Tone (And its importance in your applications)…

…as in “you need to watch your tone of voice young lady“. A tone 1
statement often heard in our house growing up. Granted it was usually in response to my biting, witty, teenage sarcasm, but tone is something we all need to be wary of in our written communications – especially when applying for a job.

  1. Too Candid

ALWAYS focus on your strengths first and the ways in which you meet the essential criteria. If you don’t meet the essential criteria either rethink whether you want to spend the time doing this application, or if you want to give it a go, show that you’re confident about the key skills and qualities required and how these are matched by your specific STAR stories, interests and motivations.

Conclude your statement or answer by emphasising that you have the skills and qualities required, and that you are sure you are suited to the job.

Some examples that I have seen of unnecessary candidness in the motivational statement:

  • I need the money.
  • I’m not very good at….. but I’m willing to learn
  • I’ve not got skills of …. as listed in the Essential Criteria but I do have skills of… instead.
  • To be honest…

And on the subject of honesty, that brings us to point 2:

2. Too Casualtone 5

You need to strike a balance here between not being over-friendly but still injecting your personality. Think about how you might project yourself to a new love-interest’s Mum. You want them to have a good impression of you, you’ll try to do everything right and you’ll certainly want to show the best version of yourself.

Keep a professional tone – you’re not talking to a pal, similarly it’s not an academic essay. Always stick to the job description and your evidence and that will keep you safely in the middle ground.

And NEVER do the following: emojis :), txt spk or too many exclamation marks!!!!!!!

Yes I kid you not, all spotted in real-life applications, thankfully we headed it off at the pass.


3. Assertiveness bordering on Arrogance

Hyperbole can be very off-putting if you don’t have the evidence to back it up. Overuse of words like: impeccable, unrivalled, unparallelled, incomparable can be a bit much for your reader. However, similarly don’t use the passive either: I did, I had to, this involved, finished.

Instead try using active verbs like: devised, prepared, obtained, created, analysed, interpreted, completed, achieved. This sounds much more genuine and truthful, backed up by (have I said this already) your evidence.Finger wagging

My apologies if I sound a bit “finger wagging” but sometimes it really does help to know what not to do as well as always looking for best practice.

As always, good luck and happy career planning.

Ann Duff (Careers Managers for Arts)






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