Getting work as a writer, or getting into graduate school requires one major (and daunting) document: the personal statement. As I go down that rabbit hole as well, as I apply for graduate school this fall, I too am terrified of explaining myself in a way that is eloquent and intelligent. Pitching your company is very similar to this feeling, as I have helped write a few pitches, now that I am a copywriter. As a business owner, you are supposed to characterize your brand completely and thoroughly in just a short email or telephone conversation, and often, you are too emotionally attached to give an intellectual delivery. It’s hard not to feel so emotionally tied to either your writing or your company because, let’s face it, it’s kind of your life’s work.
Here are my fears for the personal statement:
- I will sound too young. I know I am a young writer, and I have not completely learned my craft yet, and I don’t want to sound like I am trying to fit into a crowd that I don’t even understand yet. For instance, if you are trying to fit into the fashion industry for the first time, you are basically trying to fit into a world filled with your idols (Izaac Mizrahi, Michael Kors, Tori Burch) and you don’t want to insult them by saying that you are on par.
- I will make a grammatical mistake. I fear the day that I don’t hear back from schools because I misspelled the word charismatic. If that happens, send me cookies because I will be crying for weeks.
- I’m not what they are looking for. Many schools pick writers based on what they don’t have at their school already. Wouldn’t that be just my luck that I apply for schools that love Victorian writers, and I am handing in Latin American realism? Business owners face this too when the PR company, magazine or editor they are pitching to are only looking for modern clothing when they are selling vintage renaissance inspired garb.
- I’m just not good enough. This boils down to a confidence issue that we all have. What if we just don’t try? What if we save ourselves the pain of rejection and turn back to our 9-5 jobs working for a boss who gets to play out a vision that will never be our own? This is “can’t-get-off-the-couch syndrome” and it is dangerous.
Here are some tip that can help us. They can be found at Purdue Owl:
- Tell a story. Rely on concrete experience, and you will not seem as green as you feel. Most often, your personal experiences are lively and different from other people, and that uniqueness will make you more attractive to employers or schools.
- Be specific. If you tell an employer that you will be a great SEO analyst, be sure to back it up with specific examples. This shows that you have specific experiences that have trained you up to this point.
- Don’t include subjects like; experiences pre-high school, religion, politics, or other controversial issues.
- Avoid clichés. This makes you the opposite of unique. It makes you just like every letter or pitch they have heard, and nobody is looking for the person that will throw him or her recycled ideas. They want innovation not reiteration.
Lastly, revise, revise, revise. Have everyone you can read your statement, and do not stop revising until the deadline.