Becoming Professional: A Blog

Archive for February 2010

This week, we’re having a little story about different people communicate in different ways. It has elves.

I am a vocalist. I sing broadway tunes and am learning more classical works. My teacher is an opera singer with a docterate in voice. Before I met her I didn’t even know that they had doctorates in voice.

During my lessons, she and I struggle with understanding each other. I just don’t have the vocabulary to describe the sensations one has while singing. For instance, she says “Make the sound come out into the room,” and I go, “huh?” Where else is it going to go? My ears?

So, after hitting the correct note in the correct manner, she asked me once, “How would you describe that? How did it make you feel?”

I paused and thought about it before answering, “Like a pretty elven opera singer.”

She couldn’t respond for a good heart beat or two. Then she cracked up.

I explained, “The ‘pretty’ describes the vibrato. ‘Elven’ means the etherial quality, the breath. ‘Opera,’ to me, is the reach and strength. Finally, ‘singer’ means that I hit the right note.”

My teacher would have never summed up all of that as “pretty elven opera singer.” I did because of my history with fantasy litterature (I’m a mega fan. I even write novels when I’m not learning about professionalism and business).

We each have different ways of communicating. What means “good singing” to one person may mean absolutely nothing to another. “Good job,” may mean, “do better next time,” to one person and “excellent!” to another. We have no way of knowing what our words will mean to folk.


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This week, were talking e-mail. I remember getting my first e-mail: I was 12 and paranoid about putting my real name online. How many of you are still using your first e-mail? And how many of you put that e-mail on your resume? Lots of people do it.

But your e-mail says a lot about you. It’s not like a phone number, something we’re assigned. We choose it, and we’re going to get judged by it. Is the person you were when you chose your e-mail at the age of 12, 21, 40, or whatever the person you want to show professional colleagues or hiring managers?

And there are pitfalls. You want to show off how good a writer you are, but unfortunately, coming right out and saying “” looks a bit over the top. Some domains (the company hosting your e-mail) also have a bad wrap. I’ve seen AOL and Yahoo criticized, but my personal opinion is that Hotmail is the least professional of the bunch. It’s completely subjective, but you will still be judged by it when the hiring manager sees it. He might not even realize he’s judging you.

You’re e-mail is your calling card, your personal brand. Most importantly, I think, you want people to be able to get in touch with you easily. So, if you use some variety of your name as your e-mail (“” for instance), then even without your business card in front of them, people can remember your e-mail and get in contact with you.

Choose your e-mail wisely. And don’t try to reach me via MissBuggie30. Total spam bin now.

Not long ago, before I graduated from Arizona State University, I did what every career coach told me to: I applied for jobs and went to career fairs. All the recruiters told me to do the same thing–go online and apply on the company job page. How well did that turn out?

It didn’t. None of those folks hired me. And here’s why I think they didn’t.

I didn’t use key words. After doing a bit of research and haunting recruiter blogs and job search pages, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you don’t have a special resume for each job you apply for, chocked full of specific key words, you aren’t really applying for the job. You’re just filling out a form. I filled out forms. Don’t be like me.

Here’s how you do it: When you sit down to rework your resume for a specific post, take a good look at the job description. If the job description says, “balancing the department budget,” include a bullet someplace where it would fit in that has the word “budgeting.” If you’re applying for an accountant position, put the word, “accountant,” in the resume in multiple places. Try and think what you would put into a database search if you were an HR manager trying to find good ______________ (accountants, marketers, printers, receptionists, hair dressers…. etc).

That said, please oh please realize that eventually a human being will see that resume and read it. If the machine chugs it out as a “perfect” candidate because of all those key words, but in order to get all those key words in there you had to write nonsense sentences… you’re probably still not going to get the job. The human being has to like the resume just as much as the computer, if not more.

So write that special resume for each job you apply for, just like how you write a special cover letter for each job description (please tell me you do that!). It really does help.

This is a rare experience. Today’s post is a book review of The Facebook Era that I know will be read by the author, Clara Shih. I mentioned the book in a tweet a week ago and she contacted me, so I put the chances of her not reading this at zero. But what else would you expect from an author of a social networking book? I already gave Ms. Shih a brief review on Twitter, but 140 characters is not enough to really evaluate a book. So, Ms. Shih, here are my thoughts, 2nd edition.  

I do recommend The Facebook Era by Clara Shih. Ms. Shih does a great job explaining how networking works through Facebook and how Facebook is useful for everything from a job search to marketing a product. Good info, if you can stay with it. The problem is sticking with it. Disclaimer: I read my professional literature right when I wake up. I don’t even leave my bed. I might have a shorter attention span and lower alertness that makes me likely to doze on a book. Hey, I doze without the book.

Still, there are some undeniable similarities between The Facebook Era and a text book, and those are notoriously sedative. For instance, Ms. Shih has helpfully provided lots of case studies, but she’s put them in grey boxes, exactly like text books do with their case studies… I skipped them immediately, a habit I got into at school.

On Twitter, Ms Shih asked me how to improve the book for the second edition. 140 characters is too short to really give good feedback, so here it is:

  • You do a great job explaining how to use Facebook in advanced ways, but then you explain the simple principles of viral marketing. Your strength is in the tough stuff. Those who don’t get the basics should read Facebook for Dummies.
  • The book needs more personality. We can tell from the Facebook photos of you that you have it, but the book lacks it. Please put more in. Stories of your experience to illustrate your points instead of the case studies in grey boxes.
  • Case studies… and more case studies… in grey boxes… Maybe it’s because I recently graduated, but I hate text books with an unholy passion. This reminded me of those. However, this would be a great book to market to college professors, as is. Students have to buy your book, and they’d love you if you kept the price point the same (I distinctly remember $190 books. It’s just paper, publishers. Bring it down some, please.)

End summary: Good book. Useful information. Definetly worth a read. Could it be improved? Hell yes, but what can’t? I look forward to the second edition. Ms. Shih already has great info, next is emotion. Ms. Shih, I want to be your biggest consumer evangelist, just give me something to be passionate about.

Anyway, who’s to say I shouldn’t just have my coffee first so I’m no so critical?

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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog ( and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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