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The Power of Punctuation

Your words are an incredibly powerful business tool that you use each and every day. This is especially true during your job search. Not surprisingly, the punctuation around those words can be just as important as the words themselves.

You may have heard me preach before about the space that appears after a period at the end of a sentence. Did you know that it’s now unacceptable to include two spaces after a period? The new standard is one space after the period. If you’re like me, your teachers engrained double spacing in you as if your entire future depended on it. You can’t imagine a world with one space after a period.

To make matters worse, when the standard changed to one space, no memo was sent around. Unfortunately, those who were taught to use one space judge the double spacers. It’s assumed that a lack of intelligence must be to blame. This feeling is confirmed in an article I recently read titled, “For the Love of God, Stop Putting Two Spaces After a Period.” Now, that’s passion. Don’t you think?

I learned this single spacing lesson the hard way, from the kind editors who review my column each week. The editor of my book had also shared the feedback with me, but I was so certain about the double space that I ignored this advice until I heard it multiple times. It still surprises me how much these small details influence the reader’s interpretation of the overall message.

On top of spaces, there are other punctuation marks that should be used carefully. The most important is the exclamation point! If you use an exclamation point at all in business emails, try to keep them to a maximum of one to two per email. It’s possible to show excitement through your writing without an overuse of this mark. Using too many will make you appear overly eager, immature, or as if you’re yelling.

Keep smiley faces and other emoji-like characters out of work emails completely if possible. These are best used between friends. Using them at work can make you appear unprofessional at best.

So, which punctuation marks should you use? The most used punctuation mark is the period. Other marks that can be mixed in are the question mark, the comma, the colon, and the semicolon. These marks will help you to express your thoughts in an even, business-like way.

Writing an effective business email is truly an art. It takes time and practice to come across clearly and concisely on a computer screen. Using punctuation to your advantage is the very first step to getting there. In fact, the better your communication is at work, the more likely you are to move your ideas forward. And, the more you’re able to champion your own ideas, the more you’ll find that the doors to your career open. Although punctuation can seem like a silly detail, it’s something that’s relatively easy to improve and that will leave a lasting impact.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

You’re making yourself look old. And, you don’t even know it.

Today, I want to share with you a column I wrote in 2015 for my Career Corner Column. It’s been two years since it was first published, but the message still holds true today. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

There’s something you may be doing every day that’s making you look old. And you probably have no idea what it is. It’s not your clothes, your hairstyle or the AOL email address you’re using (although those aren’t helping either).

What you’re doing is subtle, and worst of all, it’s what you were taught in school. How could someone teach you to do something incorrectly? Times have changed, possibly without you.

Before I get on a high horse, let me share – I learned this lesson the hard way. I want to keep you from learning it the hard way too. Because it’s possible nobody else will point it out to you. They’ll just talk about you when you’re not around or wonder to themselves about your intelligence.

This sounds like a big deal, doesn’t it?

This is how I learned my lesson the hard way. When I wrote my book, Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job, I used an editor who read the draft pages in detail. When she finished, I asked for feedback on my writing style. She said something I never expected to hear. “The one thing you need to stop doing is using two spaces after your periods.”

Wait, what? Nothing about my writing style? Two periods instead of one? But, teachers in school drilled two spaces into my head. “This must be a minor creative difference,” I thought. I left the e-book with double spaces and never looked back.

About six months later, I met with another group of editors who review my newspaper column. I asked the same question.

One editor cringed. He said, “Your writing style is good. But, there’s one thing that would be great if you could stop doing. You use two periods at the ends of your sentences. We always delete them.”

This stopped me in my tracks. How in the world was this a thing? How was it a big deal? How was it a pet peeve of writers? Where did I go wrong?

From the best I can gather, using two spaces was taught for years in school. At some point, the standard changed and one space became the norm. Unless you write for a living, you probably weren’t told about the change.

Simply put – your two spaces are dating you. I suspect you’re like me and don’t know. Anytime I tell a client about this standard, they’re always surprised.

Recently, I read an article that began, “Can I let you in on a secret? Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.” The author goes on to say, “What galls me about two-spacers is…”

What I’m getting at is one space versus two spaces is apparently a controversial issue. And, we’re all being judged. If you’re out there applying for jobs, take my advice: Switch to one space. Don’t overthink it. Just do it. After some practice, it will become more natural. And you’ll look that much better, and younger, in job interviews.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Why you need to Google-stalk yourself

Have you ever heard of “Google stalking”? It’s this silly term used to describe researching someone on the internet. You may be surprised to know it, but chances are pretty good that your future boss is going to Google stalk you.

What I mean is this. Even though your boss has your awesome resume with all your qualifications, they want to know more. They want to see if your social media accounts show up, and what you’ve been posting. They want to know what else there is to know that’s not on your resume.

So, rather than wait to see what your future boss finds, do your homework. Research yourself. See what you come up with.

Search for your name with quotes (for example, “Angela Copeland”). Take a look at what comes up, both in the main Google search results, and in Google images.

Hopefully, everything that shows up will be perfect, and you’ll be proud of your search results. But, if this isn’t the case, you first want to be aware of what’s there.

Then, you have to decide if any negative results are directly in your control or not. For example, if your Facebook page shows up with a less than flattering party photo on the front page, you can update your Facebook page. If someone else with your same name has a habit of getting arrested, you may not be able to do anything directly about those search results. But, there’s power in just knowing what a future employer may see.

But, also know that you can indirectly impact negative results that appear. Digital marketers call the process of manipulating Google search results “search engine optimization” or SEO. One tactic to pushing down negative results is to generate more positive results. The more those positive results go up, the more negative results will go down.

Great examples of this are social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. If you’re posting regularly on social media, there’s a good chance your Facebook page may show up when someone searches for you. And, it could potentially displace a negative result that you don’t have control over.

Your personal brand extends far beyond what’s listed on your resume. The new “cover letter” (so to speak) is what’s showing up within the search results on Google. It’s the entire story of you, not just your professional career. Doing a little research of your own will help you to be prepared and put your best foot forward for your future boss.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Welcome to Copeland Coaching!

Welcome to Copeland Coaching.  I’m Angela Copeland, and this site is dedicated to helping you find the right job faster.  I’ve been helping job seekers informally with their search for over 9 years.  After a recent string of requests for help, I decided it was time to officially offer my career coaching services to you.

What makes me a good interview coach? It’s simple.  When I was younger, I thought of interviewing as a sport, and I wanted to make the big leagues.  I have years of experience interviewing for (and negotiating offers in) all sorts of positions in various industries and I’m here to share what I’ve learned with you.

Let me explain. After starting my career in engineering, I wanted a career change.  In addition to engineering interviews, I interviewed jobs in other areas including sales, marketing, and operations.

I have experience interviewing with and working for many different types of organizations, including:

  • For-profit and non-profit
  • Small companies and Fortune companies
  • B2B and B2C companies
  • Different industries, including automotive, home services, logistics, financial services, and travel

I was once so determined to work for a particular big name clothing company that I snuck onto a rival graduate school campus just to meet their recruiter.  And guess what? It worked. I was invited to the company’s headquarters where I met with employees, toured the building, and had lunch with the staff.  On top of that, my graduate program, Pepperdine University, wrote an article on my experience that was mailed to 18,000 alumni.  Talk about exposure!

If you’ve found yourself feeling stuck, or are just not sure where to start and you want to start getting real results, reach out to me here.  I’m happy to help!  I will help to polish up your resume, develop creative ways to find your next perfect job, and negotiate your best offer ever.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Angela

Angela Copeland Career Coaching