In school, you’re (hopefully) taught the importance of writing for your audience. Whether you have to write an essay for your sophomore English professor, or write a research paper for a peer-review panel, everything you write has a specific audience. Keeping your readers top-of-mind whenever you write is vital to getting your ideas across successfully.
You audience determines:
- What you say (what information you include)
- How you say it (your writing style and tone)
- Where you say it (where your communication ends up)
Your audience not only affects what you say on paper, but also what you say on the web. You should be thinking about the people who will be looking for you online to better decide what to put on the web about yourself.
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself whenever you write something on the web and writing for your audience:
- Who will end up reading this? A Facebook message to a friend can be as unprofessional as you want. That type of communication is private and secret. However, there are now tools that let employers search your Facebook wall. That means your friend Greg may not be the only person reading your wall posts anymore. Always keep in mind who might read your writing. Remember: when you post something on the web, it’s almost always permanent.
- How much time does your audience have? The less time your viewer has, the more concise you should be. Often, visuals like graphs and diagrams convey information more effectively than long paragraphs. Saying more with less is a highly valued skill in the work world.
- What information is your audience looking for? Think about the information your audience wants to find. On your Facebook profile, new friends want to know which interests and activities you have in common. At the same time, employers look at your wall to see interests or activities that back up your work experience or make you a more well-rounded candidate. Prioritize your audiences and choose a course of action that best suits your long-term goals. For example, if you know your potential audience includes the hiring manager of your dream not-for-profit, you may want to focus your profile on volunteering activity as opposed to less pertinent items like sports.
- Where will your audience look? The Internet gives us instant gratification on a silver platter. In fact, if people can’t find what they’re looking for in a matter of seconds, they will give up altogether. That means that whenever you write, make sure you’re posting to the places your audience is looking. The less time they spend searching, the more likely they’ll end up reading what you wrote.
Writing for your audience is critical. You wouldn’t hand a graduate level thesis to a kindergartner, so why would you give a potential employer something that is not what they are looking for?