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Every week I’ll highlight a word that catches my attention. As a marketing and communications professional, I stress simple, straightforward language in my work, however I’m always watching for the evolving lexicon of the market. For growing vocabulary, I recommend these sites: FreeRice.com, UrbanDictionary.com, InvestorWords.com, BusinessDictionary.com, Merriam-Webster Online]

 

The word for this week is — Gravitas. This is a great word made popular recently because it was it was uttered by Amy Poehler on the season finale of Saturday Night Live during the Weekend Update segment when Poehler and Seth Meyers were lambasting Arizona State University for declining to grant President Obama an honorary degree in conjunction with his commencement address there: “…honorary degrees carry all the gravitas of a ‘#1 Dad’ coffee mug.”

 

Listed in Wikipedia as one of several virtues that Roman men were expected to possess, gravitas means “sense of the importance of the matter at hand, responsibility and earnestness.”   Or in Houston its a restaurant known for its American Bistro Style cuisine.  Or a real estate marketing firm in South Florida focused on urban residential developments.  Or a professional competition video gaming team in California.

 

The authentic use of the English language, especially words still close to their etymological roots, is increasingly being lost as schools dumb down their curricula to accommodate the Twitter/text messaging attention spans of students at all levels.  Even the unrelated use of the word to label businesses and affinity groups undermines the lifetime value of the word.  I’m sure similar statements have been uttered by writers in every generation for hundreds of years.

 

Two of the most valuable classess I ever took in high school were Latin I and II from Mr. Kimball.  He also taught German.  Actually, it’s a miracle I got that option considering my grades 9-12 took place at Morton High School in a small farm town of 12,000 outside Peoria, IL.  I took the classes because I wanted to improve my fundamental knowledge of English in order to be a better writer and speller.

 

Considering what passes for communication and language these days, if it takes a late-night comedy skit to send new generationals to their online dictionaries, I’m good with that.

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G.L. Hoffman, a serial entrepreneur and venture investor / operator / incubator / mentor and chairman of JobDig.com Tweeted today about a post on his blog “What Would Dad Say” that originally was published on Dec. 30, 2008 entitled “The Six Word Resume Contest, It’s a Meme.”  In it he challenges readers to “post your favorite six word resume ideas to your blog.”  At the moment, my favorite six word resume idea is about  me:

Organization in Transition Aspiring Greatness: Leader

UPDATE: Click here to learn how to find your next job instead of waiting for your next job to find you.

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UPDATE: Click here to learn how to find your next job instead of waiting for it to find you.

 

This is the third post of a three-part series offering concrete, actionable ideas for how to separate yourself from the pack in today’s feverishly-competitive job market.

 

In Part I, I shared the Sales Cover Letter (“Your Resume Won’t Get You a Job”) as an approach for making your resume stand out and get you the face-to-face interview.  In Part II, I proposed the Interview Binder (“You Can Have Them at ‘Hello’”), a tool for optimal pre-interview preparation and creating a leadership impression with the interviewer(s) before the first question.

 

Part III:  Ask yourself this — Will the people interviewing you remember you after you’ve left the room? What will they remember? How can you be sure?

 

“Numerous psychological studies have shown that human beings are not very good at identifying people they saw only once for a relatively short period of time. The studies reveal error rates of as high as fifty percent,” wrote Michael C. Dorf, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at Columbia University, in a 2001 article “How Reliable is Eyewitness Testimony” published on FindLaw.com.  Fifty percent.

 

My solution – leave a big piece of you behind to speak for you. 

 

I’m talking about a Capabilities eBrochure, a leave-behind collateral piece that is all about you, your skills, experience and accomplishments, and most importantly, your plan for success for the new position if hired. And the way I suggest it, you put your face right on the cover.

 

Today’s executive job market is a buyer’s market. Organizations have no trouble attracting 1000 or more resumes for a VP-level position posted on TheLadders.com, and the short list of finalists can include 10 or more candidates.  Each gets an hour. Interviewed back-to-back over a couple of days. With a mad scramble to check email and voicemail in between meetings. How was it you planned to stand out in that mess?

 

Marketing, public relations and advertising agencies understand well this beauty pageant routine when competing for new business and wouldn’t think to show up for such a meeting without their carefully-prepared and rehearsed capabilities presentations, and copies to leave behind.

 

The Capabilities eBrochure is a document any professional can create without any special software or skills.  It can be created in a weekend and produced in quantity for relatively little money. The basics of the Capabilities eBrochure look like this:

  • Software.  Use software you already have and should know how to use well – Microsoft PowerPoint (or equivalent presentation software like Zoho Show).
  • Look-and-Feel.  This is basically a magazine or sales collateral about you. Make it attractive and artistic. If you can’t, then hire someone who can. This should NOT look like a hard copy of a Powerpoint presentation.
  • Section 1: Reasons Why They Should Hire You.  The front of the eBrochure is your canvas to articulate the specific criteria the organization should use to choose the winning candidate, and why you exceed each.
  • Section 2: Your Plan for Success.  “What have you done lately” isn’t good enough any more.  Companies hiring VP-level and C-level executives expect you to know what you’ll accomplish for them in your first 100 days and to be able to tell them.  Put your 100-Day Plan here.
  • Addenda: Supporting Documents.  This is where you can add a very select set of evidence that clearly supports the reasons to hire you and/or your 100 Day Plan. Add only enough to make your point. Too much and they’ll never read it.
  • Production.  Don’t scrimp here. Print the eBrochure on high quality semi-gloss paper, 24# weight or higher. Go to Fedex Office, Office Depot or OfficeMax and get each document coil-bound with a clear front cover and rigid black back cover. Make enough for everyone in the room PLUS anyone not there who you might want to send one to later.
  • Presentation.  When you enter the room, quietly pull the stack of eBrochures from your briefcase and place them in front of you. Don’t say anything about them until the opportune moment. Generally in an interview, there is a moment when the candidate is asked, “What would your first 90-100 days on board look like?”  This is that moment. Now is when you hand them out. Depending on your audience, you may want to lead them through each page, or you may want to selectively cite content on specific pages to support points you make as your interview progresses.

Final thought: I’ve linked an eBrochure (Mark Olson Capabilities eBrochure) I developed and used recently for an executive-level marketing position at a private college. I am making a major career change into higher education and it’s important for me to explain why I am qualified and why I will make a major difference.

 

If you have thoughts or similar documents you’d like to share, I’d love to see them.

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Every week I’ll highlight a word that catches my attention. As a marketing and communications professional, I stress simple, straightforward language in my work, however I’m always watching for the evolving lexicon of the market. For growing vocabulary, I recommend these sites: FreeRice.com, UrbanDictionary.com, InvestorWords.com, BusinessDictionary.com, Merriam-Webster Online]

 

The word for this week is — FAIL.  Maybe it’s me, but when did it become acceptable, even humorous, to denounce a person, comment, organization, government, etc. with a single word verdict?

 

FAIL as a “thumbs down” from a websphere heckler falls into the same bucket of dismissive, lazy interjections as “whatever” and “sucks”.

 

Urbandictionary.com has 41 entries for the term FAIL.  A quick Google Blogsearch for the exact phrase FAIL yields more than 7 million entries, but that includes the appropriate use of the verb, so it’s hard to sort out how pervasive its use is as a pejorative. 

 

There is even a Failblog.org site which I have to confess has some pretty funny content.

 

The bigger picture is this: I’d like to believe we’re more evolved than reducing our subjective interpersonal vocabulary to single-word backhands.  Let’s bring back intelligent, constructive conversation.  Or: “If you can’t think of anything nice to say…”

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[Every week I’ll highlight a word that catches my attention.  As a marketing and communications professional, I stress simple, straightforward language in my work, however I’m always watching for the evolving lexicon of the market.  For growing vocabulary, I recommend these sites: FreeRice.com, UrbanDictionary.com, InvestorWords.com, BusinessDictionary.com, Merriam-Webster Online]

The word for this week is — conflate.  I started running across this in the blogs I read with increasing some weeks ago and a quick Google Blog Search reveals more than 32,500 results. 

In fact, there’s even a blog titled “conflate”.

It describes the mashup of words, phrases or ideas into a new composite expression.  A quick scan of Google and Google Blog Search results shows the usage of conflate seems to fall into roughly three camps: religion, politics and the economy.  It’s an aggressive, jarring word most often used to unfavorably, even confrontationally, highlight the pairing of ideas with which the user takes issue.

From a marketing and communications perspective, I think it works best in op-ed pieces, speeches and blogs.  And sparingly.

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