Author experiences, Book Marketing, Embracing Creativity, Fiction, Getting Published, Nonfiction, Writing Tips

EMBRACE THOSE REJECTIONS — Southern Writers – Suite T

This is a re-post from the excellent website Southern writers – Suite T.

By Vicki H. Moss, Contributing Editor for Southern Writers MagazineOn May 2 on the Suite T blog, I wrote about the children’s writer Madeleine L’engle, author of the children’s book A Wrinkle in Time; how she kept writing after rejections because she couldn’t stop. Most of you know that A Wrinkle in Time, a young adult novel in…

via EMBRACE THOSE REJECTIONS — Southern Writers – Suite T

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Education, Embracing Creativity, employment, Job search, Writing Tips

How to market your liberal arts resume

Whether you are about to graduate from college or have been in the work trenches for years, finding a good job is not easy. And if you have a liberal arts degree, it can feel even harder.

But if you read my earlier post about job hunting as a liberal arts major, you know that humanities majors DO have great job skills that apply to just about any field.

Re-brand your skill set

Our degrees give us a whole host of useful skills. But if you’re applying for a job that doesn’t ask for a humanities degree, don’t put your education near the top of your resume.

Instead, create a section for the key skills sought in the job description. These might be traits you don’t associate with your humanities degree — “Technical Skills,” Leadership,” “Finance Experience,” or “Project Management.”

Don’t panic! Show that you have the capacity to do whatever is being asked. For example:

  • you need to know an industry-specific software tool; is there a similar tool you HAVE used?
  • you don’t have the technical background, but you do have analytical skills, such as problem solving, research, organizational, editing, and computer experience (MS Office, design programs, online learning, etc…).
  • you’ve had to write about very technical, complex subjects in a clear, understandable way
  • you’ve never been a manager, but you’ve led group projects in graduate school or you started a club in college and kept it going for four years
  • you run your own online business (such as etsy or selling ebooks) and handle all the finances
  • you’ve increased your blog traffic 40% over the past two years

Re-brand your unique experiences to show you CAN do the job.

Highlight your liberal arts gems

You have the “soft skills” so many employers are looking for. List these in a special section called “Key Skills” near the top of your resume. Here are some examples:

  • Critical Thinking Skills (from all those books you’ve analyzed and essays you’ve had to write!)
  • Creative Problem Solving
  • Conflict Resolution (group work, tutoring, juggling academic projects…)
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Relating to Diverse Groups of People
  • Written Communication
  • Oral communication (if you had to give a lot of presentations and/or taught)
  • Research and Active Listening
  • Teamwork and Working Individually
  • Discipline and Juggling Multiple Projects (especially if you got good grades!)
  • Organization and Planning
  • Passion for Learning (you’re a liberal arts major!)

Tailor your list to the job description. For example, if the job requires interaction with the public, you could label your section “People Skills” or “Communication Skills.”

Format your resume so it looks professional.

Look at examples of resumes in the field you’re applying for and match the style and tone leaders in the industry use. Use the appropriate jargon and keywords of that profession. A few guidelines:

  • use bullets, rather than paragraphs (unless you include a short personal statement/objective at the beginning of your resume)
  • if you capitalize one bullet, capitalize them all (and vice versa)
  • if you put a period at the end of one bullet, do them all (and vice versa)
  • start all your bullet list items in the same way — for example, with action verbs
  • all headings should be the same style and size; all body text should be the same
  • print out your resume so you can see how it looks on paper
  • margins should not be more than 1-inch, otherwise it looks like you’re trying to fill up space

Good luck, and please leave a comment with your suggestions  and experience tailoring your resume!

Education, employment, Job search

You’re a humanities major. Now what?

If  you have an English degree like me (or pretty much any liberal arts degree), you have likely heard the same comments from people with “useful” degrees in computers or accounting about how hard it will be for you to find a “real” job.

So, what do you do? The good news is that we humanities majors have lots of excellent skills that transfer into many different fields. With our capacity for critical thinking, organization, and written communication, we’re like the chameleons of the professional world.

Here’s a five-step process to help you find a career that pays actual money!

1. Find your focus. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, start with the general field you’re interested in — healthcare? Publishing? Law? Would you like to work at a university setting? Consider if you want a private sector, nonprofit, or government job. All three categories have advantages and disadvantages. Typically, private companies pay higher, while state and federal jobs tend to have better benefits packages and can be more stable. Nonprofit jobs may allow you to work in a field you’re passionate about — say, the environment or helping children.

2. Start a targeted search. If you know specific companies or organizations you’d like to work for (perhaps a nearby hospital is known for great benefits), start there. Otherwise, go to a job site (like LinkedIn or indeed) and search with humanities-related keywords of skills that are in demand, including “research,” “written communications,” “critical thinking,” “logistics,” and “project management.”

3. Take note of recurring job titles. Maybe you’ve been targeting universities and notice that “recruiter” type positions keep popping up for your skill set. Or you’re interested in a private sector job and the word “management” keeps appearing in your search results. Research those job titles that keep recurring to learn more.

4. Add any missing technical skills. Each industry uses specific software for its day-to-day operations, whether that’s an invoicing tool or an online teaching platform. As you’re researching job titles, take note of the tools you need to learn (or at least be aware of). Your local community colleges may teach the exact course you need, or you could try a site like www.udemy.com for online classes.

5. Update and “reboot” your resume to match that job title and industry.  Research the culture of the field and make sure your resume reflects that same style — in word choices and layout. Look at examples of others’ resumes in the same industry to make sure yours isn’t way off base.

If you need help, there are lots of professionals out there who can tailor your resume to help you land that job. Local colleges and universities may have career services open to the public, and your library likely has free resources, too!

Book Reviews, Bookstores, Fiction

Latest read…a Scottish thriller!

A few weeks ago, I hit the jackpot at Purple Crow Books in Hillsborough — hardback thrillers on sale for $5 each!! So, I immediately snatched some up. The first one I read turned out to be written by a Scottish author, Catriona McPherson.

                             HOUSE. TREE. PERSON. by Catriona McPherson

House. Tree. Person. is an unusual thriller, set partially in a grubby flat near the ruins of an abbey where monks had been buried years before. Ali and her husband Marco were forced to downgrade from their spacious home to the flat due to money problems. Their teenage son, Angelo, seems ambivalent, although he likes to spend time hanging out at the ruins for some reason.

The story gets interesting when a body is discovered at the ruins, and Angelo gets caught up in the murder investigation. At the same time, Ali fakes her way into a well-paid beautician job at a mental health institution located on nearby military training grounds. From day one, the place feels weird to Ali — a young woman keeps claiming to have murdered her own father. A bedridden woman, Sylivie,  appears catatonic but responds to Ali’s gentle massages and manicures.

Meanwhile, Ali must hold it together while the police question her son and flashbacks of a traumatic past threaten her sanity!

I really like the dark, moody atmosphere McPherson sets up — the ruins of the abbey in the background and the foreboding military grounds with days when staff and patients aren’t allowed to wander, due to practice shots and explosions. I love Ali’s interactions with the patients, the kind way she suggests fixes for their skin and problems; she’s very believable, and her character comes alive the most during these scenes.

At times, the dialogue felt a little “clunky” and even a bit forced; mainly this happened with interactions between Ali and her oddly unpleasant boss, Dr. Ferris. I think the Dr. Ferris character could be fleshed out a bit more. Also, the end felt a little rushed and slightly convoluted, with Ali dashing outside at times and then running into characters in hallways.

But, overall, I enjoyed the novel and would recommend it to those who like a good mystery – it’s darker than a typical “cozy” and makes for a satisfying read!

Author experiences, Embracing Creativity, Fiction, History and culture, Writing Tips

My Mother’s Blessing To Be A Writer — Women Writers, Women’s Books

This is a re-post from the excellent Women Writers, Women’s Books website… Wonderfully written and, I believe, many writers and artists can relate.

It’s been eleven years since my mother passed away, eleven years since I last heard her voice. She was sixty-three years old, unquestionably too young. After she died, I began paying attention to the experiences friends had with similar losses. Some of them spoke of messages they believed their loved ones had sent – birds…

via My Mother’s Blessing To Be A Writer — Women Writers, Women’s Books

Author experiences, Book Marketing, Book Reviews, Bookstores

The Importance of Informative Book Reviews — Southern Writers – Suite T

Below is a re-post from the excellent Southern Writers blog. Do you read reviews before buying a book? More importantly, do you leave reviews for books you like/dislike? If I’m online, I tend to scan both the good and bad reviews to get a balanced feel for a book. But what if you’re browsing in a bookstore? Sometimes the best books are ones you just stumble upon and take a leap of faith based on the back cover!

By Vicki H. Moss, Contributing Editor for Southern Writers MagazineSo many books—so many hours in one lifetime to read them. There’s no way to plow through them all. And that’s the reason book reviews are so important.I recently bought a couple of books recommended for a trip I was soon to take. Since I was going…

via The Importance of Informative Book Reviews — Southern Writers – Suite T

Embracing Creativity, Fiction, History and culture, NaNoWriMo, Writing Tips

10 Elements of Gothic Literature via Flavia the Bibliophile

This is a re-post from Flavia the Bibliophile’s excellent blog! I thought it was perfect for anyone wanting to write a ghost story or spooky novel for Halloween and/or NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is every November.

With both Halloween and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) coming up, I have decided to partner up with Invaluable to bring you an epic infographic! For those of you planning on writing a novel that’s more on the spooky side, the below infographic depicts and explains the 10 main elements found in Gothic literature! In the spirit…

via Guest Post: 10 Elements of Gothic Literature — Flavia the Bibliophile –