Improving Your English Communication Skills


This is the note of this online course, Improving Your English Communication Skills on Coursera.


Table of Contents


Writing Professional Emails in English

Professional Email Basics

Subject Line

Description Examples
BRIEF 50 characters or less (5-7 words),
but the best subject lines for all the devices
(e.g., phones) would be
about 25-30 characters (3-5 words)
CLEAR include keywords and put important words
at the beginning
Introduction - Chris Chang
Introduction from Chris Chang

Job Application - Chris Chang
Job Applicant - Chris Chang

Meeting Request for Next Week
Requesting a Meeting Next Week
Meeting Request:Marketing Plan for New Product
Meeting Request: 11AM, May 10 in Room A

Making Announcements (put the action verb at the very start)
Join Us for Our Grand Opening
Join Us for Our Grand Opening on April 1st at 3:00 PM
Grand Opening on April 1st at 3:00 PM
Meet Our New CEO
Meet ABC’s New CEO (include the company name)
Try Our Newest Product
Try ABC’s Newest Product
DIRECT include the degree if you have
include the exact postioin if you know
Job Application - Chris Chang, Ph.D. (include the degree)
Senior Researcher - Chris Chang, Ph.D. (if know the exact position)
Senior Researcher, No. 1234 - Chris Chang, Ph.D.

Cancelled: Meeting for 11AM, May 10
Cancelling 11AM Meeting on May 10

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Greeting

Description Examples
Use titles that are gender nonspecific,
if you are not absolutely certain.
Dear Professor Lee
Dear Director Smith
If gender is the only information I have Dear Sir
Dear Madam
To Whom It May Concern
If you are addressing a group Dear Members of the Committee
Dear Marketing Group
Dear Sales Team

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Well-organised Main Text

  • If possible, keep the email texts to one or two paragraphs. Each is about 3 or 4 sentences long. Brief to the point.
  • Don’t complain or blame about the situation. Be self-blaming. Example:
    • Perhaps … (my order) was incomplete.
    • Perhaps I left something out … (of my package)
Structure Description Example
Introduction tell the reader who is the author
1) name +position/organisation
2) pronoun
1. My name is James Brown, and I am the general manager at Goods and Services, LLC.

2. I am delighted to inform you that we are now offering a 30% discount in our entire inventory.
Controlling Idea states the purpose of the email in detail
Development main body of the email Our company is glad to hear about your interest in our catalogue. We will send updated versions of our catalogues each month (answered how often will I be sending catalogues). The first section should be especially interesting to you since it has parts you were looking for. (what is the most important parts of our catalogue to our customers?) This is our most complete and updated version, so do not hesitate to contact us if you need new merchandise.
Conclusion Appreciation or Positive Wish Appreciation
1. Thank you for your interest in our company.
2. I appreciate your interest in our company.
3. I am glad about your interest in our company.

Positive Wish (e.g., hope, wish, look forward)
I hope you find our catelogs appropriate for your business.

It is also possible to combine a show of appreciation and positivity with the same conclusion.

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Add signature

First Name, Last Name
Add any contact information your reader will need to communicate with you.
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Organisation, Style and Editing Basics

Description Example
Use only the words needed Example:
[Simple Version] We often add adjectives and adverbs and filler words which are not necessary.

Very often when we write, we put lots of extra words, like adjectives and adverbs, which, when you really think about it, are very much unnecessary.
Don’t use passive voice, focus on precision. Example:
Powerful emails are written by people.
Peopel write powerful emails.

That book was written by my friend.
My friend wrote this book.
Words to avoid. must, should, demand, require, necessity

These are strong words and may seem harsh, or even rude to your reader.

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Punctuation and Capitalization

Description
Apostrophe ‘ If the ‘ is in a contraction, you should not put it in an email. (can’t, wouldn’t)
Exclamation point ! Almost never be used in a professional email. Don’t use more than 1 time.
Comma , Use commas for FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
When you use these words to connect two sentences.

I like tea, but he likes coffee.
Semicolon ; Series: Recent Olympic sites are Athens, Greece; Beijing, China; and London, UK.

Use a semicolon to join parts of a series, when some items in the series already include commas.
Quotation Marks “” Don’t use for emphasis (I would “really” like to meet you.)

Use for direct SPEECH only, he said, “I would really like to meet you.”
Emoticons DON’T use emoticons in professional emails (;))
Capitalisation People can be proper nouns:
The Pope - Pope Francis
The Queen - Queen Elizabeth
President Obama - The President

Do not confuse official titles with occupations,
coach Ellis
team owner Malcom Glazer
Here coach or team owner is the job, not the person’s title.

Don’t capitalise prepositions
Lord of the Rings
Exception: Capitalise prepositions at the beginning of the title

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Introduction Emails

You may be introducing yourself or two business contacts that you think would work well together.

Description
Subject Meet Sam Boyle (poor example)

Better examples:
Meet Sam Boyle, CPA Tax Specialist
Introducing Sam Boyle, CPA Tax Specialist
Body In the body of your email, state clearly who you are and what value you can add to the reader after you meet. The same goes with introducing two of your business contacts to each other.

How do you or your two contacts make a good match?
Example (state clearly what skills or abilities you have that wil work well for your reader. Why meeting you would be good for them.):
I am skilled at …
These skills will be good for …
I am especially skilled at (communication and time management).
My skills include Microsoft Office, managing schedules, and communicating in Spanish.

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Yourself

Examples
Introduction My name is Gerry Landers, and I am with the Georgia Tech Language Institute in Atlanta, GA.

My name is Elizabeth Brown, and I am the General Manager at ABC, Inc.

My name is Sam Cook, and I recently received my Master’s Degree from the University of ABC. (If you are not currently employed, you can say that you are a student, or you have graduated recently. If this is the case, you should include the name of the school and your degree or certificate.)
Controlling Idea
(state why you are introducing yourself to the reader)
I am interested in learning more about Coursera, and I would like more information about creating an online course.

I am very interested in your product. I will be in your city, and I would like to visit your factory.
Development
In this situation, these would be some WH questions I would have for the reader.
Who can create an online course?
What is the process?
Where can I get more information?

You can choose to include the questions directly, or write more indirectly like this:
I would like more information or links you have to help me in my process.

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Connect Two People

The email you are introducing two people to each other.

Examples
Subject Line Since you know both sides, you can include their names like this:
Matt, meet Sarah. Sarah, meet Matt.
Matt, have you met Sarah?
Get to know Sarah.
Controlling Idea Matt, I would like to introduce you to Sarah.
Sarah, this is Matt. He is the person I told you about in our last meeting.
Development In the development, you will give more information about the person you are introducing. About their background, Current job or role, Additional contact information, However, if you just want the two parties to continue the conversation on their own, just providing them with the contact information is enough.

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Announcements Emails

Examples
Introduction The language institute is pleased to inform you that we now offer business Writing courses in the evening.

The ABC Company is opening a store near you.
Second Sentence If our daytime class schedule is not great for you, we will now be here in the evening to help you reach your English learning goals. Contact us at info@esl.gatech.edu to apply.

We will have a full selection of products from all over the world for you all at one store.

(The second sentence is a fuller explanation and has more details about the announcement.)
Types of Announcement Emails There are two types of announcement Emails,
1. Have general information (like the example above)
2. Have specific information (these emails are especially helpful when you need to give special directions or guidelines for the event, include who, what, when, where, why and other details.)

Example:
The language institute is pleased to inform you that we now offer business Writing courses in the evening. These are Basics in Writing for beginners and Professional Writing for advanced learners. All courses will be offered every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings from 6-9PM at our main building. So if our daytime class schedule is not great for you, we will now be here in the evening to help you reach our English learning goals. You can apply direcly online at esl.gatech.edu or contact one of our advisors at 404-894-2425 or info@esl.gatech.edu for more information. Our regular office hours are Monday to Friday from 8AM-5PM.
Finish Finish on a positive note, with words of appreciation and simple closing.

Add your signature.

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Request Emails

Description Example
Polite Request use PLEASE: the easiest way to
make your sentences sound polite
is by adding the word, please.
Please send me your resume.
Please meet me today at 3PM.
Please give me directions to your office.
Another way that you can make polite
requests is by using the questions
form with words such as
could and would.
Could you send me your resume?
Could you meet me today at 3PM?
Would you give me directions to your office?
If you want to be more polite, Could you please send me your resume?
Could you please meet me today at 3PM?
Would you please give me directions to your office?
use “Would you mind …?”
(the ing form - GERUND)
Would you mind sending me your resume?
Would you mind meeting me today at 3PM?
Would you mind giving me directions to your office?
Would like - is a polite way of
saying that you want something.
I would like to meet you at 3PM.
I would like the directions to your office.
Making 2nd Request use number 1. Please send me your resume.
2. Please include three references.
without using number,
use also (also before the verb)
Please send me your resume. Could you also include three references?
Could you met me today at 3PM? I would also like the directions to your office.
Need to add our thanks
or words of appreciation
Thank you. Sincere thanks. I appreciate it.

If you want to be more polite, add the reason:
Thank you for your NOUN.
Thank you for your time and effort.
Thank you for your interest in our company.
I appreciate your NOUN.
I appreciate your time and effort.
I appreciate your interest in our company.

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Apology Emails

Description Example
NOT sure of responsibility I am sorry if I am sorry if you did not receive the resume I sent.
I am sorry if I did not understand the directions correctly.
When we are 100% sure of
our responsibility
for a situation.
I am sorry that I am sorry that the correct file was not sent. I have included the correct file in this email.
I am sorry that our meeting for next week needs to be cancelled. Please check the new dates below at your convenience.
Apologies for small slip-ups or errors.
(small mistakes, require no more than a
few words to be described and corrected), typos, spelling or unimportant misunderstandings.
I am sorry about I am sorry about the confusion. I will send you a new document with the correct address shortly.
I am sorry about the inconvenience/delay.

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High/Low Context Communication

High Context Communication Low Context Communication
Straight forward, concise, efficient;
Much value is placed on Logic, facts and directness

In general, North America and western Europe are considered low context cultures.
Non-explicit and include more descriptive language.
Longer emails

The Middle East, Asia, Africa, South America
Low Context Writer —> High Context Reader High Context Writer —> Low Context Reader
Status & Identity need acknowledgement
Building a relationship is important
Efficiency & effectiveness is achieved through focusing on tasks
Direct questions are used for clarity

Example (Low Context Writer —> High Context Reader)
Original Email
Hey Chung,

How are you doing? I wanted to touch base with you about the meeting we had last week. You mentioned your boss might be interested in purchasing our new product, and I wanted to know if you talked with him about it. Let me know the latest news.

Talk to you soon,
Sally

Revised Email
Dear Mr. Kim, (the reader and the boss is more formal using Mr. with the last name, instead of first names)

How are you? How is the weather in Seoul these days? It is getting very cold here in Atlanta. We even had our first snowfall yesterday. (the email starts off with a personalised introduction and the overall language is more indirect and polite)

I would like to discuss with you about the meeting we had last week. It was a very good meeting, and we were able to go over many important points. I remember that you mentioned your boss, Mr. Lee, maybe interested in purchasing our new product, and I would like to know if you had a chance to talk to him about it. Would you mind letting me know the latest news? I would really appreciate it.

Best regards,
Sally Hansen
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Age and Gender Consideration

DO DO NOT Gender
Use Respectful words, such as Mr. Ms. or Mrs, if you know the gender
Or use official titles if you knwo them
Do not use slang words If you don’t know enough about your readers’s culture, the best thing to do is keep things gender neutral by avoiding gender bias thoughts or expressions. If you don’t know the gender of your reader, always use greetings with titles rather than Mr. Ms. Mrs.

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Formal and Informal Expressions You Might Use in an Email

Type Formal Informal
Attachements Please find attached … I’have attached …
Kindly find tha attached … Here are the attachements.
Please receive the attached … Herewith attached is…
Please see the file named “…” in the following location.
Please see the enclosed file of … Attached is …
Bad news/Apologising I do apologise for … Sorry for …
I would like to apologise you for not being able to … Sorry to let you know that …
We regret to inform you that … Unfortunately, …
We do apologise for … Sorry for …
Please accept my apology for … I am sorry to let you know that …
Closing We are looking forward to … Looking forward to …
We do hope to hear from you soon. Hope to hear from you!
Yours/Yours sincerely Regards,/Best wishes
With best regards, with kind regards Cheers!
Best regards, Regards,/Best,/Thanks,
With best regards, Thanks/Best
Final Comments Thank you for your help. Thanks for your help.
I appreciate your help. Very kind of you to help me.
Do not hesitate to contact us again. If there is anything else, just let me know.
Please feel free to contact us again. Should you need something else, please let me know.
Please provide your response within 48 hours. Looking forward to receive your reply within 48 hours.
Please provide your response within 48 hours. Please reply not latter than …
Please let me know if you need any kind of further assistance. Feel free to contact me …
Good news You will be pleased to hear that … Good news.
I am pleased to anounce that … I want to share the good news!
We are able to confirm that … We can confirm that …
We would like to inform you that … Congratulations!
I am pleased to inform you that … I am happy to let you know that …
Offering help Would you like me to …? Do you want me to …
If you wish, I would be happy to … Shall I …
May I … Can I …
Please do not hesitate to ask me if you have … I am happy to help you …
Would you like me to/Do you wish me to … Could you please?
Previous contact With reference to your email sent (date) … Re your last email ..
Regarding to your email requesting for … In answer to your questions …
With regard to (or With reference to) Re …

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Speak English Professionally: In Person, Online & On the Phone

Small (Short) Talk & Conversational Vocabulary

How do you small talk?

Examples
Introduce yourself to someone new - Hello! I’m Jody. What’s your name?
- Oh hello! I’m Ben.

- Nice to meet you, Ben. (Once you have heard the other person’s name, say it.)
Make a Connection and ask some questions. - This is a great event, isn’t it? What brings you here?
- I’m here for work. And you?

- Me, too. What kind of work do you do? (you’ve made a connection. Here is the chance to learn a little bit more about the person. Find out what you have in common and keep the conversation going. Smile and keep your eyes on the person you are talking to.)



- What do you think about my new phone?
- WOW! It’s really great! I haven’t seen one of those yet.

- You are right. It is great!

Remember the more details you add to a conersation, the easier to keep it going. Don’t just answer yes or no.
Be a good listener and show your interest Find out what you and the other person have in common. Think of ways to extend the conversation.
End of a conversation Keep it going with a plan to see that person again.

- Have you tried that new restaurant across the street?
- No. But I have heard a lot about it. The chef is famous, and the food is delicious.

- I would really like to try it. Want to join me?

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  • Weather
    • Beautiful day, isn’t it?
    • Can you believe all of this rain we’ve been having?
    • It looks like it’s going to snow.
    • It sure would be nice to be in Hawaii right about now?
    • I hear they’re calling for thunderstorms all weekend.
    • We couldn’t ask for a nicer day, could we?
    • How about this weather?
    • Did you order this sunshine?
  • Current Events
    • Did you catch the news today?
    • Did you hear about that fire on Fourth Street?
    • What do you think about this transit strike?
    • I read in the paper today that the Sears Mall is closing.
    • I heard on the radio today that they are finally going to start building the new bridge.
    • How about those Reds? Do you think they’re going to win tonight?
  • At the Office
    • Looking forward to the weekend?
    • Have you worked here long?
    • I can’t believe how busy/quiet we are today, can you?
    • Has it been a long week?
    • You look like you could use a cup of coffee.
    • What do you think of the new computers?
  • At A Social event
    • So, how do you know Justin?
    • Have you tried the cabbage rolls that Sandy made?
    • Are you enjoying yourself?
    • It looks like you could use another drink.
    • Pretty nice place, huh?
    • I love your dress. Can I ask where you got it?
  • Out for A Walk
    • How old is your baby?
    • What is your puppy’s name?
    • The tulips are sure beautiful at this time of year, aren’t they?
    • How do you like the new park?
    • Nice day to be outside, isn’t?
  • Waiting Somewhere
    • I didn’t think it would be so busy today.
    • You look like you have got your hands full (with children or goods).
    • The bus must be running late today.
    • It looks like we are going to be here a while, huh?
    • I’ll have to remember not to come here on Mondays.
    • How long have you been waiting?

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Pronunciation

Word Stress

Stress 1 syllable in every word (Loudly, Higher and Longer)

  • Examples:
    • Chi(ca)go
    • (Streng)then
    • (Grand)mother
    • (Ja)nuary
    • Tech(no)logy
    • Uni(ver)sity

Sentence Stress

English Rhythm and Beat: o-weak, O-strong

(Note that: The last word is strongest and longest.)

beats Examples
2 He bought some jeans. (oOoO)
Can I borrow a pen?
I’m going to the bank.
Tell her I’ll be late.
3 He bought a pair of jeans.
Let’s go to a movie.
The pizza party is today.
Thanks for the birthday gift.
John studied for hours.
The key to the door is there.
I’m leaving on Monday for my country.
4 John studied four hours.

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Stress the Important Words (Content Words)

Content Words - they give us the meaning of a sentence.

Examples
Action verbs teach, talk, sing
Nouns names, computer, Atlanta
Adjectives green, big, interesting
Adverbs quickly, loudly, never
WH Questions words who, what, where, how
Negatives no, not, don’t, can’t

DON’T Stress Structure Words

We use them to construct our sentences. But they don’t carry a lot of meaning, and we don’t stress them.

Examples
Prepositions in, on, at
Pronouns it, she, he, you
Articles a, an, the
Modals can, should, would
Helping Verbs be, do, have

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Intonation

Rise $\nearrow$

You are asking a question and want yes or no for an answer.
Example:
Do you have the letter$\nearrow$?
Are you going to take a trip next year$\nearrow$?
Is your friend going to drive with us$\nearrow$?
Will the homework assignment take a lot of time$\nearrow$?
Can the consulate help you with your visa problem$\nearrow$?
Could you please give me your cell phone number$\nearrow$?
Would you like a piece of pie$\nearrow$?
Have you paid your rent this month$\nearrow$?
Will you be able to go to the game with us$\nearrow$?
Do you have any plans for the weekend$\nearrow$?

Rise and Fall $\nearrow \searrow$

Rise and fall, when you make a statement or ask an information question.
Example:
Summer weather in Atlanta is hot$\nearrow$ and humid$\searrow$.
What’s the weather like in your$\nearrow$ country$\searrow$?
I’m planning a vacation$\nearrow$ in Florida$\searrow$.
My friend is going to drive to New York$\nearrow$ with us$\searrow$.
The homework assignment won’t take much$\nearrow$ time$\searrow$.
The weather in my country is hot$\nearrow$ and humid$\searrow$.
My family hasn’t done much$\nearrow$ traveling$\searrow$.
Why do you want my phone$\nearrow$ number$\searrow$?
Where should I go for help with my visa$\nearrow$ problem$\searrow$?
What kind of desserts do you$\nearrow$ have$\searrow$?
Who are you going to the football game$\nearrow$ with$\searrow$?
When do you have to pay$\nearrow$ your rent$\searrow$?
How much will I pay for a good$\nearrow$ used car$\searrow$?
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Elevator Speech (Create Important Personal Connections)

A good elevator speech (easy to understand, friendly, energetic and natural):

  • Tell a story about you and make listeners want to learn more
  • Give facts about you (who you are and makes you someone they want to know)
  • Show why you are important to them
  • Lead to a future encounter/meeting
  • End with an opportunity to meet again. “I will contact you again soon.”

Tips:

  • Speak slowly: so your listeners understand you
  • Use Pauses or short stops: to highlight important information
  • Change Your Volume: speak louder and softer to emphasise important words or phrases it.
  • Body Language: use it to let listeners know that you are confident, enthusiastic, friendly, knowledgeable and organised.
  • Make Eye Contact and Stand Tall
  • Add Hand Gestures: to emphasise important points
  • Look Natural to Your Listeners

Example:
A: Hello, Mrs. Stephens, I am so happy to meet you. My name is Roosevelt and I have been working in the accounting department for about 2 years. I have studied new software applications and I think they’ll be great for us. I would love to introduce them to you.
B: I would like that. Why don’t you send me an email and we’ll set something up.
A:: I definitely will. Thanks so much. I look forward to going over these programs to help the company. Thanks and see you soon!

Sample Outline:
Brief Introduction
Hello, I’m so happy to meet you. My name is ().

2-3 sentences about what you do
I’m a ().
I work in () department/team/area/field.

2-3 sentences about how you are important to the listener
I have some idea about ().
I would love to introduce them to you./I would love to tell you about them.

Conclusion
Here’s my contact info.
I look forward to speaking with you again.
Thanks very much!
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Group Discussion Language

To Agree/Disagree

Examples
Ways to Agree Yes, I agree.
It looks good to me.
I think so, too.
I definitely agree.
Ways to Disagree I’m afraid I don’t agree.
I’m sorry, but I don’t agree.
That’s interesting. But I’d prefer something different.
Actually, I disagree.
Ways to tell others you think differently Actually, I have a different idea.
That’s possible, but I’d prefer something different.

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To Clarify

You would like the speaker to CLARIFY by repeating or explaining the information.

Examples
Ways to clarify info Excuse me, I didn’t hear that. Could you say it again?
Sorry, I missed what you just said. Could you repeat that please?
I’m sorry, could you explain that again?
Excuse me, could you tell me what that means?
Ways to say you understand Thanks, now I get it.
Thank you. It’s a lot clearer to me now.
Okay, I understand now.
Thank you for clarifying that.
Thanks, I see what you mean.

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To Restate What We Have Heard

Restating confirms that everyone in the discussion understands.
So does everyone understand now?

Ways to restate info:

  1. I understand. We’re going to discuss money first.
  2. I see. Our first-step is to look at how much money we have an dhow much money we can spend.

To Take A Turn

Ways to get your turn:

  1. Excuse me, can I say something here?
  2. Could I interrupt you for a minute?
  3. Sorry to interrupt, but I’d like to say something here.

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To Include Others

  1. So what do you think?
  2. Can you give me your thoughts on this?
  3. Do you agree?
  4. What’s your opinion?

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To Check Connection Issues

  1. Excuse me, can you still hear us?
  2. Excuse me, are we still connected?
  3. Is there a problem with your connection?

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To Leave a Meeting Politely

  1. I have to leave now for another appointment. I’m sorry.
  2. I’m very sorry. I’ll have to continue this discussion at a later date.
  3. Excuse me, something important has just come up, and I have to leave. I’ll be in touch very soon.

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To Show Interest

  1. That’s interesting.
  2. Really?
  3. I see.

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Video Conferencing

During the meeting:

  • Respect other participants
  • Watch how long you speak
  • Be sure everyone has a turn
  • Turn off your microphone when you are not talking
  • Remain attentive
  • Note the culture: In your culture, is it important to use formal titles: Mr. Ms. Dr. Sir etc. Or are people more informal and use first names in a meeting? (In most western cultures, using the first name is quite normal. But if you know that other person is not from this culture, it would be a good idea to find out how you should address them. When you really don’t know, the safest way may be to use Sir or Madam.)

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Telephone Language

Introduction

Examples
Conversation with (w/) new person, state:
Your name
Your position/title/role
Purpose of call.
If you already know the person, just your name and purpose will do.
Hello, this is Jerry Russell. I work at ABC Company, and I’m calling about my order.

Good morning. My name is Suzy Lee with Georgia Tech. I heard your presentation at the conference and would like to discuss it with you.

Hello, this is Olivia Moore from Dr. Brown’s office. I’m calling to confirm your appointment.

Hello, this is …, I’m calling with a question for you.

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Request

Hello, this is Jerry Russell. I work at ABC Company, and I’m calling about my order.

  • Could you please confirm the delivery date?
  • Could you give me more information about this?
  • Do you have a minute to review this?
  • Would you mind going over this with me?

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Ways to say YES

Questions Response
Could you please confirm …? Yes, I’d be happy to.
Could you give me more information about …? Certainly, what would you like to know?
Do you have a minute to …? Of course.
Would you mind going over this with me? Not at all.

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Ways to say NO

Questions Response
Could you please confirm …? I’m sorry, I’m unable to confirm at this time. I’ll get back with you as soon as I can.
Could you give me more information about …? Unfortunately, I’m not able to at this time. Could I call you back?
Do you have a minute to …? Sorry. I’m busy right now but will be happy to call you back.

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Ask for Clarification

  1. I’m sorry. I missed that. What did you just say?
  2. Excuse me. I didn’t catch what you said. Could you say it again please?
  3. Sorry. I’m not sure I understand. What does that mean?
  4. I’m sorry. I don’t quite understand what you mean. Can you explain it again?

Possible responses:

  • Oh, let me explain.
  • I’d be happy to.
  • Certainly, what I mean is …

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Ways to Close a Conversation

  • Thanks so much. I look forward to speaking with you again. Goodbye.
  • It’s been great talking to you. Thank you. Goodbye.
  • I’ve enjoyed this conversation and hope we’ll talk again soon. Goodbye.
  • It’s been great talking to you. Thank you. Goodbye.

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Key Pronunciation

Description
Can VS Can’t Can - short ‘a’
Can’t - stress ‘a’ (long), also can say ‘cannot’ rather than ‘can’t’
Teens VS Tens Thirteen - Thirty
Stress ‘teens’ on the 2nd syllable and ‘tens’ on the first.
Long Numbers Generally, use 2 number phrases:
6472: six thousand, four hundred and seventy-two
Year 1776: seventeen seventy-six
$59.99: fifty-nine ninety-nine
11:55 PM: eleven fifty-five PM

One of the easiest ways to avoid miscommunication is to simply repeat the number by saying one digit at a time.
My address is 1428 (fourteen twenty eight or one four two eight) Peachtree street.
Always use this for phone number: 555-2525, five five five, two five two five.

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Interview

Body Language

  • Standing/Sitting Tall
  • Smiling
  • Using hands expressively
  • Keep a positive tone of voice

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Pronunciation -ed Endings

-ed /t/ -ed /id/ -ed /d/
After Voiceless Sounds (No Vibration), except /t/ /id/ after /t/ or /d/ After voiced sounds, except /d/
I worked in sales. I acted independently. He always worried about his finances.
I helped coworkers. I invented an app. I called up the store and complained about the service.
I increased profits. I instructed my team. We turned in our work early.
I coached new employees. I expanded my store. She prepared reports, solved problems, and managed a team.
We laughed at all of his jokes. I exceeded my goals. He rearranged the schedule and confused the staff.
I locked the door. The university invited the speaker because many studnets are interested in the topic. We played all day and studied all night.
He looked at his watch. She was educated in the US and graduated from Georgia Tech.
She finished her exam early. They waited and waited until their friends’ plane landed.
He crashed into a pole when he lost control of his car. The teacher handed out the assignment.
She picked him up at the airport at ten. They located the items I had lost.
He was embarrassed when he slipped and fell. I predicted I would win.

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Pronunciation -s Endings

-s/es /s/ -s/es /z/ -s/es /iz/
After voiceless sounds, except /s/ /ʃ/ /tʃ/ After voiced sounds, except /z/ /ʒ/ /dʒ/ After sibilant sounds, words ending with ‘s’ ‘z’ ‘sh’ ‘j’ ‘ch’ sounds
products
repeats
ads
commercials
shows
models
sells
keys
listens
pays
places
images
uses
changes
taxes
I score well on tests. I work on two teams. I am taking two programming classes.
I prepare weekly reports. My day begins early and ends late. I like challenges.
My design looks good. My software solves problems. John raises horses on his farm.
I have many duties. The clothes in that store are really expensive. He rarely finishes an exam in one hour.
She often compliments her employees. She throws out all her magazines every month. He always changes his mind.
He hopes his luck will change soon. John saves his money. My taxes increase and my insurance rises every year.
My friend usually meets me after work. She feels like relaxing all weekend. He washes the dishes every evening.
She laughs at all of his jokes. Susan drives her friends crazy. Hugs and kisses are typical greetings in many countries.
We spent six months on this project. The feathres in her hat got wet.
He writes his parents every two weeks.

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Interview Questions

Most interviews feature three categories or types of questions about:

Categories
Your ability - What is your greatest strength?
- What are your best skills?
- What qualifications do you have that would make you successful here?
To answer these questions, you must learn as much as you can about the organisation that you are applying to.
Your willingness
How much you want to work with the company.
- What kind of student were you?
- Describe a very successful project you completed in your current job.
- How do you handle problems and setbacks?
Your personal experience is key. TIP: Show you work hard, and you don’t give up easily.
How well you will fit in with the new job and organisation - What’s important to you in your work situation?
- Do you think you’re a natural leader?
- How do you adjust to new situations?
Knowing about the organization and the job will help you answer these questions in the most positive way.

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Interview Examples

Some of the examples are from here.

Question
What’s your greatest strength? I’m very organized. And that’s important in every job. But for this position, I think my greatest strength is communication. I know I’ll be working with new customers … (give a direct answer and refer to the actual job.)
How do you handle setbacks? I’d like to answer that question with a story. I worked on a project before… (tell a story to catch their attention and share a personal experience about you.)
Do you think you are a natural leader? I’m a leader. But I don’t think I’m a natural at it. I have learned to be a leader, however. For example, last year … (A negative can become a positive.)
What are your weaknesses? Handle it by minimizing your weakness and emphasizing your strengths. Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on professional traits: “I am always working on improving my communication skills to be a more effective presenter. I recently joined Toastmasters, which I find very helpful.”
Why should we hire you? Answer “Why should we hire you?” by summarizing your experiences: “With five years’ experience working in the financial industry and my proven record of saving the company money, I could make a big difference in your company. I’m confident I would be a great addition to your team.”
Why do you want to work here? By asking you, “Why do you want to work here?” the interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you’ve given this some thought and are not sending out resumes just because there is an opening. For example, “I’ve selected key companies whose mission statements are in line with my values, where I know I could be excited about what the company does, and this company is very high on my list of desirable choices.”
What are your goals? When you’re asked, “What are your goals?” sometimes it’s best to talk about short-term and intermediate goals rather than locking yourself into the distant future. For example, “My immediate goal is to get a job in a growth-oriented company. My long-term goal will depend on where the company goes. I hope to eventually grow into a position of responsibility.”
Why did you leave (or why are you leaving) your job? If an interviewer asks, “Why did you leave (or why are you leaving) your job?” and you’re unemployed, state your reason for leaving in a positive context: “I managed to survive two rounds of corporate downsizing, but the third round was a 20% reduction in the workforce, which included me.”
If you are employed, focus on what you want in your next job “After two years, I made the decision to look for a company that is team-focused, where I can add my experience.”
When were you most satisfied in your job? The interviewer who asks, “When were you most satisfied in your job?” wants to know what motivates you. If you can relate an example of a job or project when you were excited, the interviewer will get an idea of your preferences. “I was very satisfied in my last job, because I worked directly with the customers and their problems; that is an important part of the job for me.”
What can you do for us that other candidates can’t? Emphasize what makes you unique when you’re asked, “What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?”. This will take an assessment of your experiences, skills and traits. Summarize concisely: “I have a unique combination of strong technical skills, and the ability to build strong customer relationships. This allows me to use my knowledge and break down information to be more user-friendly.”
What are three positive things your last boss would say about you? It’s time to pull out your old performance appraisals and boss’s quotes to answer the question, “What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?”. This is a great way to brag about yourself through someone else’s words: “My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had. He knows he can rely on me, and he likes my sense of humor.”
What salary are you seeking? When you’re asked, “What salary are you seeking?” it is to your advantage if the employer tells you the range first. Prepare by knowing the going rate in your area, and your bottom line or walk-away point. One possible answer would be: “I am sure when the time comes, we can agree on a reasonable amount. In what range do you typically pay someone with my background?”
If you were an animal, which one would you want to be? Don’t be alarmed if you’re asked, “If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?” Interviewers use this type of psychological question to see if you can think quickly. If you answer “a bunny,” you will make a soft, passive impression. If you answer “a lion,” you will be seen as aggressive. What type of personality would it take to get the job done? What impression do you want to make?
Questions you can ask the company? I read on your website about your (upcoming new product). Could you tell me a little more about it?
What are some characteristics of your most successful employees?
What can I do next to get this position?

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Presentations

Introduction (Tell what you are going to say)

Your audience should know what the product is and what they are going to learn about. Most of all, they should feel connected to you and want to know more.
Have Visuals photos
graphs
Numbers that will help your audience connect to you and your product.
Preview product clearly How will it be good for the audience
be direct
use active language and state clearly what you have to offer.

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Tell more (Body)

This is the time for details, talk about your product or service so your audience understands how they can use it, and why it is important for them.

  • what does the product do?
  • how does the product work?
  • why is it value?
Keep your language direct and clear, as you move from one point to the next. Use words like first, second, third, next and finally.
For each point you make about your product, provide evidence. Fact & figures (numbers)
Quotes from customers (testimonials)
Stories about your product to prove how great your product is.

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Tell it again (Conclusion)

  • Repeat your main points, tell your audience again what your product is and why they want it.
  • This is your last chance to secure interest.
  • Give them a reason to stay connected with you

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Prefect your pronunciation

Related Sections:

More guidelines to help you to decide which syllable to stress:

Examples
Regular compound nouns
a combination of two words
1 word: basketball, network
2+ words: driver’s license, coffee cup
Compound proper nouns (names of a person, place, thing.)
Georgia Tech
Delta Airlines
Ner York City
Martin Luther King
The Golden Gate Bridge

Compound proper nouns receive stress on the last segment. The stress is always on the last word.
Nouns and Verbs that Look the Same He records his speeches.
I keep a record of all the money I spend.

I will present my speech next week.
My friendsgave me a present on my birthday.

Stress the first syllable in the nouns, and the second syllable in the verbs.
Suffixes
group of letters at the end of a word that changes the word form.
Many suffixes do not change the stress of the word, as in the following (-ness -ful -ment -r/er/or):
Stress remains the same
Happy happiness
Power powerful
Require requirement
Employ employer
However, the following suffixes do change word stress (-ity -ion -ic -ical -ian):
major + ity = majority
Educate + ion = education
economy + ic = economic
mechanism + ical = mechanical
electric + ian = electrician

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Exercise:
Stress One and Two Word Compound Nouns on the 1st Word

air conditioner apartment building baseball bedroom breakdown candy bar
database daydream driver’s license earrings father-in-law football
handout highway household keyboard lipstick makeup
pancake password police officer reality show sailboat seatbelt
summertime sweatshirt sunrise thunderstorm toothpaste T-shirt
airplane automobile bathroom birthday breakfast can opener
daycare department store driver’s test earthquake fingernail frenchfries
headache homework housewife language school liquor store master’s degree
paperback peanuts popcorn redhead seashells security guard
sunglasses sweatpants sunset toenail townhouse vacuum cleaner
airfare bachelor’s degree beach ball bookstore breakup cell phone
deadline dining room driveway eyebrows firefighter friendship
headline homesick ice cream laptop living room men’s room
parking lot peanut butter post office restroom seashore shoe store
sunscreen swimming pool sunshine toothache toy store voicemail
airport backpack beach towel boyfriend bus stop checkbook
debit card dishwasher drugstore eyelashes flashlight frying pan
high school hotdog internet layoff lunchroom microwave
passport phone call raincoat rock concert seasick shopping mall
supermarket swimsuit teammate tooth brush truck driver volleyball
checking account chewing gum cockroach coffee maker credit card wintertime
gas station golf ball grandmother haircut hamburger weekend
mother-in-law movie theater neighborhood nightmare notebook watchman
sit-ups snowstorm softball software stoplight washing machine
wash cloth watchdog website White House women’s room soccer ball
cheesecake classmate coffee cup copy machine soft drink stomach ache
girlfriend grandfather grocery store hairdresser six-pack nighttime
motorcycle necklace newspaper

Stress Proper Nouns (Names) of Two+ Words on the Last Word
I’m leaving for New York tomorrow.
I’m leaving for New York City tomorrow.
Professor Jones is a popular teacher.
Georgia Tech is a tough university to get into.
Los Angeles is larger than San Diego.
Arabic is a common language in the Middle East.

Stress Similar Nouns and Verbs Differently. Stress Nouns on the First and Verbs on the Second Syllable:

Nouns Verbs
CONduct conDUCT
PROduce proDUCE
CONtract conTRACT
PROgress proGRESS
DEsert deSERT
PROject proJECT
OBject obJECT
PERmit perMIT
SUSpect susPECT
PREsent preSENT
UPset upSET

Many nouns/adjectives and verbs look almost alike, but nouns are one word and verbs are two words. Stress Two-Word Verbs (Compound Verbs) on the 2nd Word

Nouns Verbs
BREAKdown break DOWN
MAKEup make UP
BREAKup break UP
PICKup pick UP
HANDout hand OUT
LAYoff lay OFF
HANGout hang OUT
TAKEout take OUT
HANGup hang UP
TAKEoff take OFF

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Build Your Professional ePortfolio in English

Headline (job title, select action verb and its object, purpose of action)

Job Title

Students often confuse fields of study and job titles.

Fields of Study Job Titles
In English, it normally take -ing or -ics ending, like Engineering and Mathematics.
In addition, some majors can also take the word science in the end, like Computer Science or Animal Science.
However, job titles normally take -ian, -ant, -er, -ist, like Mathematician, Consultant, Engineer or Biologist. Include your job title as the first work of the headline.

Action Verb (choose the correct action verb to describe what you do)

Creating creating/producing/designing/building/developing/preparing
Managing managing/supervising/overseeing
Teaching teaching/educating/training
Researching analyzing/examining and sometimes testing
Communicating communicating/conveying/inspiring
Helping serving/delivering
Recruiting (getting others to join you) recruiting/mobilizing

Choose the OBJECT of action verbs

Teacher: Teaching English as a Second Language (What does a teacher teach?)
Mechanical Engineer: Maintaining water treatment systems

Purpose of action (Ask why)

Why does Bob maintain water treatment systems?
To keep people healthy, to provide the cleanest water.
Why does Karen teach ESL?
To help international students.

Example:
Marketing Manager: Supervises ad campaigns to target the right customers
Mechanical Engineer: Maintaining water treatment systems to keep people healthy

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Write a summary about yourself

Introduction of yourself: 1-2 sentences containing what you do, your current goals and your unique qualities.

What you do (job title with experience) I am an accountant with 5 years of experience.
Goal I am seeking employment.
I am looking for new opportunities in the field.
For job: I am seeking employment or new opportunities in the field.
For showing our work and connecting: I am hoping you will look at my site and letting me know what you think.
For selling: I am hoping you’ll look at my products and think about purchasing one.
Combine I am an accountant with 5 years of experience, and I am seeking new opportunities in the field.

Template: I am a or an job title with years of experience and goal .
Qualities Qualities are normally expressed by using adjectives. To write this sentence, select two adjectives that best describe you.
Karen is a caring and dedicated professional.
I am a/an and professional.

We can choose adjectives from the categories below:
You are kind: kind/caring/compassionate
You work hard: committed/dedicated/responsible/motivated
You are honest: trustworthy/honest
You work well with others: cooperative
You can create things or ideas: creative/innovative
You can do the work: confident/self-assured/capable/assertive
You can communicate well: articulate/well-spoken

The rest of your summary is about your accomplishments or things you did. 2-3 sentences.

Examples:
Carpenter: I built custom kitchen cabinets.
Researcher: I composed a scientific article.

Creating created/produced/designed/built/developed/prepared
Researching researched/analysed/examined/tested
Teaching taught/educated/trained
Writing wrote/published/composed/authored
Presenting presented/delivered
Managing managed/supervised/oversaw
Working worked on/completed

To make sentences longer & descriptive add information about the client, the place, and the time.
I built custom kitchen cabinets for 12 clients.
I built custom kitchen cabinets for 12 clients in New York.
I built custom kitchen cabinets for 12 clients in New York in 2005.

Connect these sentences to the paragraph and make them sound more unified. You can add first, second, third or a transition words such as also, in addition, or finally.
First, I received the Dalton Stephens Scholarship for Excellence in biology in 2003. Additionally, I managed 8 people for DE Lab in San Diego in 2009. Finally, I restructured the lab for ABC Hospital in Boston in 2013.

Closing Sentence (sentence with additional skills (relevant to your expertise))
My skills include computer programming and web design.
I am skilled in computer programming and web design.
I am skilled in computer programming, web design, and Spanish (advanced).
For language skills, you can add your level: beginner, intermediate, advanced.

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Describe your work with captions

Examples
Captions are essentially one sentence that describes the images or videos showcasing your work. Start your caption with either, here is … or this is .. as the first words. Then, add what you are showcasing. It could be a presentation, speech, a project or product, or even a service. Also make the captions more descriptive by adding client, place and time.

I worte a research paper for the Journal of Chemistry/the Journal of Medicine/the Cancer Society/my engineering class/my engineering professor.

This is a presentation that I gave for the Rockdale County Board of Education in Atlanta in 2009.

Caption of an image: here is a dining table that I created for the Boer family in Amsterdam in 2011.

Here is a brochure that I designed/created.

They both include what you are showcasing, for whom your work is for, and the location and time of the event or product.

If you have more than one picture or video for your work, write in a plural form, as in, here are and these are.
Example:
Here are the brochures that I designed/created.
These are the lectures that I gave/presented.

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Describe your work with more details

Longer descriptions:

Description
Short paragraphs with Interesting characteristics about your work
Effectiveness
Personal reflection
Explanation + Client who and how did your work help?
In the last sentence, express positive feelings about your work Write about your feelings: I am + positive adjectives with -ed. (interested, excited, delighted.)
Avoid general words, use descriptive adjectives Try not to use general words such as good and nice. (these words talk about your opinion, but they can not be seen or felt in reality.)

Examples:
This website that I created is attractive and easy to use. It helped The ABC Company increase their number of visitors. I am thrilled about this website and its impact.

This dining table is durable and custom-designed. It helped the Boer family seat up to 20 guests for their 50th anniversary. I am excited about this table, and I am happy about the results.

Popular adjectives that you can add to talk about your work:

Examples
Projects comprehensive, effective, exhaustive, extensive, significant, strategic
Presentations interesting, compelling, engaging, motivational, educational, organised
Papers interesting, organised, well-researched, well-written
Experiments detailed, exhaustive, extensive, preliminary, promising, sophisticated, systematic
Videos action-packed, animated, compelling, engaging, fast-paced, interesting, motivational
Shape squared or boxed, triangular, circular, round, rounded or curved, deep, shallow, flat or two-dimensional
Size small, tiny, miniature or microscopic; large, massive or enormous; average or medium; thin or narrow; wide or broad
Time new, modern or contemporary; old, old-fashioned or ancient
Positive Feelings for Things exciting, bold, unique or original, easy-to-use
Properties of Materials smooth, hard, shiny, transparent (you can see through it), opaque (you can’t see through it), handmade or handcrafted

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Key language for your education section

Start with writing the name of your highest level of education (your degress(s), your school name, duration of program).

Up to high school level graduates, the word diploma is used more commonly.

Most education beyond that is to gain a degree (degree + field of study in your resume):

Degree Field of Study in Your Resume
Associate’s Degree in Landscaping Design
in Administrative Support
Bachelor’s Degree in World History
in Animal Science
Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
in Physics
Doctorate Degree in Spatial Geometry
in Botany

In some cases, people use abbreviations for the degree names:

Abbreviation
BA Bachelor of Arts
MBA Master of Business Administration
PhD Doctorate of Philosophy

Add where did you receive your education? (Name of university/college, City and Country)
Examples:
Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Master’s Degree in Computer Science. Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Hanoi, Vietnam

High School Diploma. Richmond High School, Richmond, USA (August 2000-May 2004)

Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture. Korea University, Seoul, South Korea (March 2010-February 2014)

Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture. Korea University, Seoul, South Korea (March 2016-Expected graduation, February 2020)

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Key language for your work experience

Include: job titles, organisation of employment, duration of employment and detailed list of tasks.

Template Example Details
Company Name
Job title (Duration of job)
- Your important task 1
- Your important task 2
- Your important task 3
ABC INC.
Senior Project Manager (May 2000-Jan 2013)
- Managed a team of 10 people
- Increased sales by 5%
- Restructured workflow for team projects

If you still have the job, use the ing form:
ABC INC.
Senior Project Manager (May 2000-present)
- Managing a team of 10 people
Choose your level of experience for your job title
- Inter, trainee (Electrical Engineering Intern/Trainee)
- Level above an intern, Entry Level, Junior, they mean
that you probably have education but not experience.
(Entry Level/Junior Software Developer)
- Senior, Principal, Lead
- Self-employed, Contract/Freelance Software Developer

Add accomplishments with action verbs
Use verbs that indicate change: changed, modified,
improved, increased, overhauled, reorganised, restructured, revamped, redesigned.

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Network with other professionals

Descriptions
Compliment Write positive adjectives such as amazing, awesome, impressive, great and nice.
Showing Interest When did you complete that?
How did you do it?
What did you use the make this?
Who… What… When… Where… Why… How…?
Write a Request Could you look at my work?
Would you like to view my ePorfolio?
Add words of thanks I would greatly appreciate your feedback.
Your feedback would be appreciated.
Connect to Get a Job Introduction + Your goal which in this case is to look for a job (you can use the first sentence of your ePortfolio summary)

Example:
I’m an IT manager with 10 years of experience, and I’m looking for a job.
… I am seeking employment.
… I am looking for a new job opportunity in (#Tokyo or #USA, add your desired location)
… I am exploring new career options.

Use hashtags # for your job title or area of interest. Using hashtags will increase the chances of your posts being viewed by more people.
Ask for specific information WH Questions
How do I get in touch with them?
What is the link for this job?

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