Nothing thrills me more than when I’m working with a client and they exclaim “Hold on. Let me write that down. That’s the perfect way to say that.” I love nailing something – whether it be with words or timing.
It isn’t that I have something special with words. I just listen carefully and intuitively. Then I share what I’ve heard. And that’s the simple formula that makes them say “Wow, that’s perfect.” It’s really just their words or concepts, tweaked a bit. And while verbally I can maneuver quickly, putting it all down on paper is much harder for me.
I’m an insecure writer and don’t have much confidence in my writing. Certain grammar rules make my brain get hazy. Punctuation and I aren’t the best of friends. I’ve come to appreciate my career’s communication thread, as I’ve studied natural aptitudes and their impact on career choice.
(For the record, I have a natural aptitudes convergence with vocabulary, sequential reasoning and inductive reasoning. I can organize information quickly and systematically and then express the main themes and ideas with little effort. Makes so much of my daily work just flow. Flow is satisfying to me.)
I never set out to have a career that would require me to write as much as I do, but writing does always seem to find me, even when I try to avoid it. Papers for college classes, responding to clients who need support, sharing feedback with a colleague, helping a client craft a cover letter that relays why they’re an ideal candidate, even if they aren’t a match on paper. I write to connect-the-dots.
During my first job out of college, I worked with a number of talented professionals, including some very smart writers. I admired how they translated our ideas onto paper – polished and complete. (Oh the irony – they were really great listeners). I just wanted to be a better writer. Not “a writer.” Just a decent writer who wouldn’t embarrass herself.
Get to the point quickly. Short sentences. Never use two words when one will do.
I decided to challenge myself to improve my writing skills. One of the most helpful classes was with the former writing coach of the Dallas Morning News, Paula LaRocque. Her book, The Book on Writing, changed my approach to business communications: Get to the point quickly. Short sentences. Never use two words when one will do.
I review a lot of resumes, cover letters, bios and LinkedIn profiles. And this article nails what is wrong with 90% of what I see. Please read it. It will improve your writing.
Let me relate it to the career stuff you and I talk about:
If your resume needs improvement – carefully read suggestion #2: Beware “the curse of knowledge.”
If your LinkedIn profile feels flat, heed suggestion #1: Be visual and conversational, will improve your story.
And if your cover letter is your obstacle, #3: “Don’t bury the lede” gives a much-needed perspective on why your cover letter falls flat. In other words, lead with your best stuff to grab attention.
I’m doing a webinar all about cover letters on Thursday, December 18. It won’t be a writing lesson, but I will share some fresh ideas for cover letters. Ideas that work. More info below…
I’m Stacey Lane: Confidence Builder. Networking Smarts. Resume Wordsmith. Personal Branding Strategist. Career Coach.
I help individuals with unique backgrounds find their perfect fit and effectively market themselves so they find work that is as interesting as they are.
Contact me to get started!
If your cover letter is the one things standing between you and an awesome job opportunity, check out my latest webinar on December 18.
Yes! You still need to send a cover letter along with your resume. But cover letter styles have dramatically changed and they no longer serve the purpose of formally introducing you to a potential employer.
Cover letters are now a powerful marketing tool that can give you a competitive advantage if you use them strategically. They’re an excellent way to connect-the-dots, in a way that your resume just can’t, between your experience and the potential employer’s needs.
Learn more and sign-up for this FREE webinar here.