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Writing Coach vs. Ghost Writer

handwriting on a page

A friend's brother recently contacted me for help creating a letter of interest for a new job.

This is something I help clients with a lot. It's hard to write about ourselves -- even professional writers struggle with that. It's even harder when we have a huge opportunity on the line.

I explained my process:

  1. We talk about why you want the new job, who the audience is (including allies, obstacles and unknowns among the search committee or hiring team) and what the potential objections, questions and concerns they may have. We also have a discussion of voice, which is crucial to standing out from other similarly credentialed applicants.
  2. Next, we inventory the core concepts you want to convey, and the details that flesh those out.
  3. You take this back and start writing.
  4. Together we revise the first version to make sure the ideas and details are clear, the voice is correct and the objections, concerns and questions are addressed.
  5. You take another swing, read it aloud a bunch of times, and we collaborate on one more set of revisions.
  6. Then we work on the opening and ending (we save these for last so we have a compelling opening to set up the letter and a strong finish to end it).
  7. Finally, we have a proofreader check for errors.

One reason I go over the process on the opening call is to make sure I'm selling what you want to buy.

In this case, what my friend's brother was looking for was someone to write the letter for him.

The difference between a writing coach and a ghost writer

That's not coaching, that's writing. And it's a service I don't offer. My desire, as a writing coach, is to develop clients' capacity for effective communication. That doesn't happen if I do the work for you. It's the old, teach someone to fish adage.

But maybe more importantly, especially for a letter of interest, is that this is your future we're writing for here, not mine. This letter needs to be yours. Of you, by you. My job is to help you think it through and tune it up. But you bring the voice and do the work. That's how you get an document that's authentic and effective.

If you want to up your executive communication skills and write a great letter of interest, call a coach. If you want someone to write the letter for you, don't waste your time with a coach. Call a résumé and cover letter writer.

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