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Essential for Growing a Small Business



More people are putting up small businesses, and while they give the economy a boost, they present many challenges to the business owners. They compete with more established larger enterprises, facing competition from other small businesses.

Therefore, they should have an edge, something that will set them apart from others. Small businesses generate plenty of data daily, such as inputs from sensors, IoT devices, text files, emails, and weblogs. These different forms of raw data provide valuable business intelligence. Click here to get help in storing and sorting these data files with a data management tool.

Another solution is business automation, which can streamline your business processes and give you more time to concentrate on growing your business.

What is small business automation?

Automation means using modern technology in place of manual work. Most business processes are repetitive and time-consuming. Instead of focusing on critical tasks requiring employees’ skills, they spend more time completing tasks that business apps can automate.

Unfortunately, many small businesses are not integrating automation into their process because they believe automation is for larger organizations. However, automation is more fitting for smaller firms because they have a limited workforce, and automating some of the routine tasks can help maximize the skills of their employees.

Reasons why you should automate your small business

Your small business has the potential to grow and succeed with automation. With the tedious details out of your hands, you and your employees can focus on vital tasks and services.

Automation will decrease your operating costs

You will find various business automation software specific to the tasks you want to automate. For example, you may want to automate your accounting system, inventory management, or HR process. Some are available on the cloud, so you do not have to pay upfront. In addition, you do not have to hire additional employees for data entry, minimizing your operating costs.

It minimizes human error

Business automation reduces the number of errors a human can commit in data entry. Integrated systems use only one source of information, ensuring that the data is consistent across the entire process. Automation ensures accuracy, which is crucial in your financial and corporate reports.

It supports remote working conditions

In a traditional office setting, work teams should be in the same location to get things done. With automation, they can complete their tasks wherever they are and communicate and collaborate faster.  

It improves employee satisfaction

You hire employees for their skills and experience, but if you saddle them with boring and repetitive tasks, your employees will feel disgruntled and lower their productivity. You can maximize employee potential and raise their productivity level when they are satisfied. They will have the incentive to stay and use their skills to help grow your company.

Automation increases your business efficiency because the program can work continuously. Further, the digital solution does not get distracted and is more productive. Ensure that you find a vendor that offers a robust automation solution you can integrate quickly with your existing system.

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3 Questions About AI in Content: What? So What? Now What?



3 Questions About AI in Content: What? So What? Now What?

In the United States, Thanksgiving will give us the needed break to take a collective breath.

I don’t know about you, but getting my bearings around the disruptions of generative AI presents an extreme challenge. Innovations come so quickly that once we think we have our arms around it, something new appears.

Almost one year into seeing what generative AI can do for content creation and marketing strategies, OpenAI has introduced custom GPTs for those who pay for access.

You can build custom ChatGPT applications to use the tool’s newest capabilities to do things specifically valuable to you. For example, your company could upload 10 years of blog articles and instruct the custom GPT to use the knowledge gained from the content to formulate answers to questions on the blogs’ topics. In theory, you get the depth and breadth of ChatGPT’s large language learning model focused on your knowledge base and able to take specific actions, such as sending an email or automating a task.

Impressive. But sheesh. What does that do to your plans to integrate tools into your marketing workflow? It seems like one of a hundred things that you’re supposed to pay attention to right now.

Time to reflect

If your time frees up this week either because of the holiday or because the Americans are on holiday, take a moment and reflect on these disruptions to your current marketing and content efforts.

A little more than 20 years ago, a nursing professor at Swansea University published a helpful framework for self-reflection and communication. His exercise has helped me in times of disruption, and perhaps it can be for you as well.

Answer a few questions that fall into three stages – what, so what, and now what?

  • What? Describe what has happened simply and objectively – without judgment or interpretation. Some helpful prompts: What happened? What did you observe? What events occurred? What is the current situation?
  • So what? Answer questions about what you know now that you didn’t know. You can introduce emotions. Some helpful prompts: What did you learn? What difference have the events made? Answer as yourself or within the context of your team or company.

    If it’s just you, potential questions could be: Did what happened clarify an interest? Did you hear or feel anything that surprised you? How is your experience different than what you expected? What do these events mean to you?

    If you answer on behalf of a team or group, you can ask the self-questions along with these prompts: What do these events suggest to you about this group? How might the group work better or worse with these events? How were decisions made or not made based on these events?

  • Now what? Reflect on your future actions based on the first two steps. These broader implications react to what happened. Questions center on defining and looking at the root cause: What would contribute to a successful response? What would be in the way of successfully navigating through this? What learning has now occurred, and how can I/we apply this learning?    

Ask your team to do this same exercise. When you meet back up, create a workshop or team gathering where you discuss the answers and determine where opportunities may exist.

Real reflections aren’t hot takes

If you find yourself thinking that process is basic, well, you’re right. These three questions – and the provocations that come from them – mirror a progression you’ve all tried to work through a problem. However, you don’t often do it for big disruptions in the moment. It’s just too easy to jump to the third step, “now what,” and confuse it with “what’s next.” You get overwhelmed by all the actions you can take.

You can see this challenge happening with the disruption of generative AI.

Check out this article that reflects on the disruption of generative AI in the video game industry. To make the case, it leverages Bain & Company research that “more than half of video game development process will be supported by generative AI within the next five to 10 years.” It uses “what happened” to make a case for “what’s next.” The author didn’t even bother to ask “so what” to reach the conclusion: “Microsoft wants AI to solve problems that game makers say they won’t actually have.”

If you reflect on what the Bain research actually said, you can see it’s almost the opposite of the Microsoft conclusion. The research plainly says few executives believe AI will reduce development costs. They say AI will not significantly impact talent and “do not believe it will replace the creative spark necessary for game development.”

By misinterpreting what happened and not asking, “So what,” the author jumped to predicting what’s next, which is almost useless to make any productive change to address what’s really happening.    

This is why working through this process is helpful.

Now, to be clear, hot takes are fun. I’m not suggesting you do away with predictions or the occasional response. Hot takes are a great way to start the conversation, not to finish them.

Take the time – and the process – to work it out. It’s not perfect. It’s also not meant to be a fail-safe way to predict the future. The three-question stages are meant to help you balance facts and feelings to make more productive and satisfying responses to the disruptions you face.

The process is meant to change your future, not by helping you see it more clearly but by helping you clearly see how you change it.

It’s your story. Have a wonderful, reflective Thanksgiving, and tell it well.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Whiteboard Friday Recap 2023: AI Edition



Whiteboard Friday Recap 2023: AI Edition

The topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT has dominated headlines over the past year. With the widespread adoption of ChatGPT, a chatbot from OpenAI that has reportedly reached 100 million weekly active users recently, there is no doubt that this level of adoption is drastically altering the way the online world functions.

So how does this impact the search industry? Is AI going to take our jobs? Will AI change the roles of digital marketers and SEOs? Are traditional search engines a thing of the past? How will AI chatbots in search impact the search results? Will the generation of content through AI result in piles of inaccurate and low-quality information on the web?

In the last 12 months, our expert Whiteboard Friday presenters covered the challenges and pitfalls SEOs face in this new world, from implications in the search engine results to content strategies to using chatbots to improve efficiencies in day-to-day SEO tasks. So take a seat with a nice hot cuppa and learn about how to overcome those challenges and pitfalls so you, too, can embrace this new way of working.

Let’s take a look back at our AI-related Whiteboard Fridays.

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Making the Most of Electronic Resumes (Pro Tips and Tricks)



Making the Most of Electronic Resumes (Pro Tips and Tricks)

I’ve submitted hundreds of electronic resumes throughout my career. These digital job applications hold so much weight in the job search process. It’s always nerve-wracking to make sure I’m doing everything right.

I always ask myself: Does this meet the submission requirements? Did I use the right font? Will my resume surpass the employer’s applicant tracking system (ATS)?

→ Download Now: 12 Resume Templates [Free Download]

If you’ve also wanted to ensure you have the highest chance of standing out and securing an interview, here’s how to make the most of electronic resumes.

Table of Contents

What is an electronic resume?

An electronic resume is any resume that’s submitted online. Employers will request electronic resumes in plain text (ASCII), HTML, or PDF.

This helps applicant tracking systems (ATSs) easily scan and decipher the hundreds of resumes they receive. To meet these standards, electronic resumes are typically created with limited design or formatting.

The Benefits of Electronic Resumes

In my experience, electronic resumes helped me refine my approach to better position myself for a job. I found that I was more likely to land an interview when

I tailored my resume to the job posting, used simple fonts, and included keywords.

Here are a few benefits of using electronic resumes.

You’ll match the ATS.

Only 30% of resumes are accepted by applicant tracking systems (ATS). But when they’re done right, ATS-approved resumes yield successful results.

When I spoke to Rodolphe Dutel, the founder of remote job board Remotive, about his experience with electronic resumes, he shared with me an incredible story.

Early in his career, he was part of a batch of new hires at Google. Dutel later learned that his electronic resume was the sole reason he landed the role.

“It just so happened that I was one of two people that were not peer-recommended,” he recalls, “meaning that my resume actually got picked up by the ATS, and they decided to contact me.”

Dutel went on to work at Buffer, where he helped grow the team from 20 to 80 people as the director of operations before founding Remotive.

If you want to match a company’s ATS and ensure your resume gets scanned, use your electronic resume to make sure you’re presenting the right information for the job.

You can focus on content.

One of the very first resumes I created was, admittedly, over the top.

I used a chunky, bright-colored font for my name, followed by weirdly formatted experience and skills sections separated by vertical and horizontal lines.

I would show you what it looked like, but I’m pretty sure I deleted it out of sheer embarrassment.

I did all of this to hide the fact that I didn’t have much work experience yet.

Looking back, it probably would’ve been better to keep it simple and focus on writing a resume that showcased my strengths. Instead, I tried to hide my lack of experience.

This is where a simple electronic resume would help. When you’re required to submit a plain text, no-frills version of your resume, you’re forced to focus on the actual skills. Write about the results you’ve achieved and can bring to a new role.

Demonstrates your ability to follow instructions.

If a job application asks you to submit a plain text version of your resume, you can guarantee that Microsoft Word Doc resumes will immediately be discarded.

Making the Most of Electronic Resumes Pro Tips and Tricks

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Employers look for applicants who can demonstrate their ability to pay attention to details and follow instructions.

Your resume is the first impression you make on an employer. Use your electronic submission to stand out and start your interview process off on a positive note.

How to Make an Electronic Resume

To demonstrate how to make an electronic resume, I’m going to create one for myself for a specific job posting.

Here’s a job listing for a content writer at Orchard that aligns with my skills and experience:

1700835963 357 Making the Most of Electronic Resumes Pro Tips and Tricks

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Here’s how I would put together my electronic resume if I wanted to apply for this position.

1. Start with your contact information.

Your resume should start with the basics. Include your name, location (you can list this as “remote” if you’re seeking remote-only positions), and your email. You can also include your phone number.

Remember, the key to creating an electronic resume is to limit the formatting and design elements. Here’s how I’d format my contact information on my electronic resume (this isn’t my real contact information, of course):

Sam Lauron

Austin, TX, [email protected], (111) 222-3333

2. Mention your education.

If applicable, mention your education. This section typically includes the name of the school you went to, the type of degree you obtained, and any additional achievements you accomplished while in school.

Here’s how my education section would look for an electronic resume:

B.A. Mass Communication, Public Relations

Texas State University

3. Identify your target keywords.

To catch the attention of the ATS, it’s essential to use keywords that were mentioned in the job posting you’re applying to.

These keywords are what the ATS will scan for, so if your resume doesn’t mention any of the words from the job listing, it will automatically be discarded.

For example, if we take a look at the job listing for the content writer at Orchard, we can see keywords like “real estate,” “SEO best practices,” and “content strategy.”

1700835963 978 Making the Most of Electronic Resumes Pro Tips and Tricks

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Using that information, these are the keywords I’d target for the specific job posting at Orchard. Aim to incorporate these keywords throughout your resume.

Notice that I capitalized the beginning of each new keyword. This helps the ATS identify them as separate phrases.

Keywords: Content writer, Content strategy, SEO marketing, SEO best practices, Content marketing, Real estate

3. Highlight your skills.

With any resume you put together, it’s important to tailor it to the job you’re applying for. This includes adjusting your skills section to match the job listing if you want to increase your chances of the ATS picking up your resume.

Here’s an overview of what types of skills the role at Orchard is looking for:

1700835963 147 Making the Most of Electronic Resumes Pro Tips and Tricks

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Similar to the keywords, I can take language from this posting to generate skills I want to highlight.

Keep in mind that bullet points don’t often translate well in plain text. Instead, you can use a dash or asterisk. These are the skills I’d highlight on my electronic resume for this job.


– Content writing

– Search engine optimization (SEO)

– Real estate industry knowledge

– Homeownership

– Writing explainer content

– Updating and optimizing content

4. Describe your work experience.

Now, time for the work experience section. You’ll do the same thing for this section as you’ve done for the last few. Use language and keywords from the job posting to describe your own experience.

Here’s the job description for the content writer role at Orchard:

1700835963 633 Making the Most of Electronic Resumes Pro Tips and Tricks

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Here’s how I would translate my work experience to match the job listing. Like the skills section above, I used dashes instead of bullet points.

Work Experience:

– Write educational explainer content

– Update and optimize older articles to ensure accuracy, and improve quality and overall search rankings

– Conduct research for data-based articles

– Execute SEO best practices

Electronic Resume Tips

Based on my experience of creating an electronic resume, here are some of my tips for making the most of the digital format. I also asked Dutel for his suggested best practices.

Use keywords.

Including keywords that were mentioned in the job posting is essential.

These words and phrases are what the ATS will scan for, so if your resume doesn’t mention any of the words the system is looking for, it will be automatically discarded.

“For instance, if you’re applying to be a business analyst and the job description wants someone who is proficient with data, it is your job to understand that you’re going to have to include keywords such as VBA, Excel, and Gantt chart,” says Dutel.

While incorporating the right words and phrases is important, they have to make sense.

“Remember that an ATS is looking for keywords whereas humans are looking for [experiences] that make sense,” says Dutel.

“If you don’t have the ability to fit in the keywords in your work experience section, you can add a section at the bottom of your electronic resume for other skills and add the keywords that you think are interesting.”

Keep context in mind.

You don’t want to stuff your digital resume with keywords, as this will be obvious and unenjoyable for a recruiter to read.

Instead, your resume should be a balance of careful targeting and original content to appease both the robots and the humans who will be reviewing your resume.

“Your resume should reflect who you are as a professional and individual,” suggests Dutel. “You have to articulate your work accomplishments and your learnings in such a way that’s understandable and friendly to an ATS and understandable and friendly to HR.”

Remove formatting.

In my experience, the simpler the resume, the better.

Some applications require you to paste your resume into the application, and a resume that’s overly designed doesn’t translate the same way when it’s submitted electronically. Unless you save it as a PDF, your format won’t remain intact.

Use simple fonts for your electronic resume. Acceptable fonts to use include Times New Roman, Arial, or any other type of web-safe font. The reason for this is that some fonts are hard to read while others simply don’t transfer if you submit your resume as a Microsoft doc, for instance.

You should also remove vertical lines, bullet points, and bold and italicized fonts as these can all mess up your resume when it’s scanned by the ATS and decrease your chances of getting through to the next stage.

Follow a standard structure.

While you want to include keywords that match the job description, it’s also important to follow a standard structure that will be understood by both ATS and HR.

Dutel recommends following the STAR method to structure your electronic resume. The STAR method is an interview technique that helps you answer a question in four parts. The acronym stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

You can follow the same method when putting together your resume content.

Take a look at the job description and identify the skills you want to incorporate into your resume. Then, list those talking points in a similar way that you’d answer an interview question. Structuring your key points this way makes it easy for both robots and humans to follow along.

Another element of your electronic resume structure that should be standardized is the headings. Use standard headings like “work experience” or “skills” rather than trying to get creative.

The ATS is trained to pick up common phrases, so using less common words like “skillset” or “expertise” can impact whether or not your resume gets noticed.

Use a resume builder.

Staring at a blank page is intimidating. Instead of creating your electronic resume from scratch, use a resume builder or template to get started.

There are plenty of free resume builders available to job seekers. Some offer customizable templates, while others offer expert tips throughout the creation process.

Personally, my experience using HubSpot’s resume templates was seamless and fast. The template I used made it easy to stick to the common structure and acceptable format for electronic resumes while still being able to customize it to match my needs.

There are so many elements of the job searching and interviewing process that require a lot of time and preparation, but your electronic resume doesn’t have to be one of them.

By following these expert best practices, keeping your resume simple, and using professional resume templates, your electronic resume can be created and accepted in no time.

Getting Started

Electronic resumes don’t need to be daunting. This of them as a place where your work and skills can shine. Follow the steps above, and you’ll get noticed by both resume crawlers and humans.

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