And: another thing.

July 17, 2015 at 7:27 am | Posted in copywriting | 5 Comments
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When to replace 'and' with '&'.

Concise copy is sweet!

I just did the penultimate edit of a resume (CV).

My client asked why I changed most instances of ‘and’ to ampersands (&) in his many bullet points.

Here’s what I replied:

In the context of this document, using ampersands lets busy recruiters cut to the chase without having to trip over 50 or so connecting words.

The ampersands fade into the background, bringing keywords to the fore.

Also, the four pages you sent were pretty dense, so this change got some bullets onto fewer lines – and created more white space between them.

All for easier reading – in case it’s 5 pm, on a Friday, and yours is the 99th resume of the day.

And if the recruiter is using software to scan your resume for keywords, it won’t be interested in ‘and’ under any circumstances.

I also removed most instances of ‘the’ as it, too, usually adds nothing to bullet points.

These are both changes we can reverse if you prefer.

&

there

you have it!

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by abakedcreation.

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Right between the eyes

January 22, 2014 at 8:35 am | Posted in copywriting | 4 Comments
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2163474742_76d766fcfe_o Bullets

Now look here.

Last week I optimised a LinkedIn summary.

This was a natural progression from editing resumes.

And with jobs falling like flies, I expect this work to burgeon.

My client had asked for a ‘punchier’ summary, yet had much to say in a small space.

So I pulled out the big guns:

bullet points.

But when I submitted the summary, my client asked:

Do you think it’s OK to have many sets of bullet points like that?

I thought carefully before replying.

LinkedIn is mutating monthly.

What worked before may not now.

And many who claim to be social media ‘gurus’ aren’t.

That said, I felt my reply was solid:

Bullets pack a pithy punch while resting reader eyes.

This is particularly important online – where attention spans are gnat-like.

And the LinkedIn format fairly begs for this kind of ‘shorthand’.

The good thing about bullets is that if you feel there are too many, you can ditch the least-fabulous ones.

So, the question is: how much of a punch do you wish to pack?

You can answer this question yourself.

Or ask your trusty focus group.

As is so often the case, we should let our readers be our guide.

Fair enough?

My client agreed.

Do you?

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

On your mark

December 21, 2013 at 5:40 am | Posted in copywriting | 5 Comments
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Does military service torpedo careers?

Does military service kill careers?

As the global economy wobbles and shifts, I’ve been doing more resumes (CVs) than usual.

This recently triggered a prospective client request I’d not encountered before:

Please discuss your experience with translating military careers to civilian resumes.

I had to think about this one – especially as it came from a US prospect.

Along with mining, I don’t do defence (defense) work.

But am I wrong to throw the hand grenade out with the heavy water by focusing on sectors, instead of people?

Anyway, this is what I came up with:

Hi, Arnie*.

I appreciate your wish to choose the best possible service provider.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if you found a US writer who more closely understood your background and needs.

Last month I did a CV for a Major-turned-CEO who spent a decade in the Australian Army.

Over the years, one or two other clients have come to me with limited military exposure (e.g. reserves) but this was only part of their bigger picture.

My approach to military service is to the accentuate the positive (e.g. leadership, responsibility, decision making, accountability, prioritisation, maturity, working with BIG gear).

During my human resources career, I found some recruiters were a bit ‘twitchy’ about hiring ex-defence personnel.

I always look for the qualities of a person, rather than how or where they honed them.

I’ve been on interview panels where I was a fan of the massively experienced former-naval guy, but other managers wondered why he didn’t get a ‘normal’ job instead of doing service.

So, when doing a resume with military experience, I ensure the content demonstrates that the candidate did not run to the military to escape debt, jail (gaol), women, babies, abusive parents or evil voices in the head.

By laying out the noble reasons for joining up, I neutralise prejudices in the minds of some biased recruiters.

From closely following the media, I gather that the US experience is rather more acute than that of Aussie soldiers.

I think Iraq trumps East Timor.

So I may well not have the big-gun expertise you seek.

What I do have, however, is the ability to put your best foot forward in a way that will delight sceptical managers and cowardly HR types by hitting their hot buttons and negating their fears.

I hope this answers your questions, Arnie.

As a greenie, defence (like mining) isn’t my sector of choice.

But, unlike most in the field, I actually believe human resource professionals  should be human, resourceful and professional.

So I’m pretty confident I can get you where you need to be.

Kind regards,

P.

Arnie hasn’t replied to this or my follow-up email.

I think I lost him at ‘greenie’.

Still, it was an interesting exercise in clarifying what I can (and am prepared to) do to earn a living.

(You may recall I’ve had angst on this issue.)

I hope you found this reflection entertaining.

As always, I warmly welcome your thoughts.

🙂

* Not his real name.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Bio

March 30, 2010 at 9:04 am | Posted in copywriting | Leave a comment
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Facing the word …

A prospective client asked what I’d charge to write a professional biography (bio).

Here’s what I said:

Given a decent resume and a sample of a bio you’d like me to emulate, I could do a 100-150 word bio in around an hour.

My hourly ‘rack’ rate is $130 plus 10% GST (in Australia).

If I’m given poor (or massively huge) source documents or bad direction, it may take me longer to create what you seek. Say 1.5 to 2.5 hours.

I charge by the hour.

But I bill only for time actually worked.

As with all copywriting, the clearer the brief and the better the source materials, the better, faster (and therefore cheaper) the job.

I’ve done a lot of bios.

One of the many benefits of a great bio is that you can get twice the bang for your buck by putting yours on LinkedIn when we’re finished.

🙂

Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

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