 Internet job boards now exist.
   Online job listing scams abound; job seekers must be
Some Facts About Job Search
Technology, cont.
   Employers often complain about the online
    résumés they receive:
       Applicants aren‟t qualified.
       Résumés contain grammar and spelling errors.
       Job seekers send résumés as attachments.
       E-mailed résumés are often poorly formatted.
       E-mailed résumés without cover letters make it
        difficult to determine what positions applicants are
        applying for.
       Job seekers using e-mail often pester employers by
        demanding immediate replies.

What can job applicants do to make sure their
          online résumés stand out?
Sending Résumés by E-Mail
   Follow the instructions in the job listing.
   Use a professional-sounding e-mail address.
       Avoid “fun” addresses such as or
       Don‟t use a work e-mail address.
       Avoid addresses with a year in them, such as Employers can usually figure out the
        applicant‟s age that way.
       Avoid addresses that are difficult to type and remember, such as
       The best e-mail addresses use a form of the sender‟s name,
        such as or
   Attach résumé to an e-mail message only if the employer
    specifically requests it.
   If including résumé in body of e-mail message, prepare it
    in text format, not HTML.
Sending Résumés by E-Mail,
   Include a cover letter with all e-mailed résumés.
       Keep it short (2-3 paragraphs, under 150 words).
       Prepare the critical opening paragraph carefully.
       Include key words.
       Use text format, not HTML.
       Include a salutation and a complimentary close.
       Proofread carefully before sending.
   Include a descriptive subject line.
   Test your message before sending it.
Posting Résumés Online
   Stick to the well-known, reputable job boards:
       QuintCareers Job Board
       Yahoo!
       America‟s Job Bank
   Use local job boards such as
   Don‟t pay a fee to post a résumé.
   Limit the number of places you post your résumé;
    employers dislike “résumé spammers.”
   Post your résumé privately if given the option.
   Renew résumé postings every 14 days.
   If you don‟t get a response in 45 days, remove it from that site and
    post it elsewhere.
   When the job search is over, delete all posted résumés.
Cyber Safety: Preventing Identity
Theft, cont.
   Limit access to your personal contact information;
    include only an e-mail address set up specifically for the
    job search.
   Omit detailed work information.
   Never provide your social security number, credit card
    numbers, or bank account numbers, even if you‟re told
    they‟re needed for a background check.
   Omit references.
   Don‟t provide physical descriptions or a copy of your
    driver‟s license.
   Check company names, addresses,
    and phone numbers for accuracy.
   Avoid general, “blind” ads.
   Keep good records.
           What else can online job applicants do?
A Real-Life ID Theft Scam
   Victim: Jim (U.S. Navy lieutenant, 20 years of
    management experience)
   Site used:
   Position applied for: Marketing Manager
   Company: Arthur Gallagher, a leading
    international insurance broker
What is Digital Dirt?
   Face it, would you want to hire this guy?
   How about one of these women?
Cyber Safety: Additional
   “Digital Dirt”
       The National Association of Colleges and Employers
        (NACE) surveyed 254 employers in services,
        manufacturing, and government-nonprofit sectors
        about their use of social-networking sites (MySpace,
        Facebook, etc.) and Google to check applicants:
           41.2% reported occasional use.
           35.3% reported infrequent use.
           7.4% said it was standard practice.
           7% don‟t now but plan to start.
       According to a vignette from CNN, 43 percent of
        employers run Internet background searches on
        prospective employees by using Internet sites such as
        Google, MySpace and Facebook.
Cyber Safety: Additional
   “Digital Dirt”
     poll (August 2009; polled 2,667 hiring
        managers) found the following:
           Checking references the old-fashioned way is becoming obsolete
           45% of those polled use social networking sites research job candidates
            (up from 22% in 2008)
           35% of employers eliminated candidates based on what they found
           Facebook is the most popular site to search, followed by LinkedIn and
           Employers also read candidate‟s blogs and follow candidates on Twitter

             What implications does this have for you?
Cyber Safety: Additional
   “Digital Dirt”
          Employers‟ Areas of concern (ranked):
            Posting of provocative or inappropriate pictures/information
            Content about drinking or using drugs
            Bad-mouthing previous/current employers, coworkers, or
            Poor communication skills
            Making discriminatory comments
            Misrepresentation of qualifications
            Sharing confidential information from a current/previous
Cyber Safety: Additional
   Looking Professional Online
         Many employers disregard job candidates for the following:
           Having an inappropriate screenname
           Sending a message with an emoticon
           Using text language in an e-mail or job application (“ur” for
            “you are,” GR8 for “great,” etc.)
Cyber Safety: Additional
   “Digital Dirt”: the good news
     poll (August 2009; polled 2, 2667 hiring
        managers) also found the following:
           18% found information on social networking sites that convinced them to
            hire a candidate
           Top factors influencing hiring decision (ranked):
               Profile provided a good feel for the candidate‟s personality and fit with in the
               Profile supported candidate‟s professional qualifications
               Candidate was creative
               Candidate showed solid communication skills
               Candidate was well-rounded
               Other people posted good references about the candidate
               Candidate received awards and accolades
               Having a site with a professional image
               A wide range of interests
       Today more job seekers are taking steps to make their social
        networking sites employer-friendly
                             Have you done this yet?
Digital Dirt – What Employers Are
“Digging” Up
   Some real stories
       University of Illinois graduate
       Duke University student
       Chemical engineering major
       Tien Nguyen, UCLA senior
       Leslie Miller, 22, first day on the job
Cleaning Up “Digital Dirt”
   Steps to clean up “digital dirt” before a job
       Google yourself.
           If you find something near the top of a
            search, contact the site‟s owner to try to
            have it removed.
       Clean up your MySpace or Facebook page.
           Get rid of questionable photos, descriptions,
            backgrounds, music, postings, etc.
       Create digital material about yourself that‟s positive
        and professional.
       Avoid joining groups or engaging in online activities
        that could restrict opportunities
       Be aware of your “cybertwin.”

                          Any other ideas?
Online Sources
   Susan Ireland Electronic Résumé Guide:
   Job Search
   World Privacy Forum:
   Federal Trade Commission National Resource on ID
   Wall Street Journal College Journal:
   Wall Street Journal, Career Journal:
Now, on a lighter note: Some
Bloopers From My Own Students

   On list of references:
    John Doe, 321 Main Street, Pleasant Hell
   In cover letter:
    I‟m inept at problem-solving and
   In cover letter:
    I‟m very good at working with
    the pubic.

“No legacy is so rich as
             --William Shakespeare


To top