Friday, August 20, 2010

What Everyone Needs To Know About Writing

The future of professional work belongs to those who write well.

Email, Twitter, presentations, advertising, formal reports, technical reports, and memos are just a few of the various places you can expect to need to use your written communication skills.

That begs the questions: how well do you write? Do you practice regularly? Or do you think you do it “well enough”?

In today’s day and age, gurus like Tom Peters yell loudly at us, the workers of today and tomorrow, to get our butts in gear and write, write, write, and write even more! The reason? Poor communication in all forms, most especially the written form, is and will continue to be a SERIOUS strike against professional job candidates applying for jobs.

According to a Report of The National Committee of Writing For America’s Families, Schools and Colleges, 85 % of those professional jobs in finance, real estate, as well as, 80% of the professional jobs in the service sector will require high quality writing skills.

The report claims that America’s biggest area of job growth will be in the service sector (20.5 million jobs expected over the next few years).

That’s a lot of jobs. 80% of those jobs will require you to write well. The National Committees report states that company’s will begin requiring writing samples for consideration. Many of today’s companies require on the spot writing tests.

Again, how strong are your writing skills?

Do you know how to consider the purpose of your writing?

Do you know how to construct an argument? To support your main point?

Do you know how to organize material in an essay, a paragraph?

Do you know how to form a proper sentence?

This is not to make you feel stupid. It is a very true fact that many people graduate university without proper knowledge of how to write a sentence, a paragraph, and especially an essay. Yet these people think they are often entitled to a job.

Strong writing skills almost guarantee long term employment.


Good writers generally equal good thinkers. Good writers are logical, and are usually capable of the kind of rhetorical skills often necessary in professional communication.

Good writers are clear. They make meaning. They make concepts and ideas easy to understand.

Good writers know how to learn. To be able to communicate anything effectively, you must first understand. To write effectively, a greater depth of understanding is often required.

Good writers know how to give. They know how to teach with their essays. They know how to convey the information in a way that answers the readers question: “what’s this got to do with me?”

Good writers know how to grab attention and sell!

Do any or all of these descriptions coincide with your belief about your own ability? Do your beliefs match reality? If not, it’s time to get busy. Procrastinating on improving this skill is not going to help. Only action will.

I recommend all of you think of a general topic you find interesting. Choose something you are passionate about. Choose something you want to know more about. Choose something!

Now make a blog and begin writing different articles about it. Teach yourself different and various ways of writing, while keeping on the same topic. Learn how to write from various angles about your topic. Practice, practice, practice. Being an expert is not required. Being a student who is willing to learn and practice and make an ass out of themselves over the internet is. Do it do it do it.

Practice giving something new to your readers each and every day. Or at least once a week.

Research, write. Research, write. Practice, practice, practice.

Denying the necessity of a high aptitude for writing is unacceptable. Blocking yourself from becoming a hot commodity through the improvement of your writing is unacceptable. Begin today to hold yourself to the goal of steady improvement of your writing skills. The result….only the future knows.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Secret Of Overcoming A Failed Interview

The topic for today’s show comes from cell phone number 7430. The person wrote:
I prepared very much for interview at company. I very wanted
the job, but did not win. Now I am sad. What can I do?
The issue 7430 is describing is the issue of failure to get the job they wanted. The issue is rejection. Not just any kind of rejection, but rejection that comes after having worked very hard to get the job. This is tragic! Terrible. I’
m sorry to hear that.

So today, you
are going to learn how they you rise from the ashes of defeat: how you can overcome the rejection and failure that sometimes happens when searching for a job.
Let me ask you all a question. It’s a personal question. A serious question. Have you ever had a broken heart?

The reason I ask, is that failing to get a job after preparing really much is a lot like failing in love.I’ve heard it said many places that searching for a job, is a lot like dating. You court the company, the company checks you out, yo
u get a feel for each other and decide whether or not to go in the same direction together.

Sometimes one person starts to like the othe
r a lot more than the other likes them. The person buts a lot of effort, but the love is rejected. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it does not. When it does not happen, especially when we REALLY HOPE that it does, it can be just as crushing as rejected love.
So how do we get over it?

We need to do the DART!
The what???

DART is an acronym I created that helps me remember how to overcome failure.
D stands for Do No Harm! AR stands for Ac
cept Reality. And T stands for Take Positive Action.

D--Do No Harm

Don't hurt the company. Don't say bad things about them. You never know, the person they intended to hire might not take the job. The
company may remember you. If you say bad things and they learn of it, they'll think you're pathetic and hire another person.
So, protect your reputation. Say good things. Write them a thank you note thanking them for the opportunity. Tell them that you hope maybe one day in the future you two can work together. ...don't send a note like this to your lover though. Bad idea! ...for many reasons.

Don't Harm Yourself.

This is obvious. Don't take it all so personally. You are still awesome. You are not a permanent failure. Your effort was great! You failed. This is just one small smudge on the giant canvas that is your life. You don't kn
ow the future. This could be a good thing.

Remember the proverb about the man with the son that didn't have to go to war. The father of the son didn't know if it was good or bad. (Do a Google search for more info.)

Don't Harm others.

Don't go home and tell your mom her food is terrible just because you're angry. Don't tell your girlfriend her hair looks terrible. Don't throw your cat out the window. Be nice to people.

Don't make your feelings worse by hu
rting the company, yourself or others!

Next, AR--Accept Reality!

Reality is that the job chance is over. Finished. Gone. Dead. Have a funeral!
Let it go. Delete. Move on! Feel the pa
in, feel the sadness. Have a sit-down, take a 30 minute pity party, but then get up and get going. Don't dwell. Accept what has happened, and then move on!

Because the reality is YOU ARE AWES
OME! You learned so much from this experience. You have now new stories to tell. This job is not the only job in the world. There are better ones probably out there! You can get them.

You never know, this job might have bee
n perfect. It just might have been that the person interviewing you thought you reminded them of their high school bully. People sometimes make illogical choices. HR managers are no different. Who knows the real reason you didn't get the job.

So.....accept reality that it's gone, and that y
ou are great and doing a good job. You can't control everything.

T--Take positive action.

Positive action is so important!!! You can't think your way into right feeling or action. You must act your way into good feelings. You must act act act.
So. Grab a pen. Grab a pad of paper. Go to a coffee shop. Buy a coffee. Have a seat. Write! Analyze what happened!

There are 5 questions that can help you focus and analyze. Answer these questions as best as you can.

1. What happened?

Think about everything you experienced. Write about what happened. Write about the facts. Don't speculate. Don't sit there writing about how fat you are, or how they thought you were stupid. Don't do that. Write the facts. What d
id you talk about? What questions did they ask?

Give details. This helps you get perspective.

2. What did you do wrong?
Now! Very important! Do not write more than 10 things. I mean it. It's easy for people who feel bad to write a million and four things about how bad they are. Don't do it! Again, don't opinionate.

Give yourself a break, but be honest. Facts. What did you honestly do wrong.

You are not the worst person in the world, so don't go to that mind frame. You are not the second worst, third worst or even fourth wors
t. ...if you really want to feel bad, then you can call yourself the fifth worst, but that's it!!! You are not the worst. PERIOD!

10 things! Write.
3. What can you do to improve?
This is to balance the paper between what you did wrong and what can be improved. This helps create better perspective. It changes our minds toward better analyzing the situation.

For example, if you wrote that your posture went wrong, then you can improve this. If you wrote you answered some questions poorly, then you can improve this. Write!
4. What did you do well?
This is a great question. And it takes hard work to write. I want you to write as many things as possible. MAKE THIS LIST HUGE!!! Because the truth is you did a lot of things right. You may not think so, but you did. A) you showed up. B) you prepared. C) You tried. A lot of people don't even do that, so you are already better than 90% of the world!
Make the list silly if need be. Talk about your hair, your fingernails, your shoes.
Talk about whatever that is good that you did. Be ridiculous.
Trust me. Try this and see....writing it will put you in a better mood. Action is the key to changing your feelings and mind. Writing about things you did well during the job preparation and interview will help big!

5. What can you learn and USE from this?

This is so important. What can you take away from the experience? What do you know now that you didn't know before? Probably, you know a huge amount.

If you think about it, you at least now have a failure story you can talk about.

A lot of interviewers ask you to describe a time when you faced failure and how you were able to overcome it. Well, now you have a failure story, and by writing this stuff down, and working through my tips, you have a great recov
ery story.

The truth is there is so much you learned from the process. You can feel good about yourself for having done so much and experienced so m
uch. This process will change you and make you stronger. If you let it.

There is a great quote from Barak Obama. He said it will giving a speech to a high school. He was telling them how they will all be faced with
failure at least sometimes in their lives. He said:
"The real test is not whether you's whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you [choose to] learn from it; whether you choose to persevere."
So that sums up the DART, my acronym for helping me overcome failure. I hope it works for you. Remember that D stands for Do no harm, AR stands for Accept Reality, and T stands for Take positive action.

I hope this helps! Keep up the fight, Job warriors! Good luck to you all, and to you 7430! Until next week! All for now!

Two Questions You Need To Consider Before Beginning Your Job Search

Author and journalist Sydney J. Harris once wrote, “Ninety percent of the world's woe comes from people not knowing themselves, their abilities, their frailties, and even their real virtues. Most of us go almost all the way through life as complete strangers to ourselves.”

Are you a stranger to yourself? Before answering that question, I think it’s wise to answer the question, are you happy in your chosen profession? If you can answer that with either a yes or a no, then you’re off to a good start. At least you know that much. And that much is the beginning of today’s topic.

Many of you are in jobs you hate. Fear, the culprit of culprits, has probably sculpted your path, and directed you into a career that “made sense”, seemed “practical”. Unfortunately, some of you—if you get real and truthful with yourself—know that “sensible & practical” are code words for boring and not our real joy.

Work should not be boring and a disappointing experience. Life is too short. Instead, you need to have the courage to begin searching for the work that will make you honestly happy. Such work is most likely that which you can say provides a real and valuable gift to society. Of course, such can be only tiny in its offering, but generally, if you are doing what you love, the benefits to society will absolutely ripple through.

Even if it’s only your personality that becomes the gift. An unhappy person in work, usually spreads misery in all the places they visit.

So stop spreading the sad! Instead, as you prepare for your job search, consider these two questions:
  1. What do you want?
  2. Who are you?
Sound simple, yes? Sound difficult, yes? You’re right in both regards. These question are both the most simple and most difficult questions to answer. But, unless you’re willing to struggle through and answer them, you’re going to keep making the same choices in your career life.

Of course, making the same choices is okay if you are a) currently happy, or b) love misery. As you’ve most likely heard before, doing the same thing over and over again expecting something different is an idiots tomfoolery. Stop doing that! Answering these question can help.

When you look for a job, most usually consider only jobs they know, then write a resume, and apply. Then wait. Like fishers without a clue of what you are fishing for, or even if there are fish to be caught, you wait. You hope, pray, and wait some more until a compassionate company comes along and grants you a good enough job you need so you can pay bills, etc.

Stop that! Instead, before updating your resume, before digging around for job leads, grab yourself a pad of paper, a few sharp pencils, make your way down to a coffee shop, find a quiet table, sit down and begin to write.

Write a story about your ideal life. Write a story about your past. Write a story about where you thought you’d be going when you were a child. Writing stories like this—don’t worry about grammar or interest to others—will jog your memory. It will provide you a real picture of both who you are and where you really want to be going.

Doing these exercises will put before you pieces of yourself you might have never given time to think about.

I remember a story about a girl who worked for a hospital. She worked there during college to find out if that was what she wanted to do. While working there, she had an assignment similar to the one I describe. After writing it, it became very apparent to her that she was a very willing person, that she was filled with compassion, and that she was eager to learn and develop herself.

That knowledge led her out of her sensible plan to become a nurse, and into a new path of becoming a family psychologist.

The girl in this story often wonders what would have happened had she remained on her original path—which was to become a nurse. She believes she would have liked it, but that it would have been less than her best. Working as a family psychologist is something she’s passionate about.

The point is that from writing her story, she was able to work out parts of herself that helped her guide her on her way.

Of course this is just an example. Still, each of you, if you take time to write your stories, can gain valuable insight into yourself. The insight you gain can help you stop making the same choices in your career. Life is too short, and you deserve to be happy. So before you start considering your next job search, ask and answer for yourself these questions. It might mean a whole new life, and a whole new smile.

Until next time…

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Thought You Can’t Afford To Miss

I’m a Tom Peters junkie. I think his writings, his ideas, his wisdom are some of the most important gifts. We the X & Y & Cyber generations would do well to read and re-read the stuff he has to say.

Most of what he writes these days centers on the delivery of excellence in everything we do. I am only guessing at his primary assumption, but it seems he feels that quality and excellence in business, service and life have generally declined over the past years.

His generation, I’d like to say, may have started it. BUT SO WHAT??? His generation, and those of the generation above him have a work ethic that we, the XYC’s, really need to look at and begin mimicking. At least, the good parts. Namely, we need to mimic their commitment to excellence.

My grandfathers generation kicked ass when it came to work. Yes people sucked at work back then too, but for the most part, I believe that the work ethic of those folks, the commitment to delivering value, creating value far exceeds our own.

Some may say with whiny pouty faces, but they didn’t teach us. It’s their fault. Bullshiznitz! It’s nobody’s fault. Life happens. And we are the ones who need to adjust. We need to drop the whiny pouty faces, and learn the art of joyful giving. We need to drop the greed, drop the hyper-super-me-ism and get to work putting the world back together. We need to stop the griping, and start creating something that a machine can’t guarantee…high quality, high value, high excellence in everything we do!

Why? Because if we keep grubbing for money, keep doing only for me me me….things are going to fall down. America is going to fall down. …further.

We need to start looking at what truly makes us a hot commodity. It’s our hearts! Our hearts and the choices we make. It’s the commitment to character. Choices for the betterment of our character. Choices that help everyone! Not just help the bottom line! Trust the natural laws of life, people. Make choices in line with them.

I’m getting off track.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on some of the thoughts of Tom Peters from his newest book LITTLE BIG THINGS! Buy it! It’s awesome.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Q & A

For the past six months, I’ve had the honor of speaking to over two million Korean listeners each and every Wednesday morning on EBS FM. The opportunity has started in me a passion for career advice, personal branding, and persuasive storytelling. Though the show will be cut from it’s roster this next term, I will continue to write tips and advice for job hunters and for those interested in how to make for themselves a great career. Please continue to view my weekly posts.

For this weeks show, I decided to answer a few of the various questions I received over the past six months at my email address

A change of pace is good, so instead of focusing on just one area for today’s article, I’ll try and answer a few questions.

The first question was one I received a short while ago. Jong-Sub wrote me the question:
"I'm a university student. What advice do you recommend I take to become a good leader?"
Thanks for the question, Jong-sub. It’s a great question! It’s awesome that you are interested in this aspect of your future.

The first thing I’d recommend is that you take a look around yourself. I assume you’re in university, which means that you are involved in a club, involved in your classroom activities. These are great places to develop leadership. What are you doing to take on more responsibility in these areas? To me the best kinds of leaders are those that know how to serve the needs of the group they are a part of.

To me there are many kinds of leadership. So, take a look at your leadership style. As well, read tonnes of books on leadership. If you are not finding what you need at school, reach out and get involved in various clubs around town. I am a big fan of Toastmasters. It’s a communication & leadership club that teaches people leadership skills. It is an amazing opportunity!

As well, I’m sure there are youth leadership groups around Seoul, and in other cities. Check the internet, find out what’s available, and put yourself out there. Learn to serve, and from that learn to lead.

Keep searching, Jong-Sub. With questions like that, you are off to a great start!

The next question comes from a person with the cell number 6771. 6771 said,
“I'd like to start my career at an international NGO to do voluntary work. Do you think my priority is to improve my English?”
Again, another awesome question.

I’d have to say a big gigantic YES! I’m certainly not an expert in how NGO’s work in various countries, but I’d say that English would be vital in your ability to work with other volunteers, or to work with people in the country you’re going to work in. A quick Google search for NGO volunteering opportunities shows roughly 700,000 different links. I kept clicking on different links for about 10 minutes. All of them were in English. Now, I’m not sure how to look in Korean, so I cannot compare…but it seems fairly apparent that a large amount of opportunities are available for people if they speak English. In all, it really depends on where you want to go. Do you want to stay in Korea, and then probably you don’t need English as much. If you want to go work in Africa, or India or the Philippines, then English most certainly seems helpful.

A person named Min wrote me and said,
“An international company I’m applying to wants personal references. Who do I ask, and what should they say?”
This was quite surprising to me. I assumed that references were a part of the Korean job search process. Apparently they are not.

The reference finding process can be quite elaborate. Briefly, I’ll say that the first thing you want to know about finding good references, is that you do not use family members or friends. You’re going to want to select people who have actual knowledge of your ability to deliver the duties of a job. You want people who can provide actual proof of your work and your ability and your accomplishments, and your attitude.

You should ask your former bosses from part time work, or your former professors, or former people who’ve you’ve volunteered with, done an internship with, church leaders, etc.

Of course, I’m not sure if your references need to be written in English or not, but if they do, then hopefully you’ve got someone who can write a good letter.

Since it may not be a big practice here in Korea, I really recommend you go online and look at some samples of reference letters. Maybe take that into the people who you have asked to write your letters, and guide them to do something similar.

An important point to remember about these, is that if your getting someone to write a letter for you, I really don’t think it should be completely perfect. It shouldn’t say only your strong points. If there are not weaknesses, I think that sends a suspicious message. Keep that in mind. After all, no one is perfect….so we shouldn’t pretend to be.

Of course, be sure to select someone who’ll say good things about you?

What should they talk about? Well, as I said…accomplishments. Primarily, they should talk about things that pertain to the job your applying for. If you are applying for a sales position, maybe they can talk about your persuasive skills, your interpersonal skills, your communication skills. Maybe they can talk about your ability to learn quickly, work hard, etc.

Great question. Good luck.

The next question comes from Kim. He writes:
“I am a guy 32years old. i am running my own business but I hope to work at a company but I guess because of my age, I almost give up applying for any company. Pls give me any advice.”
Wow! Great question! From my perspective, Kim. You’re not too old at all! I really wish I knew more about your situation. What kind of business, how long you’ve been in it. I think entrepreneurship is a powerful training ground for success. I think about all the skills and knowledge a person gains from running their own business. You’ve got sales skills, management skills, logistic knowledge, marketing knowledge, leadership, self-motivation, and a whole lot of other skills.

Presumably, your company is still running. That means you have the ability to keep a company solvent. That means you are a smart business person. You also understand the value of customer service.

To me, you’re a great person for a job. I’d hire you. I am a big fan of the entrepreneurial spirit. I think more people should do it.

The question I think you should ask yourself is “do you really want to work for someone else?” I think once you get a taste for self-employment, that degree of freedom is hard to give up. But, working for someone can be a great benefit too. There is much less personal stress, I’m sure!

If you are interested in trying to work for a company, I’d look at selling my skills in terms of helping a company grow. Some people might be concerned you’re just getting into a company so you can relax and not work so hard. Assuming that is not your motive, you should absolutely maintain that entrepreneurial attitude, and go into a company interview with a sincere desire to make that company grow and get rich.

You may need to start at a lower position than you think is fair, but…that’s okay. With your skill and age and ability, I think you’ll advance rather quickly. But that’s just me assuming.

No matter what…don’t let fear hold you back. Go get your dream, Kim. That goes for all today’s listeners.

All for today.

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