“So, what exactly does an HR copywriter do?”, my nephew asks.
And if the blank faces staring at me are anything to go by, it seems he isn’t the only one who wants to know.
So, here goes.
“What is an HR Copywriter?”
In a nutshell, I write copy about HR-related topics and, typically, I write for independent HR consultants.
Copy in my world includes all types of content. Some people make a distinction between a copywriter and a content writer but, right now, I choose to be a little of both. Websites, headlines and straplines; profiles, blogs and posts.
If it’s a policy or a handbook? Well, then you’ll need a great HR consultant – drop me a message, I’ll recommend one for you. But, if it’s a piece of marketing to help you connect with your audience and make more sales, especially if your work is linked to HR in some way; I’m in.
My job is to help establish your credibility. It’s about sharing your own personal brand of brilliance. Most of all, it’s about creating copy that sells in a voice that sounds like yours. So you get time back to focus on your priorities: delivering projects and sourcing new clients.
“So, what made you become an HR copywriter?”
The honest answer is, I saw a need.
I know a lot of brilliant HR consultants. Some of them don’t need my help. They’re clear on who they’re talking to. They know what they want to say and, most of all, they sound like themselves while they do it.
For everyone else, there’s me.
Over the last few years, I’ve spoken to a lot of incredible HR consultants. And wow! You really know your stuff, you get excited by it, and you can see how much value you bring, even within a super-short conversation.
Read what you put out on social media or your website though, and it’s a completely different story. What happened? It’s like you’re possessed… by the most boring, monotone sludge monster, whose sole purpose is to very slowly wear people into legislative compliance through the use of excessive HR jargon.
Don’t get me wrong. I get it. It’s really hard to break out of your corporate voice. But the problem is:
a) spurting jargon and formalities isn’t the way you’d speak to a manager, and
b) if that’s your marketing message, you may want to consider sprucing up your CV. Because no-one’s ever going to get past the first line, let alone ‘read more’ and appreciate just how brilliant you are.
So, having seen there were some people out there who were struggling with their writing, I figured I could try and help them.
“HR’s pretty complex though; doesn’t it take ages to explain stuff?”
It might. After all, it takes time to build knowledge about HR. And as anyone who works in it will tell you, there is no ‘typical’ day. Disciplinary one day, recruitment the next. New systems, new processes, new strategies. And as for the managers? Well, they’re just a law unto themselves, aren’t they?
So, yes, as an HR consultant, you may well worry about outsourcing and the time it takes to explain a concept versus writing something yourself. The difference for my clients is my background is HR.
I’ve spent over 17 years working as an HR professional (in-house and freelance, specialist and generalist, small and large organisations). I even completed my Masters in HR Management for good measure.
So, when you call, you don’t waste precious time explaining why thorough grievance processes are important, or what performance management means. Instead, the focus is firmly on understanding you and your business, your target client, and your tone of voice.
“So how did you make the switch?”
When you find yourself bored of doing the do, you start reading books about changing careers, or finding your ‘happy place’. Problem is, you’ve devoted a lot of time creating the career you’re in, so it can be hard to stand back from it and work out what you’d truly enjoy.
As I left my last corporate HR role, all I knew was that I needed to make a change. So I did…I left corporate life and went straight into HR consulting. But for me, that wasn’t a big enough change. It wasn’t just about the freedom of which clients you work with, or the projects you do. I’d properly fallen out of love with HR.
So, when I fell pregnant and the world was going to hell in a handbasket thanks to a little-known global pandemic that sent us all into lockdown and delirium, I took a proper step back.
What did I enjoy?
Communication. Writing. HR (the topic, just not the doing).
The next step was to bring them all together, but was that really a good idea? I decided to ask a professional’s opinion (cue contacting Jo Watson).
If you’ve never read any of her stuff, do. She’s a bloody genius.
I stumbled across her a few years ago, later did one of her copywriting courses. And I’ve been privileged to call her a friend ever since.
Her writing is second to none, but I digress. The reason I chose Jo wasn’t just because she’s an incredible copywriter. It’s also because she has a reputation for being honest. So I knew she’d tell me if mine was a crap idea (or if she thought I’d be shit at it).
Did she give you a green light for HR copywriting?
Sort of – the conversation went something like this:
Me: “Hey Jo. Could I ask your advice? I keep coming back to the idea of writing about HR rather than actually doing HR. If I search for HR writer/copywriter, not much comes up. Is it not a thing?”
Jo: “Just because no-one else is doing it, doesn’t mean you can’t. In fact, I think you very much can”.
That was all I needed to hear.
Jo had told me I wasn’t totally crazy*. A vague idea became a proper plan. I retrained, and now I’m a bonafide HR copywriter (whatever that means).
So, here I am:
Wife. Mum. Copywriter. Former HR consultant and practitioner.
*Full disclosure: she didn’t say I was or I wasn’t, just that it was entirely possible I’d come up with an idea that could (with a load of planning, some more training and a massive amount of effort) become a business.
Want to know specifics about how an HR copywriter can help you? Hop over to look at services you might need.