Questions and Answers with Career Expert Phil Hey
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
Phil Hey is a professor of English and writing at Briar Cliff College Sioux City, Iowa.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||As an English professor, you must have some strong opinions about the importance of writing skills in the workplace. How important are writing skills? Can good writing skills help you get ahead? Can poor writing skills hold you back?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Writing skills are not only important but essential. Poor writing skills can:
Good writing skills are a strong way to support your success:
The Securities and Exchange Commission thinks that good writing is so important that it has published a Plain English Handbook, a great source available through mail or online. I advise everyone to get it and use it.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the most common mistake you see your students make on their resumes and cover letters?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||Aside from editing errors, few students know how to give evidence of achievement – proof that their actions had positive, recognized results. Employers don’t want a dead history of education and job descriptions; they want some outcomes that show that the applicant really can produce on the job.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the biggest mistake job-seekers make that your advice could correct or prevent?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Small, stupid mistakes – usually in editing – on application letters and resumes. People have no idea how visible and powerful such mistakes can be, but often one mistake will take a candidate out of the running. Over-relying on spell checkers is a common source of such errors. Candidates have to learn to use their own skills, and they should have several good proofreaders as friends.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||In what ways do you believe technology will continue to change job-seeking and the career development field?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||For both good and bad, job-seekers and companies will continue to make quicker and more exact matches with each other. The good side is that someone can join a company and know very well how they can perform and what they’ll be doing. The bad side is that companies may miss out on some great employees who might need training or education to fit into the position. In any event, immediately applicable skills are becoming ever more important for job candidates.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the biggest myth about job-hunting?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||A powerful one is that since the job market is so good now, you can always get another job if you blow it with one employer. That might be true for some people, but sometimes, depending on how you goof up, a single bad job experience can follow you around for years.
A close second is that success is related to how many resumes you send out. To me, this notion is a little like sending a written marriage proposal to every opposite-sex name in the phone book. By contrast, every application should be prepared by careful research, and every application should be tailored and targeted to a specific employer.
Phil Hey is a professor of English and writing at Briar Cliff College, Sioux City, Iowa. Last summer, he wrote a capital proposal for Verity Farms International, taught at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival, edited a book of poetry, wrote a commissioned hymn, and read incessantly.
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