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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How to write monetary abbreviations in resumes and CVs

HOW TO WRITE MONETARY ABBREVIATIONS IN RESUMES AND CVs

Thanks to my AIGAC colleague Laura Freedman, who shared some great advice regarding numerical abbreviations in resumes.

How to use abbreviated numbers in resumes for international MBA programs and companies

PREFERRED BY INSEAD (and understood / acceptable at any top MBA program)
(from the CV self-review style guide INSEAD gives to incoming students)

Suggested numerical abbreviations:
  • k for 1,000 (thousands)
  • mn for 1,000,000 (millions)
  • bn for 1,000,000,000 (billions)
  • tn for 1,000,000,000,000 (trillions)

For Indians – avoid lakh and crore. For Japanese – avoid man. These terms suggest you're going to have difficulty adapting to an international corporate environment.

For currencies - we use currency code, but for major dollar denominations, we prefer US$ and SG$, CN$, AU$ and NZ$. The $ next to the number makes it easier to distinguish the currency from from the number, and is a symbol most people recognise, e.g., US$30k vs. USD30k, or CN$60mn vs. CAD60mn. Note that a common error is USD$ - either D or $ is fine but using both is not.

For other currencies, I prefer £ and € to EUR and GBP for readability. € is unique to Euro, and £ is dominant enough that nobody is going to mistake the currency for e.g. Cypriot pounds (unless you are from or worked in Cyprus, in which case it's best to use GBP for clarity).

As a general rule, convert currency amounts to US$, since it's a universally-understood international currency. It's also OK to use the currency for the market you are targeting, recognising that that signals you want to be in that market. Best to avoid other currencies. Most prospective employers (or B-schools) are not going to understand PEN40mn (Peruvian Nuevo Sol), or DZD246mn (Algerian Dinar), for example.

More tips on how to write numerals here


- Updated by Vince on Wed 24 Aug 2016


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What is "résumé English" and why should I use it?

NOTE: The below advice also applies to short answers in online application data forms 

To save space for quantitative data (#, $, %) and qualitative details (first, youngest, only, best), I encourage you to use "résumé English." What is "résumé English" and how do I use it?
  1. Remove articles 'a', 'an', and 'the'
  2. Delete all subjects 'I' and personal pronouns (we, they, etc.)
  3. Cut helping verbs ('is,' 'was,' 'were')
  4. Use verb tenses in the past, except for your present job. Example: Conducted routine inspections of on-site equipment
  5. Remove periods (.) from the ends of each bulletet achievement since you are not writing proper English sentences
  6. Remember to use power verbs: http://techwritingtodai.blogspot.jp/2011/03/verbs.html
(modified from http://esl.about.com/cs/englishworkplace/ht/ht_resume.htm; accessed 2012/07)


HOW TO WRITE NUMBERS IN RESUMES AND CVs
  • Change all number words (five) to numerals (5)
  • In essays, write numbers as words if below 10 (except $ or %)
  • In resumes and application data forms, however, you can ignore this "rule" in order to save space that is better used for impressive details that show quantifiable results ($, %) and qualitative impact (first, youngest, only, best)

HOW TO WRITE MONETARY ABBREVIATIONS IN RESUMES AND CVs

Thanks to my AIGAC colleague Laura Freedman, who shared some great advice regarding numerical abbreviations in resumes.

How to use abbreviated numbers in resumes for international MBA programs and companies

PREFERRED BY INSEAD (and understood / acceptable at any top MBA program)
(from the CV self-review style guide INSEAD gives to incoming students)

Suggested numerical abbreviations:
  • k for 1,000 (thousands)
  • mn for 1,000,000 (millions)
  • bn for 1,000,000,000 (billions)
  • tn for 1,000,000,000,000 (trillions)

For Indians – avoid lakh and crore. For Japanese – avoid man. These terms suggest you're going to have difficulty adapting to an international corporate environment.

For currencies - we use currency code, but for major dollar denominations, we prefer US$ and SG$, CN$, AU$ and NZ$. The $ next to the number makes it easier to distinguish the currency from from the number, and is a symbol most people recognise, e.g., US$30k vs. USD30k, or CN$60mn vs. CAD60mn. Note that a common error is USD$ - either D or $ is fine but using both is not.

For other currencies, I prefer £ and € to EUR and GBP for readability. € is unique to Euro, and £ is dominant enough that nobody is going to mistake the currency for e.g. Cypriot pounds (unless you are from or worked in Cyprus, in which case it's best to use GBP for clarity).

As a general rule, convert currency amounts to US$, since it's a universally-understood international currency. It's also OK to use the currency for the market you are targeting, recognising that that signals you want to be in that market. Best to avoid other currencies. Most prospective employers (or B-schools) are not going to understand PEN40mn (Peruvian Nuevo Sol), or DZD246mn (Algerian Dinar), for example.

More tips on how to write numerals here


- Updated by Vince on Wed 24 Aug 2016




Saturday, August 20, 2016

Show AND tell: the only rule for good writing?

There is an old journalistic maxim, “Show, don’t tell,” which demands that writers show their actions to express an event or story and not just offer the results of what happened.

Please summarize with details. Instead of abstract words, try using words that you folks images in the mind's eye of your readers. In this way, you penetrate the hearts of your readers.

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." 
— Anton Chekov

I believe there is only one rule for good writing: Show, don't tell.

To "show" means to demonstrate.
To "tell" means to assert.
Watch this video to SEE the difference http://j.mp/showTEll

For example, we may say, "He is sloppy." This is telling. Instead, if you say, "His shoelaces are untied, his socks are mismatched, his shirt untucked, and his face unwashed." This is showing.

In order to truly convince your readers, make sure to show with details exactly what you mean. Save your assertions for the topic and controlling sentences.

You can't tell us someone is a wonderful person, a talented musician or a spoiled child. We won't believe you. You must show us.

How?

Please add details so readers can imagine and care about your story. Please watch this short video to learn HOW to add details to your essays.

MORE TIPS
Essay Tip: Show, Don’t Tell

Tell

  • “I arrived at ABC Bank and took on a great deal of responsibility in corporate lending. I managed diverse clients in my first year and earned the recognition of my manager. Because of my hard work, initiative and leadership, he placed me on the management track, and I knew that I would be a success in this challenging position.”

In the two sentences above, the reader is told that the applicant “took on a great deal of responsibility,” “managed diverse clients,” and “earned recognition,” none of which is substantiated via the story. Further, there is no evidence of “hard work, initiative and leadership.”

Show

  • “Almost immediately after joining ABC bank, I took a risk in asking management for the accounts left by a recently transferred manager. Soon, I expanded our lending relationships with a children’s clothing retailer, a metal recycler and a food distributor, making decisions on loans of up to $1M. Although I had a commercial banking background, I sought the mentorship of our District Manager and studied aggressively for the CFA (before and after fourteen-hour days); I was encouraged when the Lending Officer cited my initiative and desire to learn, placing me on our management track….”

In the example above, the story shows the “great deal of responsibility” (client coverage/ $1M lending decisions) and “diverse clients” (a children’s clothing retailer, a metal recycler and a food distributor). Further, “hard work, initiative and leadership” are clear throughout.

The latter is a more interesting, rich and humble paragraph – one that is more likely to captivate the reader. By showing your actions in detail, the same conclusions are drawn, but facts facilitate them. Essentially, facts become your evidence!

(found at http://www.mbamission.com/blog/2010/11/22/monday-morning-essay-tip-show-dont-tell-2/; accessed 2010/11)


Sources and more links here: http://delicious.com/admissions/sdt

Need more hints? Check out Vince's best writing links here ▸ http://www.delicious.com/admissions/writing




- Updated by Vince on Sat 20 Aug 2016



Friday, August 19, 2016

What is a main idea or contribution?


MAIN IDEA and CONTRIBUTION

What is a contribution?

·      A contribution includes an addition to your field’s overall knowledge.
It is the main idea of your paper, and the main purpose of your research.
It answers questions like:
·      What are you researching?
·      What are you trying to discover, prove, or create?
·      How do you plan to add value to your academic field?

How to determine the main idea and contribution of your paper

  • Don’t start by describing your methods: “I analyzed mobile information terminals and found many issues related to power failures and natural disasters.”
  • Instead, focus on your main idea, like this: “A single-function emergency information terminal using energy harvesting technology would allow users to access important information during natural disasters. ”
  • Distilling your main idea will take some thought and effort.
  • You might need to rewrite your paper several times.
  • You might also need to write your discussion section first.
  • After confirming the terminology and methods described in your discussion section, write your conclusion.
  • Then, determine your main idea.
  • Once you decide your main idea, help readers to get it quickly by putting it in your introduction.
  • Your introduction should include the purpose of your research
  • What specific question will you explore? How does it fit with previous research?

Why you should start your paper with your main idea and contribution

  • Your readers are busy and impatient. 
  • Most of them will not read your entire paper from start to finish.
  • Instead, most readers will skim your text looking at topic sentences, key words, and headings in order to understand what you are talking about.
  • After they form their initial impressions, they might review each sentence to understand your logic and methods.
  • How can you catch and hold their attention during their initial skim?
  • First of all, be sure to include your main idea and contribution in your first paragraph.
  • Most writers do not tell us the contribution of their paper until the end of their paper.
  • Please do not make this mistake.


Exercise

· Find and circle your contribution.

· If you cannot find your contribution, or if it is spread out across several sentences, spend a moment crystallizing your ideas into one clear contribution sentence.

· Then, draw an arrow to the top of the page. Your contribution goes at the top!

Homework: Reorganize and write your paper so that your contribution appears in the first sentence.


- Updated by Vince on Sat 20 Aug 2016



What are the five reasons to use passive voice?

USE ACTIVE VOICE
As listed below, there are only 5 reasons one should EVER use passive voice. If you don't need to use passive voice for one of those 5 reason, then you must write active sentences. Simple? Yes. Easy? No. Read on, brave writer!





What is active voice?
·       The subject does the action.


Example of active voice

Part of speech
Subject
Verb
Object

Sentence
The group
will present
the report
next week.


How can you tell if a sentence is active?
·       Ask yourself, "Who/What does the action?" If the answer is clear, the sentence is active.
o   Example: The students tested the samples.
o   Example: The samples failed.

Why use active voice?
·       Where possible, use the active voice. It is direct, brief, and easy to understand.





What is passive voice?
·       The passive voice places the emphasis on the action, rather than the actor.  


Example of passive voice

Part of speech
Subject
Verb
Object

Sentence
The report
will be presented
by the group
next week.


How can you tell if a sentence is passive?
·       The direct object is placed before the verb, which is given in the passive form. The subject, or actor, is usually not mentioned.
o   Example: The samples were tested.

Why use passive voice?
·       Passive voice is used frequently in technical (and academic) writing, where the focus is usually on what was done rather than who did it. It is conventionally used to report experimental procedure and to avoid constant repetition of I or we throughout the report, paper or thesis.
·       Use passive voice for a specific purpose, not simply out of habit.
·       In order to use passive voice correctly, it is necessary to understand, and be able to recognize, the difference between passive and active voice.




Exercise

· Find and circle all examples of passive voice in your paper.
· Do they fit one of the five reasons bel
ow?

 

Five reasons for using the passive voice

 

1. The 'actor' is not known.
·       Oil was discovered off the coast of Australia.
·       The number of Internet users was estimated to be over one million.

2. The 'actor' is not important.
·       The report has been published.
·       The results will be presented at the conference.

3. It is considered desirable to conceal the identity of the 'actor'.
·       The results are invalid, as the correct testing procedure was not followed.          
·       Research funding will be cut next year.

4. An impersonal tone is needed for academic writing.
·       In this report, the stress fields in a C-shape plate will be analyzed.
An impersonal tone is also used for describing processes.
·       First, the raw materials are loaded into a container ...

5. A tactful tone is needed to smooth over an error or difficulty.
Compare these two examples.
·       Example of passive voice: The samples were not checked at the second stage . . .
·       Example of active voice: We forgot to check the samples . . .


Homework: Find all passive voice sentences that do not fit one of the five reasons. Then, change them into active voice. 

WHAT IS PASSIVE VOICE?

Passive voice is used frequently in technical writing, where the focus is usually on what was done rather than who did it. It is conventionally used to report experimental procedure and to avoid constant repetition of I or we throughout the report, paper or thesis.

In order to use passive voice correctly, it is necessary to fully understand, and be able to recognize, the difference between passive and active voice.





Active and passive voice

  • The active voice names an 'actor' which/who is the subject of the verb; the actor does the verb.
Who/What does the verb? 
  • If the answer is clear, the sentence is active. 
Note that often, there is a direct object (DO) 'receiving' the action.
 
Part of speech
Subject
Verb

Sentence
The students
tested
the samples.

The samples
failed.



Who/What is the verb done to? This is the direct object.

Part of speech
Subject
Verb
Direct Object
Sentence
The students
tested
the samples.


Where possible, use the active voice. It is direct, brief, and easy to understand.
The passive voice places the emphasis on the action rather than the actor. The direct object is placed before the verb, which is given in the passive form. The subject, or actor, is usually not mentioned.


Example: The samples were tested.

Formation of the passive

The passive can use any tense of the verb to be + a past participle

Subject
Any tense of the verb to be +
A past participle
The load/s
is/are
was/were
calculated.
The report/s
has been
have been
presented.

The sample/s
will be
can be
tested.


The result/s
is/are being
(should) have been
(could) have been

compared







Changing passive to active

To spot passive sentences, look for a form of the verb to be in your sentence, with the actor either missing or introduced after the verb using the word "by":
  • Genetic information is encoded by DNA.
  • The possibility of cold fusion has been examined for many years.

Try turning each passive sentence you find into an active one. Start your new sentence with the actor. Sometimes you may find that need to do some extra research or thinking to figure out who the actor should be! You will likely find that your new sentence is stronger, shorter, and more precise:

  • DNA encodes genetic information.
  • Physicists have examined the possibility of cold fusion for many years.

(found at http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/style-and-editing/passive-voice; accessed 2012/04)

Changing active to passive

Example of active voice

Part of speech
Subject
Verb
Object

Sentence
The group
will present
the report
next week.


STEP 1: move the object to the subject position
  • The report ...

STEP 2: change the verb to the passive, making sure that BE takes the same tense as the verb in the active sentence
  • The report will be presented ...

STEP 3: drop the subject
  • Example of passive voice without the subject: The report will be presented next week.

or move it to a position after the verb
  • Example of passive voice with the subject: The report will be presented by the group next week.





Verbs that can't be used in the passive


Most verbs can be changed from the active to the passive.

Active voice: We tested the samples. > Passive voice: The samples were tested.

If the verb can be followed by a direct object (a direct object answers the question who or what after the verb) it can be made passive.

Part of speech

Verb
Direct object
Sentence

These difficulties
may delay
the completion of the project.


But the verb occur, for example, cannot take a direct object.

Part of speech

Verb
Indirect object
Sentence

A solution

occurred

to him.

This cannot be transformed to the passive since there is no direct object to become the subject.

Some verbs that can be used only in the active are: occur, rise, happen, arise, fall, exist, consist (of), depend (on),  result (from).

Active and passive verbs

Active (correct)
Passive (incorrect)
Problems may
occur
happen
arise
exist
Problems may be
occurred
happened
arisen
existed
They
consist of
depend on
They are

consist of
depend on
Note: 'They are dependent on . . .' is correct since 'dependent' is an adjective.

A special case:

Part of speech
Subject
Verb
Object
Sentence
They
lack
resources.

Lack can take a direct object but cannot be transformed to the passive: Resources are lacked (incorrect). However, you could write: Resources are lacking.


Concern and involve

Concerned about means 'worried about'.  Concerned with means 'involved in'. The passive voice can be used with both meanings. Whether or not they can be used in the passive depends on the meaning.

To involve has three meanings:
  1. To participate, to take part
  2. To include
  3. To require

Only the first meaning, to participate, to take part can be used in the passive form.
  • This week, students are involved in lab work.

The active voice must be used with the second meaning, to include.
  • Example: He often involves his students in his research.

The active voice must also be used with the third meaning, to require.
  • Example: The project involves buying new software.



- Updated by Vince on Sat 20 Aug 2016