Keep It Simple

By, 04/12/2012

Last month, Fortune ran a piece on how lessons from the realm of ad copywriting can help folks improve their business writing. It’s a fun read, and the advice it gives is especially relevant for jobseekers writing resumes and cover letters.

 Take Lesson One: “Keep it short.” Hiring managers often get dozens of resumes, and most don’t have the time to pour over each one. If you make your submission as lean as possible, there’s a greater chance the hiring manager reads all you have to say. As you edit your writing, try breaking up long sentences, removing unnecessary modifiers and cutting clichés.

 My favorite advice is this: Keep your words “plain, simple and familiar.” As the article explains, some writers “seem to worry most that they won’t be considered smart, and so they have to keep typing, in increasingly puffed-up language.” If you use on fancy words or jargon to describe your qualifications, hiring managers may suspect you’re trying to appear more impressive than you are. However, if you use plain terms, your skills and accomplishments will speak for themselves.

 Editing takes time—often, more time than writing the initial draft—but the extra effort could set you apart from the crowd.