Confessions of a reluctant writer

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Let’s face it, there is more to life than completing applications. On the other hand, if you are job hunting or looking for an internship, your time is probably quite full up with form filling and thinking about the best way you can present yourself to an employer.

If you are struggling with putting your ideas into writing and feel that your marketing is mundane then here are a couple of hints to help.

Step away from the keyboard!

Yes, I really mean this, take your fingers away from the keys. Now imagine that you are in the interview, your prospective employer is in front of you and asks you the classic question, why do you want this job?  Take a deep breath and really think about why. You can be honest to yourself, it might be the case that the money may be good and you just need a job, but go beyond this.  Why are spending your time on this application rather than an essay, a chat to friends or course reading?  If you want to, try and answer the question out loud (whisper very quietly if you are in the library) or go through the conversation in your head.  You can now return fingers to keyboard, don’t try to immediately write a whole paragraph but jot down ideas.

Put yourself in the employers’ shoes, do you sound convincing or bland?  Are you being vague – I am really interested in working in x or y tells me nothing as the recruiter. Give me some insight into why you are interested – the job links with your course, your work experience, you have been motivated by meeting someone working in this area etc.  You can then begin to refine your answer to fit into the letter or form.

Read the question

Ok I know that this is an obvious statement but have you worked out what you are being asked? You are all veterans of many exams and will hopefully understand the benefit of being clear about what the employer is asking before you start to write.  Does the question have more than one part? Are you being asked for one or more examples of your experience?

Let your ideas flow  

This can be a useful approach particularly if you are answering questions on an application form with word limits. Give yourself permission to just write an answer of any length to begin with, get your ideas down on paper and then begin to edit and refine. It is a real challenge to write a set number of words and having this at the forefront of your mind can sometimes get in the way.

Take a break

If you are struggling to find the right words or work out which example to use in an answer then take a break. Reflect on your ideas on your daily commute (please concentrate on cycling though if you are commuting on your bike!) or whilst on the treadmill in the gym or having a break during the day.  You may be surprised how much more easily words can flow on paper or screen when you return.

Good luck and remember that you can book in to speak to one of us Careers Consultants in the Careers Service – we’re more than happy to read through your applications! Just come by the Careers Service in Room SL57 or call us on 0207 898 4115 on the day you want to be seen.

Claire Rees, Careers Consultant

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About soascareers

We are the dedicated provider of careers advice, events and information services for current SOAS students, staff and GradClub members.

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