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Archive for the ‘Jobs and CVs’ Category

Find a job and improve your career with effective Business English

23 Oct
Searching for a job? You’ll need an effective CV!

Today’s job market is extremely competitive and you need to give yourself an advantage when applying for jobs. The most important document you need is a really impressive CV, written in perfect English.

Robert Dennis, the founder of the Milan Business English Network, has published an online course that can help you speak and use English more effectively: Effective Business Communication in English. Section 7 of this course shows you, step by step, how to write a great CV and make a better impression when you apply for jobs.

Visit Robert’s online Academy now and sign up for the course!

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NetworkMilan welcomes Danielle Dalkie, mobile entrepreneur and PR /Social Media expert

12 Jul

We are delighted to introduce our first guest blogger, Danielle Dalkie, who has a fascinating background as a mobile payments entrepreneur and is currently planning a strategic move to Rome. In this article she talks about her experience in setting up Waspit, a social banking service, and how she plans to use her PR and social media skills in her new life in Italy.

Danielle on the Digital Mission Stand at ad:tech NYC Conference and Expo 2010

Ciao! I am really pleased to be writing for NetworkMilan.com – and I am looking forward to sharing some of my ideas and business experiences with you. I’m also really excited about coming to Italy! I am an Australian who grew up in New Zealand and for the past two years I have been living between London and New York. And now I am moving to Rome!

I am Co-Founder of a startup called Waspit, a social banking platform for students. More specifically, it combines traditional banking features with social platforms to create a more intuitive and enriched experience for users. In essence, Waspit is “Banking 2.0”, and I have been involved in product development (right from the conception of the company) and more recently realigning the product to suit the target market: I have also been doing some business development and I aided the company in raising its first round of venture funding in New York.Waspit is designed not only to provide all the latest banking capabilities including mobile payments, but to enable for the first time a dynamic communication between users, their friends and the merchant on how and where they choose to spend their money.

Waspit lets you plug in all your social media platforms into one place so that you no longer have to manually check-in on Facebook and foursquare or post separate reviews to Yelp, Twitter and your other networks.

Social banking for students

For the more traditional ‘bank-like’ transactions Waspit is accepted in-store and online anywhere MasterCard is accepted; cash can be withdrawn from most ATMs; and students can pay their bills using ACH (Automated Clearing House) or Billpay. The FDIC* insured account also has a traditional routing and account number so students can receive their wages and allowances.

In the social world, students can easily, securely and instantly send and receive money between friends via Facebook, Twitter or mobile phone. Making quick payments in store is as simple as tapping your mobile phone over any MasterCard PayPass terminal. Students can even use the iOS, Android or Facebook apps to split restaurant bills or request money from their parents.

My own background is in public relations and social media, however. I have been involved in developing and implementing customer acquisition strategies in the tech, digital and social sectors. My skills include traditional PR such as managing press releases, publicity, social media, online content, corporate events, conferences and creating brand awareness.

I also specialise in social marketing and developing viral strategies (including guerrilla marketing efforts), as well as many successful viral and online campaigns in the both the US and UK. In addition, I develop comprehensive campaigns which rely heavily on social media and social marketing.

Rome calling (Image: Trevi Fountain by Fod via Wikimedia Commons)

But the big news is… I am relocating to Rome this year and I am currently looking for a suitable position and some cool social media projects to work on (so please get in touch with me if you have something I might be interested in!)

I am also involved in setting up the Rome Business English Network – the first sister group of the Milan Business English Network to be based in another Italian city. (Visit Network Roma for all the latest news about events and networking for people speaking, learning and doing business in English in the eternal city.)

NetworkMilan.com have invited me to write a series of blog posts on how mobile commerce is changing the way we interact with companies and its wider implications for the digital economy. I hope you enjoy these articles and find them useful, too!Read Danielle Dalkie’s next guest post, coming soon on NetworkMilan.com:
Money in motion: how mobile payments technology is changing the face of retailClick here to find out more about Waspit and social banking.

*Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: A US federal agency that insures deposits in member banks.

UPDATE (AUGUST 2012): Danielle has recently founded Network Roma, a sister group of the Milan Business English Network. You can become part of Network Roma by joining their group on LinkedIn.

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Should you use formal or informal language in a job interview?

21 May

Formal or informal?

Getting the balance right between formality and informality when you have an interview can be quite tricky (difficult). In a recent discussion on the Milan Business English Network an MBEN member asked about this important topic: here’s his question – and my reply…

Dear all,

I have been selected for an interview in the Investment Banking sector. I have some doubts regarding the type of language to use during the interview. In fact, I believe that both the informal and the formal ones have their own specific advantages. First of all, speaking with a formal and technical language makes you more professional but you will probably make  a higher number of mistakes. Conversely, speaking informally is easier and maybe, in a motivational interview, you can better express your real motivation and your passion…

I actually don’t know the solution to this dilemma…

Let me know what do you think about!

Thanks

Here’s my reply:

First of all, congratulations on getting an interview! You’ve cleared the first hurdle (obstacle) to getting a job in investment banking. You’re right to now focus on your strategy for the interview and, in particular, getting the right “tone” for your language.

The whole question of formal / informal language is definitely a key factor in communicating successfully in a business context in English. I have to say that (as with CVs – see my reply regarding the difference between Italian and British / American CVs), there is one big cultural difference between the Italians and the Anglo-Saxons, which is especially true in job interview. This is, basically, that in business Italian people tend to be TOO FORMAL (certainly when you have to speak to someone from Britain or the States. In Italy, of course, it’s perfectly normal to be quite (or even very) formal in a business situation, particularly when you don’t know the other person (which, obviously, is usually the case when you go for a job interview at a large company)).

Being too formal in an Anglo-Saxon business interview is a mistake, and here’s why:

People in business in English-speaking countries are generally more informal and relaxed with people they don’t know. You don’t need to spend a long time establishing a personal relationship with a business counterpart in order to overcome the barrier of formality. While the British are slightly more formal than the Americans, it is still generally the case that in a business setting people try and get to an informal level of communication as soon as possible. Why? It’s simple: because it’s easier to do business with someone without a lot of unnecessary formality. Yes, we wear suits and shake hands. But you will find that pretty much as soon as you sit down with your interviewer and start talking, they will try to establish an informal, one-to-one style of communication.

The reason for spending valuable time (and money) interviewing candidates for a job is that you can only tell so much from someone’s CV: you need to meet them face-to-face and find out what they’re really like. (In fact, many companies nowadays, particularly in younger industries such as web marketing, have abandoned formal interviews completely, deeming (judging) them to be too conventional and artificial. Instead, they ask candidates to form teams and undertake a mini-project, assessing their interaction, leadership potential and problem-solving skills simply by shadowing them as they complete the task assigned.) Nevertheless, formal interviews (particularly in more conservative sectors, such as banking, are still the main way banks and other companies get to know their potential colleagues).

You are quite right to draw (make) a distinction between the specific, technical jargon required and the softer, more personal language you use (especially when you are describing your individual qualities, professional goals and relevant experience from both your professional and social lives). With regard to the technical terms of banking and finance, any weak areas in your knowledge or understanding will be probed (explored) and tested. However, in my 20 years’ experience of teaching people from a wide range of professional backgrounds – as well as graduates applying for their first position – I have to say that the technical area is usually people’s strongest point: having either worked in the finance sector – or having studied the complex theories and statistical / quantitative methods that are required in order to operate successfully in this field – this is not, generally, people’s main problem. (Another point here is that most of the technical financial jargon is used in English anyway and isn’t generally translated.)

The main problem is in finding suitable, natural language to talk about your previous experience; how to bring the bare facts of your CV to life; and to inspire and convince your interviewer that you are a dynamic, capable person who can not only meet the demands of the job, but can also work well alongside colleagues quite often from very diverse backgrounds and nationalities (particularly if you are applying for jobs in London or New York).

While it’s useful to learn the key phrases that you can use in your interview, (e.g. in order to explain why you want this job, or what you consider your strengths and weaknesses to be), the main thing to focus on is PRACTISING your speaking skills so it becomes natural and automatic for you to talk about yourself, your experience and the company (or bank) you have applied to.

Of course, the best way to do this is with a teacher who can explain to you the exact force of each expression and help you with your pronunciation and grammar. But you could also just practice with a friend, each taking it in turns to be the interviewer or the interviewee.

I hope you have found this reply useful. If anyone else has a question regarding jobs, interviews, formal and informal language – or any issue relating to Business English, please start a discussion on the Milan Business English Network. We will do our best to help you!

© Robert Dennis 2011

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Use your English to find work in Italy or abroad

05 May

When can you start?

Are you considering changing your job? Do you speak English?

If you answered “Yes!” twice, you may be interested in the answer to this question, which  appeared recently on the Milan Business English Network:

What is the best way to find a job in Italy (or abroad) using my English?

Here’s the reply:

That’s a great question! Being able to speak English is now considered a necessity for many posts in Italy – and not just in international firms: even small companies now expect candidates to be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of English, plus the ability to use the language effectively in a business context.

Here are a few ideas you may find useful:

Join the Milan Business English Network! (If you’ve already done that: Congratulations!) Don’t forget that we have a parallel group on Facebook, also called the Milan Business English Network.)

– Write your CV (Curriculum Vitae) in English. Have two versions – one in Italian and one in English.

– Practice doing job interviews in English. Have a look at some of the posts on this important topic in the Discussions section of the Milan Business English Network.

– Apply for jobs where English is a main focus for the job, or an essential skill. E.g. (for example) jobs where you deal with international clients or need to speak to people from other countries in English. These might include sales and marketing, project management, international recruitment, travel and tourism or financial services.

– Take a specialist business English course with a qualified teacher. Learn how to speak in meetings, write emails and do presentations. A number of teachers are members of our group. (Click here if you want to find a teacher now.) You can also check out (look at / examine) Kijiji.it and bakeca.it for experienced and qualified private business English teachers.

There are also a number of highly reputable specialist Business English schools in Milan. EASYBIZ, for example, offers tailored courses that can help you develop your English language and communication skills.

– Join groups on LinkedIn and other business social networking sites. Don’t just look at Italian sites – extend your reach to include European and world English-speaking business communities.

– Take a business-related English exam and gain a qualification you can include in your CV, e.g. the Cambridge Business English Certificate (BEC). Employers will also be impressed by a good IELTS or TOEFL score.

– Work abroad! Yes, Italy’s a great country :) but if you can speak English you increase substantially the number of job opportunities available to you.

Well, I hope you find these ideas useful. The key thing is to keep applying for jobs, don’t stop sending out CVs and join as many groups and mailing lists as you can. Registering with employment agencies (such as Adecco) and websites like Monster.co.uk are also great ways of highlighting your English language abilities and receiving offers of employment.

Good luck!

© Robert Dennis 2011

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How to get a job in the UK / US if you have an Italian law degree

27 Apr

Royal Courts of Justice, London

Question: As a student of law, I would like to know what can I do with my Italian legal degree in the UK or USA. What are the different opportunities?

Answer: Thanks for your question.Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you.
The good news is that your law degree will help you find a job in an English-speaking country, mainly because it’s a degree and employers prefer graduates. The bad news is that it will be very difficult (if not impossible, unless you retrain / convert your qualification) to practice as a lawyer in Britain or the US because the Anglo-Saxon countries use the common law system, not one based on Roman law (widely used throughout the EU).

One option might be to get a job in some capacity (e.g. as an administrator) with a UK / US law firm and then retrain once you have established yourself in your “new” country. (Although, considering the length of time Italian people tend to study for, you may decide that you have seen enough of libraries and would rather put your knowledge and skills into practice, rather than keep studying.)

You could find a job with a British / American or Italian company based abroad that does business with people in Italy and where a knowledge of Italian law is relevant, but it is not necessary to be trained as an English / American lawyer. For example, an international estate agent’s that handles the rent or sale of property in Italy to UK or US nationals. Other sectors could include import / export, tourism, insurance, healthcare or the art market, etc – areas where a knowledge of Italian law would be useful (or essential). (Other options might include areas involving Intellectual Property, Company Law and Finance, where you could advise foreign clients on the implications of setting up businesses, selling and investing in Italy.)

Click here to read this article in full on the Milan English blog.

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Useful (free) online resource: Example Job interview questions and answers from Docstoc.com

18 Apr

"Why do you want this job?"

Congratulations! You have applied for a job and now you are getting ready for that important job interview. Your English is excellent and you are looking forward to making a good impression on your future (hopefully) boss. Now, you need to make sure that you also have the right type of English for that job interview…

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What are the main differences between an Italian CV and a British / American one?

18 Apr

Mauro, a Milan Business English Network member, asked: Are there many difference between an Italian cv and an English one?

Thanks for your question, Mauro. There are lots of differences between writing a Curriculum Vitae in Italian and doing it in English.

Writing your CV in English

The most important difference is that in Italy, a curriculum vitae (usually abbreviated in English to CV, but never referred to as “a curriculum”) is usually much more formal and technical. (And that’s not just true of CVs, but of business documents in general.) While in Italian it is perfectly normal (and expected) to use lots of complicated, important-sounding words and abbreviations (without explaining what they mean), in the Anglo-Saxon world this is the kind of thing that makes it difficult (or impossible) to read your CV.

I think another important difference is that very few Italian people have a personal profile at the beginning of their CV. The personal profile is really your “USP” (Unique / Universal Selling Proposition). E.g. (for example), if you are engineer who has worked with other people on a lot of different projects and you can explain very technical information to your clients, you could write:

Resourceful engineering professional with significant experience of leading teams on successful projects. I can communicate complex information in a clear, simple way and build strong relationships with clients.

It’s often the case that other people applying for the same job have similar qualifications and professional backgrounds. What sets you apart (differentiates you) from other candidates, therefore, is your personal profile (and your covering letter).

There are lots of small differences, mainly due to the different education systems used in Italy, the UK and the US. Explaining what you have studied at university and the mark (nota) you received, for example, can be confusing to an Anglo-Saxon reader unfamiliar with scores out of 110, Italian expressions such as “con lode” (distinction) and in particular the whole question of what an “undergraduate thesis” (tesi di laurea) is. (In Britain and the US the word “thesis” (tesi) is only used in relation to post-graduate research (specifically, people who have been awarded a PhD, also known as doctorate, who have submitted a thesis, or doctoral dissertation). (This whole may be worth a later post to itself, by the way.)

Having helped thousands of people write a really effective CV and covering letter, I have to say that the main difference between an Italian Curriculum Vitae and an Anglo-Saxon one is that the British and Americans are far more assertive (not necessarily aggressive), but generally more focused and targeted than their Italian equivalents, which tend to be more general and (occasionally) slightly random. With a highly-competitive global marketplace for executive jobs, particularly in the banking and finance sector, as well as among large insurance and consultancy firms, you really need to design and execute your CV with “military” precision. When you write a CV you have one main objective, which is to get the interview. And while a good CV can get you in front of the person who will decide if you are what they are looking for, it’s really your performance in the interview that will determine whether or not you get the job

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