Writing for Your Audience

Pen laying on a notebook

I read a post on Men with Pens that talked about how to keep the proper focus with copywriting, and there was so much in it that clicked with me in regard to résumé and cover letter writing.

Here’s an excerpt:

“…readers simply want information. They don’t care about the artistry. They aren’t looking for beauty. They just want to find out how to solve a problem or meet a need…

“… it should be crafted in such a way that the words disappear and the meaning shows through. I like to think of good copywriting as if it’s a toy store window: clean, polished, and invisible, providing a clear view of the wondrous goodies inside.”

That’s precisely the point of your cover letters and résumés — to convey information to your target audience (i.e. HR/hiring managers) that will cause them to realize that you are the solution to their problem, which will lead to them to call you for an interview.

And the comparison to a toy story window is just brilliant. Think of how children flock to those windows and imagine themselves playing with all the toys! If your cover letter and résumé are written such that hiring managers vividly see you and your talents (not the words on the page), they will have a much easier time picturing you as a part of their team.

At the end of the post, there were some tips on how to write good copy, many of them spot-on for how you should present yourself in writing to companies:

“Reach into the world other people live in.” Has the company you are targeting recently developed a new product? Have they recently been involved in a hostile takeover attempt? Are they experiencing growth in some areas and a decline in others? Make sure that you have a good grasp of the company’s current situation so you can speak intelligently about it and show how you can help them achieve their goals.

“Empathize with the feelings and beliefs of your readers.” What are the pain points your target company is experiencing? What values do they hold? You need to have a very good understanding of those two areas to be able to write cover letters and résumés that speak to what’s important to them. Further in this point, it said: “You have to feel what others feel to write copy that connects with them.” That definitely applies here!

“Be a quick study.” From the time that you learn of a lead for a job, the clock starts ticking. You won’t always have a lot of time to pull together your materials, but you’ve got to get it right. Even if you have a blog and are active in social media, your cover letter and résumé are still an important demonstration of your knowledge of your industry and the company. Put together a sharp presentation to increase the possibility of getting more time to strut your stuff!

“Always do your homework.” This goes back to reaching into their world. Analyze the job posting and job description for clues. Read the website for press releases and other information. While you wouldn’t put as much effort in this point now since you are just initially applying, you still want to do enough to show that you are a candidate who deserves serious consideration.

“Recover from mistakes and learn from them.” How many people do you know who landed a job with the first résumé they sent out? Exactly, not many. Knowing that, more than likely, you will face rejection in your job search, this is great advice. Don’t get into a downward cycle of negative talk, but rather, analyze what you could have done differently.

Because it can be challenging to determine this by yourself, enlist the help of a trusted friend or mentor who can help you pinpoint what you did well and what needs improvement. By taking this approach, you will be changing up your game a little every time you apply for a job. That’s far better than making the same mistakes over and over.

What do you do to write your cover letter and résumé in a way that resonates with the hiring manager?

Image courtesy of Markus Rödder

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