Category Archives: writing tips
by Royce Murcherson
In previous posts, I have always stressed the fundamentals of persuasive business writing found in my book, The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. But lately, an important book, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg has come to my attention. It’s an honest, frank work that focuses on an untapped talent pool in the business world. It continues offering vital information on how these talented individuals can become leaders, champions, and partners. Who are the people that make up this untapped resource? Women.
At first sight, you might think this is just another self-help book full of advice you’ve already heard. I did, until I spoke with a female executive in a fortune 500 corporation. I suddenly realized a simple truth. Chances are many women in the business world have lived the challenges presented in Sheryl Sandberg’s book and may not have realized that there are reasonable and available options for overcoming these challenges.
What does all of this come down too? It comes down to women being assertive and understanding the value of internal networking. It comes down to collaboration and communication. There are companies that encourage women to seek a more visible role as senior leaders.
In my conversation with the executive who is currently involved in a women’s internal networking group, I asked, what is the biggest value? She responded, “It’s the opportunity to meet with my peers, other women, and be sponsored by senior leaders who are also women.” She went on to explain how rewarding it was to be in a group with like-minded high performing women with ambition. But most importantly, she stressed the importance of having ‘confidants’, other women who share the same goals and challenges.
I pressed for more specific reasons on how women could benefit from internal networking circles. She said, “…it gives you the opportunity to meet peers from other areas of the company and expand your awareness of opportunities within the organization.”
As I understand it, there are three big advantages to networking circles:
- You build relationships.
- You are able to increase awareness of greater leadership opportunities.
- You build knowledge with specific discussions on issues that help women to increase their effectiveness and exposure in the workplace.
Being a teacher, I needed more examples of real-time value, so I asked her what chapters in the book have ‘stayed’ with you, that is, the biggest simplest rules to remember? Quickly, she said chapters two and four.
Chapter two according to Sandberg is time to “Sit at the Table”. So what does this chapter boil down too I asked? She said, “…from what I have learned from reading the book is that women should take their proper place and not defer to eat the children’s table, be assertive.”
She went on to talk about chapter four, “It’s a Jungle Gym, not a Ladder.” I asked her to elaborate and she spoke about yet another great metaphor, the jungle gym. Apparently, the author wants women to understand that the way to success is not always a straight line. Lateral moves are good, but sometimes backwards moves can be made to build your skill set and advance.
So, if someone were to ask me what was the value in sitting down and talking to someone actively involved in a women’s group whose intent is to expand their reach professionally and personally, I would have to say this. Think Chess.
It’s all about strategy and patience. Be strategic and recognize that women represent the great untapped pool of talent. Be strategic and do something about organizing this vast pool. Be patient and know that knowledge building and forging relationships may take time, but the rewards can be great.
In his review of Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg, Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group stated, “…women in leadership roles is good for business as well as society.”
For a more expanded discussion on workplace etiquette, look forward to further posts, and see my book, Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. (Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013)
Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010
For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, firstname.lastname@example.org 972-238-6215.
If you use more than one of the social media (SM) platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc.) to network and stay engaged with contacts, customers, the community, etc., you should be aware of the differences among them and how to use each platform most effectively.
David Hagy has created an excellent infographic that outlines the do’s and don’ts for each social media type.
The one word of caution he offers to SM writers is to avoid the temptation of using SM management tools such as HootSuite or Buffer to push out your content using the same format. Sure it’s fine to use HootSuite and Buffer to manage your SM planning and scheduling across platforms, but consider the strengths and weaknesses of each platform and adapt your message format accordingly.
Below are a few suggestions from David’s infographic, but click this link to see the full visual that contains the important points to keep in mind for each social media type.
David also offers suggestions for the best and worst times to post content by SM type.
For more information on the BOSS program and how you can get yourself better prepared for you career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, email@example.com or 972-238-6215.
Using the Toulmin Model to Write Persuasive Job Application Letters–One of the most effective ways to write persuasive job application letters is to use the Toulmin Model of Argumentation. This model is based on the work of Stephen Toulmin in his book, The Uses of Argument.
Persuasive job application letters are also arguments. You are arguing for your future. You are selling the idea of you being the best person for the job. And to sell yourself effectively, you will need to understand the three essentials in job application letters. These essentials are found in the Toulmin Model.
Claim – This is a straightforward declarative statement. It could be something as simple as completing the sentence, “My years of experience and broad knowledge of financial analysis make me supremely qualified for this position.”
Support – It can emphasize work experience, or if recently graduated, emphasize academic accomplishments
Employer Expectations – Assumptions as to what the employer expects in a prospective employee
Types of Letters
Job application letters sometimes called cover letters will work in tandem with the resume. The cover letter puts forth a claim that you are the best candidate for the job while at the same time addressing the prospective employer’s stated or unstated expectations.
There are several types:
- Letters that respond to a job opening
- Letters that are general inquiries when no specific opening has been posted
- Letters that are targeted inquiries when you are interested in a specific job
- Follow up letters such as a post-interview letter
All of these letters should include the Three Essentials:
- Claim – Why you are the best person for the job
- Support – Reasons why you are the best person for the job
- Employer Expectations – Attributes the employer will want to see in you
The Need to Know Employer Expectations
After your initial claim, you must address the prospective employer’s expectations. Remember ‘the need to know’ mentioned in my previous blog? The need to know your reader or prospective employer is very important. You must try to figure out what qualities and skills the employer will want in a new employee. You’re probably thinking, how do I figure this out? This is how you do it.
Ask Yourself One Simple Question…
Why would this person want to hire me? Remember these are only assumptions, but common sense assumptions, so make a list. It might be reasons like experience, education, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills. Writing about yourself in these areas will help to address unanswered questions the prospective employer may have about you.
How You Can Remove Some of the Guess Work?
Research the Employer – Locate all relevant information on the company such as corporate vision, profit and loss, stock performance, and long term industry outlook. Knowing something about the company demonstrates your interest.
Research the Position – Locate information on salary range, customary duties and responsibilities, potential for growth.
Persuasion is Power!
Understanding the art of persuasion, the power it wields, and the success it can yield is absolutely necessary in the job search. You will have many opportunities to sell your ideas when you’re on the job, but first you will need to land the job. And to do this, you will need the best tools. Think of the Toulmin Model as a new kind of toolbox, one that contains the essentials of success.
For a more expanded discussion on writing persuasive job application letters and using the Toulmin Model of Argumentation in business writing, see my book, Royce Murcherson, PhD, The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. (Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013) 1-11.
Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010
Toulmin, Stephen. The Uses of Argument. Cambridge University Press. New York, 1958.
This article is the last in a four-part guest series written by Royce Murcherson, PhD, on how to improve your writing skills and behavior. Dr. Murcherson is a faculty member in World Languages, Cultures, and Communications at Richland College in Dallas.
For more information on BOSS course offerings in communications, the BOSS degree and certificates, and how the BOSS program can help you with your career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, firstname.lastname@example.org 972-238-6215.