Your Resume Cover Letter: It’s Not About YOU

Your Resume Cover Letter: It's Not About YOU

You’ve heard about a fantastic job, and you feel you’ve got as much chance of getting it as anyone else, so it’s time to write a resume cover letter.

You grit your teeth, because you’re determined to get it right. They’ll love you, and decide that you’re perfect for the job.

Maybe. If you’ll forget about yourself for a moment.

Big, Important Tip: Forget About YOU, Focus on THEM

From Penelope Trunk (read her article on cover letters, it’s good):

“Someone has actually said that they are qualified for the job because it’s a good commute for them.”

Yep. Sadly, people do that sort of thing all the time, and not just in job hunting, either. They focus on their needs, rather than what they can do for someone else.

The last time I read a batch of resumes, I wanted to stab myself in the head with a fork, to stop the pain. That’s why lots of companies say the heck with it, and get you to fill in online forms; no one wants to read resumes.

Focus on What You Bring to the Company

I write bios and resumes which get people hired. Here’s how I do it. I list my client’s attributes. Usually it’s a long list; many more than the client can come up with for himself. It’s hard to see yourself as others see you.

By this time, I’ve researched the company, and know quite a lot about them. So I cross out irrelevant attributes, and focus on the two or three of my client’s attributes which directly relate to the job.

I make sure that those are highlighted in the resume itself.

(Writing a resume is a copywriting task; you’re writing to persuade.)

You’ve Got a Personality, Let It Shine

One thing: be wary of online cover letter samples. Most are me, me, me… They sound self-satisfied and precious, verging on pompous. Consider the poor soul who’ll glance at these letters. (No one will read them, life’s too short.)

All that “me, me, me” belongs in the resume, NOT in the cover letter. Create an overview in your resume, which highlights why you’re perfect for the job at Company X. Make this specific. You don’t want the HR person to think: “Ooooh look. He did a printout just for us.” Each and every resume you send out needs to be specific to a company.

You’ve got choices with a cover letter. You can make it strictly business. You write a few sentences about the company, and why you think the company is so wonderful. Then you you say you’d like to be considered for the position, and that’s all.

Alternatively, and this is my preferred option, you can let yourself go, and just be yourself. Write whatever you like. Be enthusiastic, and honest.

A Final Tip: Read, and Follow the Instructions

Always, always, read the instructions if you’re applying for a job, no matter whether it’s online or offline. Read the instructions once, and then read them again, and make a list of the things you need to do. (I’m serious.)

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

5 Best David Ogilvy Copywriting Tips to Improve Your Marketing

 Best David Ogilvy Copywriting Tips to Improve Your Marketing

As you may know, I do a lot of writing, only some of which is copywriting. However, I find that insights I’ve developed from copywriting inform all my other writing. On the whiteboard next to my desk, I’ve always got some copywriting tips. Usually they’re quotes from David Ogilvy.

His quotes always inspire me. Let’s have a look at five gems.

“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

You can’t be creative if you’re not having fun:

“Creative people have apparently mastered the art of turning off this part of their brains to let their ideas flow more smoothly, unleashing their imagination,” she writes.

Before I write advertising copy, or a sales page, I spend ten minutes reading P.G. Wodehouse. Lord Emsworth and the Empress of Blandings (the earl’s prize-winning fat pig) always make me smile.

You know what makes you laugh, so do it, read it, or watch it, before you settle down to write advertising copy.

“What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.”

Know what you want your advertising to do; the form doesn’t matter.

Although I love words, sometimes an image needs to take the stage. Look at Apple’s advertisement for the iMac. Click on the first image, and scroll. Amazing, right?

Click off the primary image, and scroll down the page. See how how the images of iMacs frame the words? Apple knows its market: Mac users. They look at the iMac on the screen, then the Mac on their desk, and consider upgrading.

“What you say in advertising is more important than how you say it.”

Content again. Know your audience, what you want your audience to do, and decide what you want to say. Then find the most effective way of saying it. Getting back to Apple’s iMac ad, the ad’s brilliant, because you don’t need to do more than glance at the words.

The words aren’t a sales pitch; that isn’t needed. Good copywriting is good writing: have something to say, and say it.

“Good copy can’t be written with tongue in cheek, written just for a living. You’ve got to believe in the product.”

Emotion comes through in your words. Your audience senses how you feel, and if you don’t value the product, and don’t believe what you’re saying, that comes across.

“There is no need for advertisements to look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract about 50 per cent more readers.”

Content marketing’s hot because we’re exposed to so much advertising all day, every day, that we just tune it out. Our challenge is to write editorial content which sells. Is it easy? No. Is it effective? Yes, if it’s done well.

Here’s what I love about quotes from David Ogilvy: no matter how many times you read the quotes, and even if you know them by heart, they get you thinking. And writing better copy.

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, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

Time Management, Self-Management: Bullet Journaling

 Time Management, Self-Management: Bullet Journaling
Time Management, Self-Management: Bullet Journaling Resources

Time management is self-management. We all have the same amount of time; it’s what we do to manage ourselves that counts. I became interested in time management again a few months back when I discovered bullet journaling.

I’m a big fan of paper; working something out on paper is powerful. For a couple of decades I fell in love with tech, because I was writing for several computer magazines. That made me feel slightly guilty that I still used so much paper. I got over that very smartly, when I realized that using both paper and digital tools helped not only my productivity, but also my creativity. It just makes sense to keep doing what works.

Unfortunately, my diaries, journals, binders, and planners were a long way from being a real system. Not only did I have more paper notebooks than I could keep track of, I also had a blizzard of sticky notes on my bulletin board, my library shelves, and on just about any flat surface.

Although I’d been hearing about the bullet journal, I scoffed at it. Then in desperation, I decided to give the system a trial. Not only did I find it powerful and effective, I discovered something else. There’s a huge paper planner community. Who knew? My battered old Filofax is 25 years old, so I ordered a Hobonichi Techo, which is superb. Just right for bullet journaling in 2015.

Combining bullet journaling with digital tools like Evernote works for me, and I’ll write more about that in the coming months.

Bullet Journaling Resources

If you’re interested in trying bullet journaling, here are the resources I found valuable.

The Bullet Journal Website: Here’s What You Need to Know

Start by visiting the bullet journal website. Watch the video, grab a notebook, and get started. You’ll learn a lot about yourself. Here’s what I discovered immediately: I was more productive.

You can hide and ignore tasks you haven’t done with a digital task management tool. With a bullet journal, you can see that you’re migrating tasks over and over, and that fact alone irritates you enough that you DO that pain-in-the-rear task, or tasks. I hate administration, and while that won’t change, my bullet journal ensures that I DO those tasks.

The Bullet Journal Communities

I’m a member of two groups, the Bullet Journal Community on Google+, and the Bullet Journal Junkies Group on Facebook.

Lovely people on both those communities. If you have questions about notebooks, signifiers, methods, or anything else, ask.

Blog Post and Videos: Tips From Bullet Journalers

Here are some blog posts and videos which helped me to get started with bullet journaling.

33 Days Later: an Update on My Use of the Bullet Journal Method Task Tracking System: Jewel Ward offers this insight:

“What I like about the Bullet Journal method is that the act of manually transferring my tasks from day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month forces me to be more aware of that I need to do, what I have done, and, what is feasible to do within the time frame I have available. It does take more time, but overall, it saves me time.”

How the Bullet Journal Cured Idea Overload Syndrome — Renee Shupe’s insight:

“I discovered that using pen & paper over a digital process actually has me reviewing the ideas and taking action by either crossing them out as they are no longer valid or hashing it out and building a plan for implementation.”

Video: How I set up my Bullet Journal – from Hailey Cairo, an excellent primer.

Video: My Bullet Journal from Miss VickyBee, another excellent primer on how to get started.

Will bullet journaling work for you? I’ve no idea. However, if you’re as desperate to develop a sane time management system as I was, you’ll love the system. Watch Ryder Carroll’s video, and start. You’ll know whether it helps within a day or two.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

Writing Journal 14: Short Stories Sell

Writing Journal 14: Short Stories Sell

My writing journal for Monday, August 25, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Novellas

Up at 5AM, eager to write. Did more outlining on the current novella, which is #4, and wrote 1,100 words. I could have written more, but spent one timer session to researching so that I can create the meta data for novella #3.

I spent an hour reading #3, in preparation for the edit. I need to get my edit finished, so that I can send off it off to the contracted editor. I promised her the material today, thinking that I could get it done over the weekend, but that didn’t happen.

Also wrote 1,000 words of nonfiction on the client’s book. I’m a little ahead of where I should be, so I stole time from this project for the novella.

Breakfast for Honey, and for me, while reading email. We get a lot of email over the weekend, because students complete their exercises, and are impatient for feedback. So, email takes a little longer today.

Time for a walk, and then time to sort out the week’s schedule with Julia.

Next, I work on a couple of copywriting projects from last week. I always like to leave a couple of days between writing, and editing, to clear my mind. They’re fine, so Julia can send them to the clients.

Blog posts. One for a client blog, and Short Stories Sell, for the freelance writing blog.

I also wrote a blog post for the Just Write a Book Blog, Write a Novel, or a Short Story?

Lunch, at my computer, reading students’ projects.

Short stories SELL (for the first time in decades)

Readers buy short stories. I know that from my experiences with publishing my own fiction to Amazon, and ghostwriting fiction for clients.

Writers think that there’s a catch… Why do short stories sell on Amazon?

I’m sure that it’s because we’re all pressed for time. I download a short story to read because I have a few minutes to relax, and I’m in the mood for a story of that genre.

In the days when I bought hardcover and paperback books, and visited the library every week, I felt obliged to read everything I hauled home. I went to all that trouble, so I should read the books, right? :-) Today, I’ve got 2,000 ebooks on my Kindle. I may read a chapter or three, or I may read the entire ebook.

Consider too, Kindle Unlimited. Readers can download ten ebooks at a time. Why not download a short story? They can finish a story quickly.

So that’s my theory on why short stories sell now: readers like them because they’re a quick read.

You don’t have to write a novel to justify your price

Writers tend to think that if they write a short story, they have to give it away for free, or sell it for 99 cents. Nonsense. Sell your story for $2.99.

Client deadline

Next, I’m on deadline for a long article I’m ghostwriting for a client. I had a chat with him last week to get material. Now I need to add the additional material, and write another draft.

I can chop the article into separate documents in Scrivener, and then drag the snippets around. Then, if I like the structure of the article in Scrivenings mode, I can redo the transitions, and it’s done. God bless Scrivener. Saves so much time.

That’s it for today. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.