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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I am really impressed by the three dozen (!) letters I got asking to intern as a reader for me. Kudos to all y'all who wrote in.

I've contacted the people on my short list. If you're not one of them, thank you so much for volunteering, and please keep up the good work. Good attitude, guys!

I do have a couple of observations about the emails I got, which I'd like to share with you guys, since you'll probably be writing letters to other people for other jobs -- hopefully paying ones.

First, the most effective letters focused on how you can help me. I want this to be a good fit for you, but my primary focus is on what qualifies you to do the job well. What are your qualifications? What are your skills?

Second, the best letters tended to be shorter. I know this is your shot at the job, so you want to put it all in there. But a really well crafted, well-thought out half page impresses more than a page with everything in it. Anyone who's looking to hire you wants to know that you can prioritize. What's the most important thing you have to say?

Third, the most effective letters were unapologetically positive. Never diss your lack of experience or the quality of your work or talk about your doubts. Almost any letter you write to a stranger is partially a sales letter. Sell yourself to the person you're writing to. Why give me reasons to doubt you?

Finally, showing is more impressive than telling. How you respond to the posting when you don't have the job yet tells me a lot about how you'd do in the job. For example, this is a job that's all about doing work for free. A well-wrought, insightful email on which you obviously spent time and thought shows that you are comfortable doing work for free; one that shows you know me and my point of view qualifies you even better.

Content is important, but, particularly in any writing related job, presentation of content is just as important.

Again, thanks to all of you who wrote me. You're an impressive bunch of people!



Does this mean you're no longer accepting letters?

By Blogger RyanRB, at 7:43 PM  

I never saw anything about this on the blog, did I miss a post here?

By Blogger Paul William Tenny, at 4:54 AM  

Great feedback, Alex. Whether I get selected or not, I'm excited to have submitted just for this input!

By Blogger angela, at 2:39 PM  

*frowns* Well, it was certainly worth a shot. To be honest, I didn't know what to write in that letter. Still, it was a cool opportunity even to have the chance of having a reading internship.

By Blogger Nicholas, at 10:42 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:32 AM  

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By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:32 AM  

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