Strong marketing documents can help you get in the door. But, as you know, they are not that easy to write. So, before you spend an hour composing a cover letter, spend ten minutes reading the following proofreading and style tips.
While these guidelines will help with your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile, following them will improve all your written communication. Always represent yourself in the best possible light.
Here are 20 steps to the write stuff.
Top 10 Proofreading Tips
- Read through the document several times, one time check for spelling, the next time check punctuation, etc.
- Read your copy backwards, read the pages out of order, check copy upside down.
- Take a break from your writing before sending it out, at least one hour, one day if possible.
- Always mark your place before you stop proofreading.
- Double-check the beginnings of pages, paragraphs, sections, page numbers, headings, etc.
- Triple-check the copy around errors, mistakes tend to cluster.
- Check that font is the same throughout the document.
- Be especially careful with numbers and totals, check calculations and how numbers line up.
- Double-check referenced material (for example see following page) content may move with revisions.
- Check the overall look and read of the document, grammar, white space, etc.
Top 10 Writing Style Tips
While writing style is somewhat of an intangible, certain rules do apply. Remember, career marketing tools are meant to sell you to a potential employer. However, each piece of business correspondence you send represents you.
- Documents should be attractive and presented in the proper format.
- Sentences shouldn’t be too long or short. Avoid sentences that go on and on forever.
- Writing should be clear and concise. Always make sure the message will be clear to your readers. Have someone else read your documents if possible. Do they understand what you’re trying to say?
- Documents should be organized logically, with smooth transitions between sentences.
- The opening should capture the reader’s attention. Do try to stand out from the crowd. But, avoid statements that are hard sell or too cutesy. What sounds great out loud may not translate when written.
- Write to your reader. A cover letter to a potential employer should be more formal than that to a business colleague.
- Keep the tone fresh, interesting and friendly. Avoid outdated, wordy phrases. You wouldn’t say “enclosed please find” or “as per” why write them?
- Be positive, use action words. Do say “I am . . .” Don’t say “I believe I am . . . “
- Change each letter, if only slightly. Don’t send the same thank you letter to each person you meet during the interview process.
- Proofread. Proofread. Your documents must be free of errors, typos, poor grammar, etc.