As I navigate this time of unemployment, one of the most confusing parts is getting your résumé just right.  The problem is that everyone you talk with has a different idea of what makes the perfect resume.

I was talking to a friend today who is a recruiter, and she says there is no perfect standard.  Each hiring manager is looking for something else, however, they don’t tell anyone what that perfect resume looks like.  She told the story of one hiring manager who didn’t want to interview one of her clients.  When she asked why, noting that this candidate was seemingly a perfect fit for the job, the manager said, “He has references in the résumé!” Of course, there are bound to be other hiring managers out there that think references should be in the resume.

Looking online for guidance can be a mess of confusing and contradictory information.  Each article will tell you something different.  This  article will tell you the number of pages doesn’t matter, as long as the information is relevant.  The next article will tell you no more than two pages.  At one of my networking groups, one of the guys got a job after posting his résumé for only nine days, and his résumé is seven pages long!

I’m going to stick with two pages for now.  I’ll keep tweaking the wording, and hopefully, I’ll stumble upon the right resume for the right job.


Learning new software…

The other day, I came across a job posting that mentioned a software package that I had never used.  Being the good internet user that I am, I googled the software, and went to their website.  What a wonderful treasure trove of information I found there!  Not only  was I able to download an evaluation copy of the software to work with, they offered a number of FREE online tutorials that would be helpful, not only for a new user, but for an existing user that needs to learn something new. The best free online tutorials I have ever seen were for MadCap Flare, XML-Based Single-Source Content Authoring for Multi-Channel Publishing. (

There are a number of companies that offer evaluation copies of their software.  There are often limitations on how you can use the software and how long you can use it. However, it can be a great way to add a skill to your résumé or evaluate different software programs before you buy.

So, the next time you see mention of a software package you aren’t familiar with, check it out online.  You may be surprised!

Style Guides, Part 2

Second and final installment in my look at style guides.

APA Style: “The rules of APA Style, detailed in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, offer sound guidance for writing with simplicity, power, and concision. APA Style has been adapted by many disciplines and is used by writers around the world.”

One nice thing about their website is that it offers tutorials on using their style.

The Research and Documentation Online 5th Edition:  This seems to be more of a guide used to help you decide which style guide to use.

Chicago Manual of Style:  This is the one I remember using back in college all those many years ago.  It gives almost no information on its website, but offers subscription access for $35/yr.  Print copy is $65.  They are up to version 16, but I think I’ll stick with the one I’ve got, version 14.

MLA Style: MLA actually has two different style guides:  The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. I guess that pretty much sums up what they are used for.  Can’t get info from the website on actual style usage, but the books are cheaper than the Chicago book.

Microsoft Manual of Style: “The essential reference for technical writers, editors, journalists, and everyone else who writes about computer technology. Developed by Microsoft’s senior editors and content managers, this manual of style captures the up-to-date standards and best practices for delivering clear and consistent technical communications. Now in its third edition, this popular reference has been fully revised, expanded, and optimized for ease of use. You’ll find new coverage on meeting the needs of a global audience, accessibility concerns, and the latest technical terms and acronyms—along with expertly organized sections on usage, grammar, punctuation, tone, formatting, and common style problems. Whether you’re creating print documentation, online help, Web content, or other communications, you’ll get the information and examples you need to maximize the impact and precision of your message.”   Well, it is Microsoft.  Of course they think it is the best.  But for a technical writer, I think it is pretty comprehensive.  You can find the book, which includes a CD with the eBook, for sale online for about $150. O’Reilly is now offering an eBook in various formats for $23.99, which, compared to the $150 of the print book, seems to be a pretty good deal.

That’s all I’m going to write about style guides.  Google “style guides” and you’ll find more info than you will need.  I’m sticking with Microsoft and Chicago.

Style Guides

Last week, someone asked me which style guide I used. For my work as a software technical writer, I’ve been asked to adhere to Microsoft Manual of Style and Chicago Manual of Style.  But, the question got me thinking about other style guides, and what the differences are. After googling style guides, I found a few others. So, over the next couple of days I’ll be posting about some of them.

Elements of Style: “First published in 1918, William Strunk, Jr., believed that one must first know the rules to break them. This classic reference book is a must-have for any student and conscientious writer. Intended for use in which the practice of composition is combined with the study of literature, it gives in brief space the principal requirements of plain English style and concentrates attention on the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.”  It was last updated in 1999, and is found online. I wanted to see if there was any mention of websites or software, and neither term appears in the online text.

2010 AP Stylebook: “The AP Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, a style manual produced by the world’s leading news agency, is an essential handbook for all writers, editors, students and public relations specialists. The 2010 edition provides fundamental guidelines on spelling, grammar, punctuation and usage, with special sections on social media, reporting business and sports. Included is an updated guide to media law.” Cost is $10.49 at  Again, probably not the style of choice for tech writers, but used in many fields.

More next time…

To two too 2!

I read an article tonight from the New York Times, Texting May Be Taking a Toll.  While it talked about the physical problems teens are having from too much texting, I started thinking about the changes we’ll see in the English language as a result of all the texting done by teens today.
Will they drop the different spellings of “two,” “to,” and “too” and replace them all with just the number 2?  When texting, people use so many shortcuts: 2, r, u, LOL, ROFL.  The question is whether or not we will see language change.  I realize language is fluid, and has always been going through change, but I’m wondering if the changes we are seeing in text messages will force some drastic changes.

So, 2nite I’m thru here, and I’ll say GN!

Social Media

I went to a Social Media presentation and discussion at the Denver Technology Professionals meeting.  Besides great networking and meeting others, the speaker, Drew Shope, gave an excellent overview of social media and how little time is needed daily to get your name out there, and how great it is when everything is centered around one element.  Thanks, Drew, for sharing your knowledge!