Writing Skills

10 Tips for New Grads: How to Succeed at Your First Job

communicating first job

by Jody Bruner

Last post we discussed how high impact writing can help land your dream job. Here, we are going to focus in on newly graduated millennials. While an astonishing 87% of new graduates see themselves as prepared to enter the workforce with the skills they gained from their education, hiring managers don’t agree.

A recently released study from PayScale (an on-demand compensation data and software company) and Future Workplace (an executive development firm) shows that 44% of managers feel writing proficiency is the hard skill most lacking among college graduates, and 39% feel presentation skills is the second most lacking.

Communicating on the job is different from the communicating you did at school. You’re not writing or speaking to show your understanding or that you can argue a position in the same way you did while you were in school. Still, once you are working, you’ll find your day is full of communicating: writing emails, having conversations and thinking critically to move projects forward. Mastering these skills is what we teach.

Here’s some advice to pass on to any new grads you know.

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High Impact Writing and Your Job Search

high impact writing job search

by Alan De Back

Over many years as a career coach, I’ve discovered that the most qualified person does not always land the job. You may have great credentials, but your lack of high impact writing skills could eliminate you from consideration.

How you present yourself in writing is critical to making the first cut. Whether writing a resume or editing your LinkedIn profile, a high impact writing style sends a message of energy, enthusiasm, and professionalism.

What are the most important elements of a high impact writing style?

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How to Stay Limber While You Write

Business woman do stretch with laptop in front isolated over white background.by Lesley Nevills

If you find your muscles are tight and sore when you spend hours sitting and writing, try these tips for staying limber and releasing unwanted tension. You’ll be more creative and have an easier time writing when you can relax.

1. Breathe deeply

When we are tense and stressed we often hold our breath or breathe very shallowly. Remember to periodically take a slow deep breath and exhale fully. If I could only share one piece of advice learned from years of teaching and doing yoga, it would be to practice deep breathing.

2. Stand up and move 

Remember to move around at least once every hour. Even if you stand and roll your shoulders a few times, you will help release stress and any built up tension. You can set a reminder on your phone or computer to help you get into the habit.

3. Learn to recognize where you hold your stress

Take a moment to notice any part of your body that may be tense right now. Check your jaw, feet, neck, eyes, forehead, shoulders, back, hips, legs and stomach. Move that part slowly and notice what you feel. Then just let it relax and let that tension go. Keep it relaxed while taking several deep breaths in and out, slowly.

4. Do simple seated stretches

A quick and easy stretch can be very effective to ease muscle tension periodically. You can do a number of great stretches without leaving your desk. You will feel energized and invigorated so you can continue writing.

5. Let your mouth relax

We don’t realize how much tension we hold in our jaw and neck until we consciously relax this area. By softening your mouth, tongue and jaw, you can relieve unconscious tension. Part your lips slightly, swallow and relax your tongue.

6. Release shoulder tension

Here is a technique to try: Take a deep breath in and while you do raise your shoulders up towards your ears. As you exhale rapidly, drop your shoulders down. If you want even more release, make some noise while you do this exercise. Sigh, humph or say ah!

Do you know any other strategies? Please share if you do.

How to Close Your Email Messages

by Jody Bruner

Back in the day of the letter, we were much more formal in our closings. Typically we signed off with Yours truly in formal situations, and Sincerely yours or even Cordially in less formal situations. In business today, while emails sometimes serve the same purpose as a letter, they are less formal and the traditional closes feel too dated and formal.

The close does more than mark the end of your message. It also helps reinforce your purpose in writing and defines the personality of your message—is it a thank you or an apology? Is it casual or formal? Is it personal or business?

You may be tempted to save time by making your complimentary close part of your signature block, but it won’t always match your message and can make you sound insincere. Present a more professional image by thoughtfully matching your close to the message you are writing.

Here are some popular options—the good, the bad and the ugly. Choose the close that suits your situation and your personal style:

Best: Totally safe to use.

Best wishes, Best regards: More formal, but still acceptable.

Regards: A bit bland, but totally acceptable.

Sincerely: Way too formal for an email. Maybe it would work for a cover email for a job application.

Take care: A bit bland but acceptable.

Thanks (or Many thanks): This is also common, and acceptable. Make sure you are actually thanking your reader for something specific.

Thanks in advance: Presumptuous. Avoid this if it is a command masquerading as premature gratitude.

Talk soon: Again, use it if you are going to be talking soon.

Warm regards: Formal and friendly at the same time.

Warmly: Nice. It’s great for emails to someone you’re close to but aren’t in regular touch with.

Your initial: This is very informal. Only use it with people who know you very well.

Your name: This feels cold and abrupt. The initial is warmer, even without the complimentary close.

Do you have a favourite complimentary close that’s not on this list? Please share!