Mistaking density for sophistication seems to be the most common writing hurdle for non-creative writers. When you’re writing to inform it’s important to convey authority without forfeiting clarity. Adopting the writing style of an academician might imply conviction, but will likely confuse more than it will educate. Whether you’re drafting a cover letter or a cold email, you don’t want to afford the recipient any reasons to stop reading your email, in favor of a less mentally taxing one. Ladders recently had the pleasure of an interview with Senka Hadzimuratovic, the Head Of Communications over at Grammarly, about this very subject.
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“The average email user at a business receives more than 90 emails per day, and ever yone competes for attention. Managing this requires effective communication, which means focusing on clarity and concision,” Hadzimuratovic told Ladders. She went on to provide some helpful ways to ensure your work remains concise yet informative.
Finding your footing in a formal setting
Avoid giving yourself opportunities to submit to long-winded verbiage, by implementing a mandatory length limit. Hadzimuratovic adds, “Setting a limit will help you make your point faster and reduce unnecessary words. A study conducted by Boomerang found that emails between 75 and 100 words get the highest response rates. If word count is difficult for you to track, try limiting the number of sentences.”
In addition to a mandatory length limit, establish a goal for every single email you write, as to not overwhelm the reader with irrelevant details. It’ll be easier to survey what sentences are redundant if you know the aim of the writing. Moreover, the clearer the objective of the email, the more likely the reader will finish reading and respond. Be sure to edit a few times before sending. Identify any instances where you could cut a sentence or two and still retain meaning.
Make use of technology
As many already know, Grammarly users are offered several presets designed to help execute the desired tone and mitigate grammatical errors. “For instance, when a user selects “Creative,” Grammarly won’t flag sentence fragments or other more creative stylistic flourishes. When a user selects “Academic,” Grammarly uses a stricter lens, alerting a writer to issues such as “who” versus “whom” or advising against the use of personal pronouns, which may be frowned upon in formal academic writing,” Hadzimuratovic explained to Ladders.
Before you write a cover letter, make sure you do some research, to better enable the Grammarly Editor to specify the writing style you’re going for. As a general rule, if you’re looking to land a job, Hadzimuratovic recommends you employ the “Business” domain, set goals of either “Inform” or “Convince” and apply the “Formal” writing style.
Of course, it’s up to the writer to determine which of these presets apply best to the particular firm and industry of which they are applying. Even still, you always want to make sure you don’t come across too formal. The “Formal” style, doesn’t prohibit instances to advertise your personality, it just makes sure your writing conveys a literacy and a degree of professionalism.
“In cover letter writing, it’s important to avoid jargon or overly technical words, unless these are specifically relevant to the role. Ideally, identify the name of the hiring manager and refer to them by name, but if you must use a generic greeting, we suggest “Dear Hiring Manager”— a recent report shows 40% of hiring managers prefer that term.”
Before we wrapped up, I asked the Grammarly exec to choose three adjectives to describe a well-reasoned, cogent piece of writing. “Concise, clear, personalized. Customize openers, subject lines, keywords, and closing statements for your intended audience. Especially in cover letters, it’s important to tailor your message to show the company that you’ve done your research and are authentically interested.”
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