Writing’s one of the most under-valued and under-trained skills in recruitment.
It also happens to be one of the best ways to move the needle. On virtually every key recruitment metric.
Better writing will get you better headhunt responses, more inbound applications, and better reactions to BD emails.
It’ll have clients and candidates knowing who you are before you’ve even introduced yourself.
It’s instant rapport. And by that I of course mean, a digital foot in the door.
We use words to pique interest. To engage our audience. To amuse. To inspire. And to inform.
And today, we welcome over 300,000 visitors a year to hunted.com. Which, when you think about it, is one hell of a candidate sourcing tactic.
Or the art of strategically crafting words to persuade a reader to act.
Personally, I think writing sits at the apex of typing and thinking.
The former’s the physical act of writing words down. You do it every time you rattle off an email. It’s the easy bit.
The next bit – thinking – is what separates good writers from great ones. And in recruitment, it’s what unlocks new business relationships. And ultimately, what makes good people want to engage with you.
So whatever you want your reader to do – look at a job ad, click a link to your careers page, vote in a poll, or laugh – if you’re expecting to do that with words, you need to give them a reason to.
That requires thought. And not just about the words. But the whole process.
When are you most creative? Are you a morning person? Or does creativity come easier for you at the end of the day?
Science would suggest understanding your ‘chronotype’ – whether you’re an early riser or a night owl – is vital to hacking your natural productivity during the day. I wrote a piece about how you can build your perfect day plan around it.
It’s worth bearing in mind your peak hours might not be when work’s convinced you it is.
Not everyone’s naturally prepped and ready for a solid hour of BD at 10am every day, for example. My peak writing time’s between 10am and 2pm every day. Yours is probably going to be quite different.
And sometimes the logic is a little backward. You might find your do your best writing when you’re feeling least productive. Because with a slump in energy comes the opportunity to zone out and get stuck in to a meaty passage of text.
As with most of the advice in this article, the key’s to experiment and find what works best for you.
Notice how this section’s not labelled Manufacturing or Engineering Your Tone.
Same as you shouldn’t force yourself to write at certain times of the day, it’s important to experiment with language, phrasing, and overall style until you stumble upon a tone that makes your writing distinctly, and naturally, your own.
You might find a super vulnerable, emotional and heartfelt approach works best. Or a professional, informative, helpful tone is more up your street. You might write precisely how you talk. Or invest time and thought into being funny, whether accidentally or on purpose.
My advice would be to continue experimenting until you find a way to write that feels right.
They say humans process images 60,000 times faster than words. Which is a slightly misleading statistic, because if I showed you 60,000 images I very much doubt you’d be able to process all of them in the same time as one bit of text.
But the sentiment’s correct: it’s much faster and easier to take in images than words.
If you’re writing for social media, accompanying your text with an image – or a moving one – stops scrollers in their tracks, focuses attention, and compliments what you’ve written.
You can also use imagery in your writing to paint a picture for your reader, to help them visualise what you’re trying to convey in simpler terms.
Like if I wanted you to think about a big red barn, hey presto you already are.
A while ago, everyone used to call Leonardo da Vinci a genius.
The man himself would argue this, allegedly insisting that he wasn’t one. But that he had one instead.
To da Vinci, a genius was something that lived in the walls. A kind of force or spirit that followed you round and took hold of you at certain moments throughout the day.
As far as he was concerned, as long as he was sat at his desk working, when the time was right, his genius would come to him.
And it often did.
I get that copywriting’s low down on the list of priorities for a recruitment consultant. You’ve got more direct revenue generating things to get on with.
But if you’re bought in to the fact that better writing will improve almost every business metric, the last real trick to nailing your copywriting this year is to just do it.
Just start. Whether that’s opening a discussion on LinkedIn, writing an opinion piece, blocking out an hour to throw ideas for job ads on a page. Whatever it is, just do it.
Copywriting sounds harder than it actually is. And if you simply start, you’ll not only realise that, but start seeing the benefits sooner.
Speak only to one person – so no “Hi all” or “Calling all Project Managers”. Address your writing to the one person you hope responds and make that person feel special, and not simply for being targeted by you.
Use contractions when appropriate – when do not becomes don’t or that is becomes that’s, contractions are the act of replacing one or several letters with an apostrophe. If you were curious, my favourite contraction is you’dn’t’ve (“you would not have”) but you’ll find it zips your writing along and adds to it feeling more conversational.
Remove unnecessary words –
you don’t need all the words in the world to sell something. If you use fewer words, you’ll get a better reaction. Use simple language. Be concise. And don’t overcomplicate it. Like that.
Double-check everything – and not immediately after you’ve written it, as you’ll gloss over the same mistakes you’ve just made. Take a break, go for a wander or do something else, and look back on your work with the benefit of a break behind you. You’ll be way more critical of it.
Read your work out loud – sounds weird (literally) but this is one of the best ways to understand how your words will be interpreted, which may be wildly different to your intentions. Failing that, email what you’ve written to yourself and read it on a different program or platform – you’ll be amazed how many mistakes or improvements you clock reading it in a slightly different format.
Review spelling and grammar – best bet is to use apps and tools to help with this, we’ve collated some of the best ones in a Productivity Hacks article on Writing.
It’s all well and good reading articles like this and resolving to do things differently moving forward. But without action, all best practice is is lip service.
Realistically, the most immediate impact you’ll see from your copywriting is in the construction of, and responses to, job ads. So read this article next on How To Write A Winning Job Ad and then do just that.
But then you can take the same principles and apply it to writing blog content, InMails, cover letters, copy for your company’s website or dad jokes on LinkedIn.
Manager/Head of Recruitment Team at Reuben Sinclair
Miami Consultant - Private Banking or Commodities at Redstone Search
Consultant - Principal Consultant - Marketing at EMR
Recruitment Consultant into Retained Search at SPS International
Global Headhunter & Account Manager at Emerald Technology