Whether you’re a job applicant applying for a position, a freelancer trying to attract clients, or an employee climbing the corporate ladder, your ability to effectively communicate is one of your most valuable assets.
Everything you write has a very specific audience. Are you keeping your audience in mind when you write? To effectively impact your readers, keep your audience top of mind whenever you write.
You audience determines:
- What you say (the information itself)
- How you say it (writing style and tone)
- Where you say it (the vehicle used to promote your message)
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself whenever you write something related to your career:
1. Who will end up reading this?
Sure, a Facebook message to a college buddy can be unprofessional and sloppy – just like the times you had senior year. That type of communication is private. But his or her Facebook wall is different, especially since employers now have sophisticated tools that can potentially unveil wall posts. So always keep in mind who might read your writing and err on the side of caution.
2. How much time does your audience have?
The less time your viewer has, the more concise you need to be. Often, visuals like graphs and diagrams convey information more effectively than long paragraphs. Saying more with less is an incredibly valuable skill. Spend time cutting out unnecessary adjectives. Keep your sentences short and to the point. Eliminate run-on sentences.
3. What information is your audience looking for?
Think about the information your audience is looking for. On your Facebook profile, new friends want to know which interests and activities you have in common. At the same time, employers and clients look at your wall to see interests or activities that back up your work experience or make you a more well-rounded candidate. Prioritize your audiences and choose a course of action that best suits your long-term goals.
If you know your potential audience includes the hiring manager of your dream not-for-profit, you may want to focus your profile on volunteering activity as opposed to less pertinent items like sports.
4. Where will your audience look?
If people can’t find what they’re looking for online in a matter of seconds, they give up and move on. That means that whenever you write, make sure you’re publishing in the places your audience is looking. The less time they spend searching, the more likely they’ll end up reading what you wrote. (Since people are searching for you in Google, go through my Online Visibility Audit to improve your chances of being found).
5. Are you writing to a vague crowd or to one specific person?
I find it’s easiest to write as if you’re speaking directly to one person. Visualize a reader and write to them, one on one, as if only they were the only one reading it. I find my writing comes out more personal and to the point this way. Give it a try, and let me know how it goes! With these questions and my five tips to communicate more effectively, you should be well on your way to ensuring that every written communication becomes a positive touchpoint for your personal brand.
Pete Kistler is a leading Online Reputation Management expert for Generation Y, a top 5 finalist for Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of 2009, one of the Top 30 Definitive Personal Branding Experts on Twitter, a widely read career development blogger, and a Judge for the 2009 Personal Brand Awards. Pete manages strategic vision for Brand‐Yourself.com, the first online reputation management platform for job applicants, named one of the Top 100 Most Innovative College Startups in the U.S.