Now, I know many of you are writing as a vocation, but there are some of you perhaps who are also doing a little more writing than average, in hopes of getting called in for an interview or with a job offer. This column is for you. Many of these suggestions could also be applied towards book proposals and other “times to shine” I am sure.
Here is my list so far:
1) Proofread or hire/ask for another set of eyes. Typos can be humorous at times, but not when they make their way into a final draft landing in the hands of a hiring agent!
2) Strive for concise and clear thoughts. If you are wordy, leave extra time to edit, edit, edit!
3) Avoid jargon or clichés. It spares the HR agents having to read for the hundredth time that you are just like everyone else.
4) If you are not sure what a big word means, by all means, do not use it! It is not impressive to be incorrect! Also, even if you know what a big word means, do not try showing off and make the hiring crews dig out dictionaries, unless the job requires an extensive vocabulary and showing that you are well-read.
5) Make the fonts simple, straightforward, and consistent. You want the eyes to focus on what you have written, not on how fancy you can be.
6) The same goes for consistent and acceptable margins. It neither fools a grade school teacher nor a selecting official to have tiny margins to squeeze more on a page, or the converse, akin to what my brother did in school, wider margins and bigger fonts do not make it into a truly longer document that will dazzle the higher ups.
7) If there is a word limit, there is good reason. Conform to it and think of it as a true test of your skills!
8) Just like a good book, you want to make it a page turner not a snore fest. If you get creative or show unique skills and experience and define yourself on page 1, people will consider reading onward. If page 1 reads like everyone else’s, it is a toss-up.
9) Find a way to journal, vent, or otherwise grumble to get it out of your system. I opt for long emails to friends as catharsis. I tell them that when the job happens, they will receive a gift or two, or lots! It helps getting the negativity out so that you are focused and confident when writing resumes, cover letters, and email requests for more information.
10) Don’t forget to follow up and also to thank. Think of it as a short writing exercise that could very well make somebody’s day, and maybe, a few days down the road, make yours too.
With that said, I open up the comment section. Any suggestions?