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What’s in a word?

by on 7 Apr, 2011

Well, I think practically everything.

I’m helping a client to recruit at the moment, and I’d almost forgotten what a depressing exercise it can be in so many ways.

Politely acknowledging every single application, without giving away too much, or innocently exposing yourself to some speculative lawsuit because you have somehow omitted a specific aspect of the selection process.

Spotting the mistake in an otherwise adequate CV, and wondering why the applicant didn’t bother to properly check their work before sending it to you as a misguided example of their invariable “attention to detail”… 

Finding it hard to take an applicant seriously, despite their extensive,  even occasionally relevant, CV, when it has come to you from deffcrazybird123hulabitch@hotmail or badandmadlad@yoof.com

[I made these two addresses up to make a point, and am quietly praying that they don’t belong to real people!]

It is becoming clear to me that the one sure way to protect yourself against these negative impressions is, in fact, to say very little.   Very little indeed. After all, the less you say, the less opportunity to make an idiot of yourself. The fewer words, the less room for negative interpretation  by the cynical employer.

This isn’t a new thought. Most professional writers will agree that one of their first important lessons was about brevity. The art of saying more with less.

I’m just a little surprised that it’s still as true when promoting yourself as a product. Common sense would suggest that the more informed your audience, the more inclined to pursue your application.

The reality is that the less you say, the more likely you are to be heard.

A lesson most hardcore negotiators already know. And one that writers would do well to keep at the front of their mind.

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