"Your language becomes clear and strong, not when you can no longer add a sentence, but when you can no longer take away from it."
This is one of my all-time a favorite writing quote. My colleagues and Twitter Job Search Guide co-authors, Deb Dib and Susan Whitcomb, are masters of the concise. During the process of writing the book, Deb developed an inspired a formula for writing cover letters in ten tweets–or the equivalent of less then ten text messages.
Since publishing the book, Deb and Susan have put their heads together again and have designed a framework to get a ten tweet cover letter down to only five points. I've always been an advocate of cover letters that show employer research, engagement, and an understanding of job fit. In the past I've often struggled to develop cover letters in less than one page. As an English major, it was a challenge not to exceed the suggested limit for papers. In college, I was jealous of my friend Cindy who was called out for submitting a paper in 14 point font. Our professor's comment:
"Cindy, do you think I'm blind?"
"Chandlee, do you think I have a magnifying glass?"
In years since, I've learned to reduce my word count be brief. The twitter limitation of 140 characters has helped with that. So have text messages. And so has my work with Deb and Susan. As Deb says, "So what? Say it fast. And Make me care."
I can now write letters in less than 500 words. Resumes with 10+ years of experience in one page. And given that employers spend less than 15 seconds on a resume, and perhaps even less than 10 seconds on a cover letter, that's important. There's no room for clutter.
As this video shows, there's a lot of blah out there. Who has patience for it? No one. Here's to trimming the fat, removing the unnecessary, eliminating the extraneous.