This past weekend marked the release of what could be the biggest blockbuster movie of the summer, Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Now, you may not be Michael Bay (if you are Michael Bay, call me, I have an idea for another amazing movie franchise) and you may not make millions of dollars, but there are two things that you can do to transform your writing this week.
A few weeks back I extolled the benefits of reading as they related to improving as a writer. I firmly believe that other than writing itself, reading can be one of the most beneficial practices for those who want to write. Not only does it help you see what works, but it can also drive your creativity. How many times have you been reading a story and been intrigued by a character to the point of thinking “I wonder what would happen to that character if they lived today (or 100 years ago/from now)?” Instead of wondering, use that as a muse, sit down and write that story. Write “Hamlet in High School” or “Harry Potter in Space.” Use the imagination that you have and think of something completely different from the place the character currently lives in.
You can also take a minor character from the story, one that you want to know more about, and write their story. If the book you’re reading is in first person, write a pivotal scene from the perspective of another character. Maybe they remember the action differently or heard slightly different dialog based on their preconceived notions about what was going on.
Use your reading to explore your writing as much as you can.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but in order to change the way you write, you actually need to be sitting down, typing on your computer or putting pen to paper.
You cannot change the way you ride a bike or drive a car by sitting on the couch watching re-runs of M*A*S*H and the same goes for writing. In order to improve your craft, you actually need to do it.
So, as we get into this week, set aside some time to sit down and write. Take your laptop to the library so you won’t be disturbed. Find a story that inspires you and use one of the prompts above to help you get started. The only requirement is to write something, ANYTHING!
Share what works for you in the comments below.
We all know that it is important to put together a solid résumé in order to get a great job, but what exactly should you include on your résumé to get you noticed?
Highlight Your Skills
The number one way to get your résumé noticed by a recruiter or hiring manager is to focus on skills that you bring to the position that other candidates cannot. Be sure that any skills you have that are related to the position are featured at the top of any job history. If the skills are such that you have developed them over the course of your career in a variety of positions, consider setting up a “Skills” section at the beginning of your résumé.
If an employer doesn't know that you posses the skills they are looking for, they will never bring you in for an interview, left alone offer you a job so get those out there where they can see them.
Don’t Include Unnecessary Information
One of the biggest mistakes I see in résumés is that there is too much information. A general rule of thumb is that no résumé should be longer than two pages and if you can find a way to get all the important information on one page, I strongly encourage it. Being able to have one concise page with all the pertinent information in one place can be a huge asset.
By eliminating anything that doesn't apply to the job in question, you naturally bring more attention to what remains. This is the classic rule of addition by subtraction.
Don’t Limit Yourself
Just because you didn't hold a specific job title in a previous position doesn't mean there aren't skills that you can apply to a new one. Look at the example of a teacher. Someone who has been in education for ten years applies for a job as a training manager at a Fortune 500 company. He has never had formal management experience, but as a teacher he has learned to manage the diverse backgrounds of 20-30 students on a daily basis. Additionally, he has experience teaching a variety of subjects and adapting the curriculum to his current set of students.
These are all qualities that directly apply to a training manager position and could make the teacher described above an excellent candidate for the position. He may even get more attention than someone who just has management experience and doesn’t bring any teaching/training background with them.
Spend some time focusing on what you bring specifically to the position at hand and always be sure to tailor your résumé to that position. Remember that one résumé does not fit all.
Last week I wrote about the importance of reading as it related to becoming a better writer. Today I wanted to bring you some thoughts on reading as part of career growth. A few things to consider:
Read About Your Field
This applies for someone who is settled in a job or someone who is just starting out. If you've been in your position for several years, make time to sit down and read something related to what you do so that you can keep up on the current developments in your field.
On the other hand, if you are trying to get a job in a particular field, make sure you are reading about that field before your interview. Take note of the things that are going on and if you find the opportunity, mention them in the interview. This will show the interviewer that you know what’s new in the industry and are care about the position.
Read About the Companies You’re Applying To
This one is critical when looking for a job. Showing the interviewer that you not only have some background about the industry, but that you also have some basic knowledge of the company itself is a huge feather in your cap. The less time they need to spend onboarding you and tell you about the company, the sooner you can get down to the business at hand once you walk in the door.
This applies regardless of where you are in your career. Take a walk down the Self-Improvement/Career/Business aisle at your local library or book store and you will be sure to find something that will help you. From books about leadership to starting a new business, parenting to increasing your productivity, there is something out there for everyone. And if you can’t find what you want to read already in print, a new door may be opening for you…write the book yourself!
Read With Your Ears
This kind of reading for growth doesn't have to be visual. There are thousands of great audio books out there. Check out Audible.com for a huge selection read by some excellent voice talent.
If you’re looking for free audio content, check out iTunes podcast library and simply search for leadership. Just make sure you are taking advantage of your long drive to work or those spare minutes while you’re waiting for your kids to get out of soccer practice.
To help you out a little with determining your next reading assignment, check out the resources below as well as the resources page:
Jonathan Ytreberg is the owner of Best Word Forward, committed to providing the best resume advice and services to clients around the globe.