Writing tips from famous authors to boost your job applications

Book open with sparkles emitting from it.

No matter what career you want to go into, there’s one occasion when you need to be a great writer and that’s when applying for jobs. Whether it’s finding the best succinct way to get all the right information in your CV or knowing how to sell your skills and experience in a captivating way in a covering letter, writing can be hugely important when it comes to making an impression.

That’s why Ivory Research has found some of the most inspiring quotes from history’s greatest writers, with tips that can help you find the words to give you the best chance of getting the jobs you want.

“There’s a line between revision and fretting, just working it to death. It is important to know when you are fretting it; when you are fretting it because it is not working, it needs to be scrapped” – Toni Morrison.

For writers, revision is a crucial tool for perfecting what they’re working on, whether it’s an essay or a novel, but as Toni Morrison said, too much revision could be covering up the fact that it’s just not working. And if it’s not working, no amount of editing will change that. So if you’re struggling with writing a job application, take a step back and really analyse whether it’s because it’s just not the right job for you.

“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite” – C.S. Lewis

Lewis may have written a book about a magic kingdom that you can find through the back of a wardrobe, but he knew that you need to stay grounded in reality when choosing your words. There’s the temptation when selling yourself in a covering letter or CV to ramp up the language you’re using to show off and make your career so far sound extra impressive. But, like Lewis says, this can leave you actually underselling your biggest achievements because you’ve already used all your best adjectives on the more run-of-the-mill information.

“First forget inspiration. Habit is much more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not.. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.” – Octavia E. Butler

For writers, it’s not just about getting amazing ideas and sitting down to write them. Most great books have been written by writers on days when they’ve had no inspiration at all but have still slogged through because they needed to keep going, otherwise they’d have never finished them. The same applies for job hunting. If you only did it on days where you’re feeling inspired and confident, you might miss out on a great opportunity. Inspiration won’t always be there, so you need to build up the habit.

“You should be very kind when you explain something. If you think ‘it’s ok, I know that’, it’s a very arrogant thing. So.. I explain very carefully and clearly.” – Haruki Murakami

Whether you’re writing a novel or a covering letter, it’s important to be very aware that you understand your own terms of reference but a reader might not. You need to explain what you’re talking about if you want to make the right impression on a hiring manager because they don’t have the time to try and work it out. If they don’t understand, they’ll simply move on to the next application on the pile.

Writing CVs and covering letters can be hard work, especially when you’re having to work on multiple applications, but by following these tips you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of impressing employers.