Defining something clearly for yourself helps you to own it – now you finally know why you had to write your vocabulary words in a sentence every week back in elementary school. When you own something, then you can repurpose it in whatever manner suits your current needs. A kitchen towel is meant to dry dishes (for the few of us who still do dishes by hand) or your hands but it can be used as a hot pad to set down a dish, an oven mitt in a pinch, a cover for bread when it is still new and pretty, or for a child it can be a superhero cape.
The ability to write clearly and convey your message in a manner suitable for your intended readers is a versatile tool. And a skill which can be developed, as long as you see the validity of writing’s importance in your work life.
We seem to have somehow convinced ourselves that writing is a talent that we either have or do not have – and there are certainly those for whom writing is a wonderful talent, writing is a skill and therefore learnable by anyone with an interest.
Job Search Writing
You can hire someone to write your resume and cover letter for you in the hope that these professionally written documents will give you an edge. But in the spirit of teaching a man to fish over giving him a fish, you will do yourself a greater favor if you tackle this task for yourself and show that you have written communication skills which are sought after in many businesses.
While your goal is a new job, it is very important to pay close attention each step in the process – difficulties at any step can end your path to the goal of that particular position. Sometimes job seekers focus too much on that prize and miss the pitfalls in the many steps between themselves and that job. Refocusing on the steps and tools in between will help to ensure success.
Fair or not, the personnel responsible for filling the position are looking for reasons to eliminate a candidate. While you have the job description from the ad, there are many components which are unspoken and possibly not clearly defined on their part. Telling yourself you will reach the goal of the job when there are these nebulous components between you and this goal makes this achievement more difficult. Focusing your attention on doing your best with each known component gives you more power to be ultimately successful.
RESUME: Your resume is a document that is meant to show your past achievements and career progression. Similar to any financial prospectus that you may have read, it has a disclaimer that all HR and hiring personnel see – past performance does not necessarily indicate future performance.
- Your resume is not intended to get you the job; it is one tool which is meant to get you the interview.
Your resume has just a few seconds to catch their attention and get you in the yes or maybe piles, so less information – which is tailored to the needs that they expressed in the ad – is more. If they have to sift through what is to them extraneous information that alone is a reason to put you in the no pile.
COVER LETTER: Your cover letter is a document that is meant to start the discussion for how you can marry your past performance to the future needs of this particular company.
- Your cover letter is not intended to get you the job; it is one tool which is meant to get you the interview.
This document is your first opportunity to underline your strengths and to downplay any requirements which could disqualify you. As an example, I do not have a degree so I highlight points that show that I am a life-long learner.
THANK YOU LETTER: Your thank you letter is a document that will be the last impression the interviewer has of you while they consider who to call back for the next round or who is the successful candidate. You want a strong showing.
- Your thank you letter might not get you the job, but poorly executed, it could be the last straw to eliminate you from the running. Properly executed it leaves a strong last impression.
Express your sincere appreciation for their time and consideration. If something came up in the interview that you can expand on, do it here.
It seems as if we are all looking for definitive rules for these documents, as if by following the rules to the letter will be a magic talisman to achieve our goal. It turns out that it just isn’t that simple, but like Dorothy we have had the solution with us all along. We learn our power when we are ready.
[A little self-promotion: I am setting myself up as a Business Writing Coach for individuals & companies – http://bareedwriting.com/]
© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations