Did you spot Matt Ambrose’s article on Influence? Good advice there on writing short, snappy, attention-grabbing copy.

Earlier in the year, @Wadds tweeted five simple points in response to a question:

(he later corrected the grammar on point two, don’t worry). More good advice.

Breaking the rules

I thought of both last week while filling in a job application. Yes, I’m still doing that.

I’d been tipped off by a friendly former colleague about a raft of jobs at a nearby organisation: she was applying for one and though I ought to apply for one of them as well. Where we both were stuck was on the ‘why do you want this job?’ part of the form.

Some forms ask questions to elicit specific responses. “Think of a time you had to deal with a crisis”, or “Describe an event you organised”. This form just asked for the respondent to say what their strengths were and why they should get the job. Tricky, when you’re really bad at selling yourself.

She kept going over the word limit. I hit about 90%. Bear in mind I’m over 10 years older than she is, have done lots with the CIPR and lots of voluntary sector stuff as well.

It’s a lifelong skill

The difference between us is that my previous role often required me to supply copy for booklets and leaflets, as well as the usual media release. That meant I was already in the habit of writing, editing, rewriting, editing, making sharper, editing, etc.

And, I have this place. A place where I write, edit, rewrite, etc.

Thinking back, I’ve always enjoyed writing, and the editing process. It doesn’t matter who reads what I write here: let’s be honest, mostly no-one reads it unless I somehow manage to strike a chord with the current Zeitgeist or there’s a CIPR election on. It isn’t defamatory, rarely exciting, it isn’t always about public relations, it doesn’t always follow the rulebook on how English should be written but it is by me, in my own words.

So go to WordPress.com, Blogger, Medium or wherever you can start your own blog site for free and get writing. Write about your day, your work. Comment on current affairs, the weather, anything. Be on the ball, be reflective, mix & match – it’s your blog.

Writing is an essential communications tool – learn the different ways and styles of writing, perhaps even experiment a little, use your blog to hone your skills and never, ever assume that it will never come in handy one day. It could be awfully good practice for when you have to write that freeform piece on ‘why I want this job’.