Job searches being what they are, you’re inevitably doing a lot of writing along the way. There are cover letters and résumés to write/tweak, emails to compose, and thank you notes to send out.
During this process, however, many people get lazy.
The sheer volume of what they are trying to do makes it very tempting to cut corners and make assumptions, when in fact, this is the last thing that should happen.
It is more important than ever to pay special attention to every single facet of your writing as this is directly connected to your brand. How you write and what you write will reflect upon you and how others perceive you.
If you want to impress those with whom you are communicating, here are some quick tips to remember so that you become memorable:
1) Write to your audience. Knowing what your audience needs or motivates them are can become powerful ways to galvanize them to act on your behalf. Understand what their perspective is and build your messages accordingly.
2) Personalization makes the difference. If you are planning on sending a general email to a large group of people, beware of coming across as spam when there isn’t any attempt to build upon an existing relationship or try to start a new one. Take what you know about the person and add to it in your message to make them feel special and that you care about them. The more you can do that, the more people are impressed. Want to stand out? This is a great way to do it!
3) Be succinct. Everyone doesn’t appreciate a vague, rambling email. Be structured in your writing and that will help you get to the point. There’s a salutation, intro, body, close, and signature. Remember the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid!
4) Don’t be a taker; be a giver too. Many job seekers are so focused on what they want that they come across as users, when in fact, the easy solution is to offer something in return, no matter how minimal it might be. Train yourself to ask when writing someone: How can I help you? Or understand what your audience’s needs might be and find a way to provide a way to satisfy those needs. People remember generous experts. They forget people that are “gimmee, gimmee, gimmee” takers.
5) Promptness matters. If you say you are going to get back to them, don’t dither. Get it done. The more action-oriented you are, that more you convey that you have initiative and can get things done in a timely fashion. That can be hugely important in a job search which can again, cement the integrity of your brand. The magic “zone” for responding to people is 24-48 hours; after that, your important lead suddenly becomes a dead fish in the water: if it didn’t matter enough to you to make a concerted and immediate follow up effort on your end, it’s not going to matter to the other person.
6) Send meeting recaps as natural follow up mechanism. When I meet with someone, I take notes. I type them up into a short, concise recap and send it to the person with whom I met so we both have a common place of reference. This also gives you the opportunity to create action step reminders that you can use for future follow ups.
7) “Please” and “Thank You” go a long way. Basic common courtesies and manners are becoming a forgotten art. Want to stand out? Be polite and always remember to use these two phrases.
8) Spell check everything. Don’t rely on software to catch your mistakes – you need to read and re-read what you’ve written to make sure you haven’t made errors in your writing.
9) CAPSLOCK scares people away. It’s like screaming. Do you scream normally when talking to people? Didn’t think so. Be courteous, and take it down a notch.
10) When writing emails, create a short email subject line. Even shorter than the 140-character limit on Twitter, email subject lines can make or break your communications, depending on what you say. Try to summarize your purpose for writing in the subject line to clarify your reason for contacting the person.
The more care you take with every bit of communication, the more you build up your personal brand among those you encounter as the polished professional that you truly are!*Photo By Suimasentyottohensyuushimasuyo (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons