Time-management experts recommend doing your most important tasks first. They say that if you start with low-value activities, you may never get to the tasks that could make the biggest difference to your success.
But in writing, it is not always a good idea to begin with your most important messages. It’s smart to start with low-value communications when you need to warm up or to practice for the high-stakes pieces.
Let’s say you are beginning a job search, and you have learned about five job openings that seem like a match for your skills and experience. Two are in dream companies you would love to work for. Two are with companies you would like to work for if the money and benefits were great. The final company is one you are not really drawn to, but the job might be acceptable. You think it is worth investigating.
Which job opening should you apply for first? The one in the company you aren’t really drawn to.
Going through the steps of submitting your resume and cover letter will give you important practice. After you click Submit or drop your application in the mailbox, you will get ideas about how you might have written your pieces more effectively.
Next apply for the jobs you might want. Again, you will discover better ways to sell your strengths.
Finally, after you have thought through the process, sharpened your message, gotten feedback, and caught all errors, you will be ready to apply for the jobs you really want. The mistakes and blandness will be behind you.
So save the best prospects for last–when you are most likely to be successful in your communications.
Note: If you are in the job market, be sure to read my article "Writing About Ourselves: Bragging Without Blushing." It’s on my web site here.