Posts Tagged ‘New Years Resolutions’

Being Brave: The Essay Expert’s New Year’s Ressaylutions

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Every year in January, I make New Year’s Resolutions and report them to you, my 1800 or so readers.

For anyone who’s serious about resolutions, making them is brave. First of all, we need to do some honest assessment of what’s working and not working in our lives and businesses. We need to consider where we want to head in the next year. Serious resolutions mean the year is going to be a challenge. Of course many of us make our resolutions and then promptly forget about them or give up on them. They are not real to us. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

Making New Year’s Resolutions publicly holds me accountable! As some of you know, I report both my wins and my fails for the year in August and January. This transparency helps me get a lot of things done (though not everything I promise, as you will see below) and encourages me to continually assess and reassess my goals and progress. Here’s what happened in 2013:

My 2013 “Ressaylutions” and results were as follows:

  1. Publish a Spanish-language version of How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile.
    Not done. After full consideration of the possibility, I decided it would be untenable to keep up with all the updates of content and images in a foreign-language version of the book as well as an English-language version! Project tabled indefinitely.
  2. Publish a 50 Resume Tips book.
    DONE! In fact, I published two: How to Write a WINNING Resume and How to Write a STELLAR Executive Resume. They have been selling fairly well on Amazon – and many resume writers and clients have told me they are very helpful. I have one job seeker who updated her resume based on the book and promptly got a job!
  3. Obtain my CMRW (Certified Master Resume Writer Certification, offered by CDI).
    DONE!
  4. Increase the college essay / personal statement portion of my business to 25% of total business.
    I’m still at 10%. However, realizing that I was not going to make this goal, I have already put some things into place for 2014, and I will be focusing even more on building this aspect of my business.
  5. Start a training for resume writers.
    This one got put on the back burner as I completed my e-books. Tabled for now but might come up again in 2014.

Ressaylutions for 2014:

  1. Increase college essay / personal statement portion of my business to 25% of business (carried over from last year for a second go).
    Some steps already taken in the right direction: Speaking at the NRWA Conference in Denver about how to write a standout college essay. Getting interviews for a widely circulated newspaper talking about college essays (publication still pending). And advertising a new summer program for rising high school seniors to work on their writing skills and personal statement topics (Let me know if you have a student who would like to participate).
  2. Roll out a new “responsive” (mobile-friendly) website.
    I have already hired web designers and they are hard at work!
  3. Choose a CRM and project management system.
    The Essay Expert and my assistant Jeanne Goodman do entirely too much record-keeping by hand. I will be investigating CRM and project management systems this year to determine whether there is one that will make our lives easier over here at The Essay Expert!
  4. Serve 250 clients.
    This year The Essay Expert worked with 200 clients to find new jobs, get into school, and achieve business results. I’m aiming to increase that number by 25%!
  5. Generate 214 success stories.
    I haven’t given up on collecting 200+ client success stories. This year we reached 122 (up from 109 in 2012). I’m planning to increase client numbers next year (see #4) so there will be a better chance of increasing the number of success stories. Please share yours if you haven’t already!

What are your New Year’s Resolutions and how will you hold yourself accountable? Please share!

Top 10 Grammatical and Spelling Errors of 2013

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It’s that time of year again! This year I will address some of the top grammatical and spelling errors specifically found on resumes Top Ten Grammatical Errors 2013and business documents, both of which constitute a large portion of what I read. Here’s the list:

#10 - Inconsistencies in Bulleted Lists
If you make a list of bulleted items, whether it be on a resume or on a website, make them consistent in terms of the part of speech you start with. Bullets that start with the words Provide, Assess, Ensure, and Designing are not parallel; nor are bullets that start with Creates, Teaches, Organized, and Fulfills. Perhaps the inconsistent word jumps off the page when listed this way, but I see mismatched bullets in many types of documents every day. Check your bulleted lists carefully!

#9 – Manager/Manger
According to Wikipedia, a “manger” is “a feeder that is made of carved stone, wood, or metal construction and is used to hold food for animals (as in a stable).” A “manager,” in contrast, is a person in a professional setting who supervises a person or team. Don’t mix them up on your resume, or in your Christmas greetings ;-).

#8 – Principal/Principle
“Principal” is an adjective meaning first, highest, or foremost in importance, rank, worth, or degree; or of, relating to, or being financial principal, or a principal in a financial transaction. It can also be a noun meaning a person with a leading role, or one who holds a position of presiding rank or who is a main participant in a situation. “Principle,” in contrast, is a basic truth, tenet or assumption. I realize this spelling distinction can be hard to remember. One trick I use to keep them straight is to think, “You’re my #1 pal” and know that the word ending in “pal” relates to someone or something that is #1.

#7 – PowerPoint/Powerpoint
It’s a common error to miss the capital P in the middle of PowerPoint. Be careful when listing any computer programs on your resume to spell them correctly!

#6 – Set up/Setup
“Set up” is a verb meaning to set something up or put something in a specified state. Notice that there is a word in between “set” and “up” in the definition of “set up,” which you can think of as being substituted with a space. You must set *something* (_) up. “Setup,” however, is a noun meaning the process of preparing something to be used. You might set up the menus in a restaurant if you work there, but you would go to a setup menu to get a computer program ready for use.

#5 – Inconsistent Dashes
If you use dashes in between start and end dates on your resume, or between any items in a document, use the same length dash for every similar set of text! I almost always see inconsistencies, especially on resumes, and they appear unprofessional. Don’t write June 2011-July 2013 in one spot and August 2010—June 2011 in another.

#4 – Apostrophes
This issue makes the list for the third year in a row. Main point: Creating a plural doesn’t require an apostrophe. One client, two clients. To make a singular word possessive, add an apostrophe ‘s’: e.g., I wrote one client’s resume today. To make a plural word possessive, add an apostrophe after the ‘s’: e.g., I reviewed 5 clients’ records and discovered errors in 3 of them. See Top 7 Grammatical and Spelling Errors of 2012 and Top 10 Grammatical and Spelling Errors of 2011 for more on this topic.

#3 – Everyday/Every day
This is a repeat topic as well. Everyday is an adjective meaning “common” or “day-to-day.” Every day means “daily” or “each and every day.” Want to learn a trick to remember which is which? See Common Grammatical Errors: Everyday vs. Every Day.

#2 – Lead/Led
The absolute most common spelling error on resumes is the use of “lead,” meant to be the past tense of “lead.” The past tense of the verb “to lead” is “led”! I would love to see this error disappear from the resume writing world.

#1 – Two spaces after a period!
Sure there are people who still argue that two spaces after a period is acceptable, but I have been fully converted! I have trained my fingers and my eyes to put one space after each period, and I’m attempting to train my clients to “get with the program” as well. If it’s good enough for the Chicago Manual of Style, it’s good enough for me!

Have a happy, healthy, and grammatically correct new year. And remember, I’m always open to hearing your suggestions for my 2014 list!

Checking in on New Year’s Resolutions… How Are Yours Going?

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If you didn’t write down your New Year’s Resolutions in January, or even if you did, you may have completely forgotten about them by now. I know that left to my own devices, I would be completely unreliable with regard to checking back on my promises from January. Thankfully, I have a blog and newsletter—with an audience—to keep me accountable!

As I look back at my resolutions for my business in 2013, I realize I have succeeded in fulfilling 2 out of 6 of them. Yikes! Let’s look at the hard facts:

1. Publish a Spanish-language version of How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile.

I engaged a consultant to look into the possibility of finding someone who wanted foreign rights to my e-book; no one was interested. This meant that if I were to publish a Spanish version of my book, I would have to do it myself. After considering the realities of the costs and effort involved in revising the book in Spanish as well as in English each time LinkedIn changes something in its platform, I determined that this project would not be a good use of time and resources. I did put a lot of thought into this decision however!How to Write a STELLAR Executive Resume

2. Publish a 50 Resume Tips book

I’m pleased to announce that I will be publishing not one but TWO e-books on resumes within the next month: How to Write a WINNING Resume: 50 Tips to Reach Your Job Search Target and How to Write a STELLAR Executive Resume: 50 Tips to Reach Your Job Search Target. Watch my newsletter for the official announcement about when the books will be available on Amazon!

3. Obtain a Master Resume Writer certification (CMRW) from Career Directors International.

DONE as of March 2013!

4. Increase the college essay / personal statement portion of my business to 25% of total business.

I have not found the key to increasing the number of personal statement clients I work with in a year. Admissions season is about to start, so I can’t be sure of the numbers for the year, but as of today admissions consulting represents less than 10% of The Essay Expert’s business (last year was a little more than 10%). If you have ideas of how to change that, please let me know—and please send clients if you know anyone in need of personal statement coaching!

5. Start a training for resume writers.

This project never quite got off the ground. I was focused on publishing the resume writing e-books and will revisit the resume writer training once the books gain some traction. My vision is to use the books as a syllabus for training. If you know anyone who would be interested in being trained by me as a resume writer, please have them contact me at BrendaB@TheEssayExpert.com. Thank you!

6. Create 213 success stories!

As of this writing my list is not completely updated, but I have about 50 success stories to report. I’m definitely behind on this goal. Part of the challenge is that many people do not keep me as updated as I would like about their job search successes! If you’re reading this and you have received an interview or job after hiring The Essay Expert or following my advice, please report to me at BrendaB@TheEssayExpert.com. Thank you!

That’s my report. How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? If there’s any way I can support you please let me know!

What’s coming in 2013: The Essay Expert’s New Year’s Ressaylutions

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The Essay Expert’s New Year’s Ressaylutions for 2013New Years Resolutions 2013

Making New Year’s resolutions can be a great way to get things done. As you may have read in my August blog, New Year’s Resolutions in August , I completed my 2012 list of 6 resolutions even faster than expected:

  1. The Essay Expert’s website was updated (I still have an overhaul on my wish list).
  2. Processes for keeping in touch with clients have been streamlined with autoresponders and e-lists.
  3. We conducted our promised survey regarding The Essay Expert’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
  4. How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn® Profile was published on Kindle and is now coming up on its 5th edition.
  5. I haven’t missed a week in sending out either a blog article or a newsletter. Phew!!
  6. The one area where I didn’t completely meet my goal was in producing 212 success stories. We did have 114 successes reported though!

Here’s what I’m creating for 2013:

1. Publish a Spanish-language version of How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn® Profile.

I have a meeting with some translators from a translators’ cooperative here in Madison next week and am excited to get this project on the road!

2. Publish a 50 Resume Tips book

The book is currently under construction. There will be one version for job seekers and one version for resume writers.

3. Obtain a Master Resume Writer certification (CMRW) from Career Directors International.

There are only 19 CMRWs in the US and a total of 27 worldwide.

4. Increase the college essay / personal statement portion of my business to 25% of total business.

I love working with college and graduate school applicants on their admissions essays, and the name of my company is, after all, The Essay Expert. You can help by sending people you know in our direction!

5. Start a training for resume writers.

I see this training as a way to up my game and also to train writers who can be on The Essay Expert’s team!

6. Create 213 success stories!

If you have a story you haven’t yet shared please do! As The Essay Expert grows, so will the number of people who get interviews, job offers and offers of admission using resumes and essays crafted with the support of our writers.

I look forward to sharing my successes and challenges with you over the next year. What are you creating for 2013?

The Essay Expert’s New Year’s “Ressaylutions”– Completing 2011 and Creating 2012

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Last year at about this time, I wrote a list of six New Year’s Ressaylutions for 2011.

Do you ever go back to your list from last year and check on whether you followed through on your resolutions, or whether you forgot about them the moment you put your pen down?

I realized that with all my talk about New Year’s resolutions, I hadn’t gone back to check last year’s list.  I got brave and dug it up this week; the following is a report on how I did at keeping my promises!  I also make new resolutions for 2012.

2011 Ressaylutions                      

1.  Convert my website to WordPress.

DONE!  Not only is my site fully converted to WordPress, but I also have a funky cool new slider on my home page. I also created many new forms and downloadable documents that make it easier for clients to submit information and get the materials they need.

2.  Make it easier for my readers to choose the topic they want to read about.

DONE!  I now have six separate e-lists:

a) Job Search (Resumes & Cover Letters)

b) College Admissions

c) LinkedIn & Professional Writing

d) Grammar Tips

e) Newsletter only

e) Everything.

Choose the one that’s “write” for you!

3.  Create autoresponders.

DONE!  And there is still so much more to do.  See Ressaylution #3.

4.  Guest blog.

DONE!  My articles have appeared on CareerCast.com, Careerealism.com, CareerCenterToolbox.com and ilostmyjob.com, and I was quoted in Forbes.  Recently I wrote two articles for an American Bar Association publication about resumes and personal statements for applying to law school which will be published this summer.

5.  Start an Artist’s Way group.

NOT DONE.  This one took a back seat to the business.  But I DID write my morning pages every day for three months like I said I would.  And I told everyone I was leading something, which made me act like a leader.  Perhaps that’s what inspired my article, Top 10 Ways to Be a Leader.  I’m content that this item did not come to fruition.

6.  Continue to write and share about writing issues, job search issues, and sometimes life issues that strike my fancy each week and that my readers care about.

DONE.  I faithfully published either a blog article or a newsletter EVERY week in 2011, without fail.  Now THAT’s something to celebrate!

Here are The Essay Expert’s Ressaylutions for 2012:

1.  Create a new template for my website that brings me more into the technology of 2012.

Despite my successful WordPress conversion, there’s much work still to be done before I have the ability to edit my pages without “breaking” the existing code.  Look out for a new, more user-friendly interface in 2012 too!

2.  Create new e-lists for past clients, and survey past clients.

I want to follow up better with The Essay Expert’s past clients and find out how they are faring with the documents we helped them prepare.  Did they get jobs?  Did they get into school?  Do they need more assistance?  My hope is that better e-lists will allow me to start providing concrete numbers about the results of the work that we do.  In service of this goal (as well as Ressaylution #3), I will be hiring a virtual assistant (VA)!  No more interns – The Essay Expert is getting down to business.

3.  Revise autoresponders from 2011.

Right now most of my autoresponders are set up as summaries of my articles with links to the full article. It turns out that people don’t like to have to click on a link to read a full article!  So I will be putting complete articles into my autoresponders for your reading convenience and pleasure.  Thank you to my future VA for helping to make this happen!

4.  Publish my e-book on Kindle

This one is in the works.  It will have a cool new cover and a clickable index for easy reference.  Let’s make it a best-seller!

5.  Report on and count success stories in 2012.

My goal is to report 212 success stories in 2012.  My resolution is to keep doing great work and to keep marketing The Essay Expert’s offerings so we can create 212 positive results for job seekers, school applicants and businesses in the next year.  See 212 Success Stories for 2012.

6.  Continue to write and share about writing issues, job search issues, and sometimes life issues that strike my fancy each week and that my readers care about.

No change here.  I’ll see you every week in 2012.

How did you do on your New Year’s resolutions from 2011?  Do you dare to find out?

Is “Trying” lying? And are you truly committed to your New Year’s resolutions?

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A good friend of mine recently sent me his New Year’s resolutions:New Years Resolutions

#1 -  Be here now.

#2 -  Keep it real.

#3 -  Try to answer e-mail promptly.

I was taken aback by #3.  First, it was the only one that required specific action, and I wondered why he would choose returning e-mails above all the other important actions to take in this world, and over a more general commitment to “Keep in close and regular contact with people important to me” or “Take action quickly on items of importance.”

Even more than that, however, I was struck by the insertion of the word “Try.”

Is Trying Lying?

I have spent the last 10 years or so reducing the incidence of the word “try” in my spoken and written communications.  In a women’s empowerment program I was taught, “Trying is lying.” In a completely different seminar, the instructor had someone hold a tissue box in the air and said, “Try to drop the tissue box.” The person dropped the tissue box, and was met with, “No, you just dropped the tissue box. I told you to try to drop the tissue box.”  In another seminar, a different instructor did the same exercise, asking a participant to “Try to pick up that chair.”  Trying to pick it up looked like holding on to the chair and pretending to pick it up but not actually doing it.

“Trying” to do something, as illustrated in these examples, is as good as not doing the thing at all.  You’re not doing it, and you’re not not doing it.  Trying leaves you in an in-between place that, in my understanding, is ultimately powerless and ineffective.

Excuses, Excuses

We as human beings often use trying as an excuse.  Have you gotten that project done?  “No… but I tried!  I just kept getting distracted.”  Have you lost the weight you said you would?  “No…  but I tried.”  Why isn’t your relationship going the way you want it to?  “I don’t know…  I’m trying so hard to make it work.”  We say things like “I’ll try to be there on time” so that if we’re not on time we haven’t broken a promise.  We human beings are so sneaky!

Ultimately, a choice is required.  Either you do it or you don’t.  If you don’t do it, I believe the most powerful stance is to take responsibility that you didn’t do it.  If you’re still committed to a result, then do something else that works to get that result.  As another wise person pointed out, the way to attain any goal in life is to keep taking action until you achieve it.  Sounds so simple doesn’t it?

Compassion is Key

My New Year’s resolution friend disagreed with my take on trying.  He wrote, “I affirm the importance of stating, ‘I will try.’  It’s like saying, ‘I intend….’  It sends a message — to myself and others — about how I am organizing my spiritual energies.”  When I asked why he didn’t write “Try” for his other resolutions, he responded, “… It’s the only one of the three that doesn’t come to me naturally.  So I must try harder.  :-)”  (He also mentioned that if following #3 were to contradict #1 and/or #2, he would choose not to follow #3.  We have all seen the negative consequences of impulsive or compulsive e-mailing!)

I understand the value of compassion, and I understand that we sometimes go through stages in our level of commitment to a goal.  Perhaps a gentle entry (like a promise to “try”) can be useful for taking on promises we don’t know if we will keep.  Certainly, if we don’t meet one of our promises, it doesn’t help to beat ourselves up about it.  Using the word “try” lets us succeed even when we fail.  But can’t we have compassion even if we frame our promises as absolute?  If I resolve to “answer e-mail promptly” instead of to “try” to do so, and then I don’t answer promptly, I might be empowered by acknowledging that I didn’t do it, looking at why I didn’t do it, and, if appropriate, making a new promise or doing it a different way next time.  To me, that’s “keeping it real.”

Honesty — The Best Policy

New Year’s resolutions are notoriously not kept, and I wonder if the reason is that people put a silent, implied “Try” before every one of them.  If we truly resolve to do something, rather than to try to do it, we live a more powerful life and one where results will show up with more reliability.

At least my friend put “try” where it could be seen, instead of pretending something was true that was not.  A straightforward acknowledgement of one’s tendency toward fallibility might be more powerful than having “trying” live in the unsaid.  At least with an honest promise, there’s room to grow.  In the end, we must each choose the language and intention that work for us, in service of living up to our greatest promises and resolutions.

Thanksgiving, Variety and the 6 Human Needs

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Turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie AND whipped cream. The essential elements to the perfect Thanksgiving meal. We all know that one of the best things about Thanksgiving dinner is the sheer variety of the spread.Thanksgiving Variety and 6 Human Needs

This Thanksgiving I found myself thankful for the variety that is present in my life—and for a richness that extends beyond the Thanksgiving table.

Variety is identified by Anthony Robbins as one of the Six Human Needs. I have been aware for a long time that variety is important to me—and have even found that I crave monotony from time to time to break up the variety! The need for participating in diverse activities has been at the source of my business model: I have created a job for myself where a mix of projects shows up daily.

For instance, in one single day this week, here were just a few tasks I tackled:

  1. Spent two hours on the phone with the GM (General Manager) of an international manufacturing company in China, perfecting his resume and learning about factories in China.
  2. Edited the homepage for The Wisdomkeeper Connection LLC (I pulled out my women’s spiritual training for this one!)
  3. Edited a research report on barriers to career advancement for women and people of color and how those barriers can be overcome through effective networking (yes I took women’s studies in college!).
  4. Provided material to the author of Social Networking Job Search for Dummies, Joshua Waldman, for use in a coupon book he will be distributing on his book tour.
  5. Stuffed 187 holiday letters to past clients (ah…  a repetitive task).
  6. Spoke with two new resume writers who will be joining The Essay Expert team.

Yes, I have a LOT of variety in my work. As far as I’m concerned, the more different types of projects I can work on the better.  While this inclination makes it hard to target a niche market, it seems to work for me.

Variety is a close sibling to richness, and I appreciate that my life is rich as well as varied. Spending time with family over the holidays was a wonderful way to learn about where I came from and to enjoy the next generation for who they are (and are becoming). I am thankful that I can take my work with me so that I never have to worry about missing business-related messages as I celebrate the holidays.Flowers and sun

With computer and cell phone in tow, I can go almost anywhere any time—and never run out of vacation days! This capability opens up many opportunities for a rich and fulfilling life, whether it’s attending workshops, spending time with family, or just exploring a new locale.

In January I will be traveling to New York for a week to support my mom who is having elective surgery. That trip will add to the variety and richness in my life, as well as meet four more of the 6 Human Needs: Significance, Connection/Love, Growth and Contribution.

Who could ask for anything more?

——–

I’d love to hear how you generate variety and richness in your life. What are you creating as the New Year approaches?  Please share below!

6 New Year’s “Ressaylutions” for 2011 from The Essay Expert

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The Essay Expert’s Top 10 Grammar and Spelling Errors of 2010 was such a hit I’ve decided to continue on the New Year’s theme.  What are The Essay Expert’s New Year’s Resolutions (Ressaylutions?)  They range from improvements to my communications with you, my readers, to new ventures in my creative life.

6 New Year’s Ressaylutions for The Essay Expert:  2011 New Years Resolution

1.       Convert my website to WordPress. From everything I read, WordPress is the way to go for ease of use and search engine optimization (SEO).  I found a company in India that is working on this project for me as I type.  I’m excited to make my own website changes instead of always depending on a designer.

2.       Make it easier for my readers to choose the topic they want to read about. This means having 4 separate e-lists:  a) Job Search (Resumes & Cover Letters); b) College Admissions; c) LinkedIn & Professional Writing; and d) Everything; e) Current Blog & Newsletter only.  Within the next 3 months I plan to give subscribers a chance to choose their topic(s) so they won’t get emails about issues that may not interest them.

3.       Create autoresponders. This project is related to ressaylution #2.  Once someone signs up for a particular list, he or she will receive a weekly email with relevant information.  Some of that information will be my older articles on the subscriber’s chosen topic.  This way new subscribers won’t miss out on the great articles I wrote in the past!

4.       Guest blog. I wrote for other people’s blogs quite a bit when I first started my business, and it has been a while since that has happened.  I look forward to creating alliances with some other bloggers and exchanging our wisdom!

5.       Start an Artist’s Way group. I will be stirring up more creative energy in my life and in the world by leading an Artist’s Way group.  Whether this group will be virtual/remote or in-person or both has not been determined.  The Artist’s Way is a 12-week program that unblocks creativity through writing daily “morning pages,” going on weekly “artist’s dates,” and doing other prescribed exercises.  I’ve already started morning pages (2 days down, a lifetime to go!) and took my inner artist on a chilly walk tonight.  If you’re interested in participating in a group, please contact me at BrendaB@TheEssayExpert.com or 608-467-0067.

6.       Continue to write and share about writing issues, job search issues, and sometimes life issues that strike my fancy each week and that my readers care about.  Expect some short articles from time to time that simply share an example of a writing issue I’ve seen that week.  I believe real life examples are the best way to teach since they represent the challenges many of you are dealing with every day (that’s not “everyday”)!

What are some of your resolutions for 2011?  And/or what would you like to see from The Essay Expert in the coming year?  I look forward to your comments.