I am a huge Agatha Christie fan. Every since her books became my first “adult” reading, with every paperback eagerly consumed, I have been fascinated by mysteries and thrillers.
The opening of, Murder on the Orient Express, the first Agatha Christie adaptation to hit the big screen in a generation, is a welcome excuse to open up one of her most famous, but one of my least read, books.
One of the things about Christie’s writing style is the very neat and methodical way she builds up the plot; even the chapter headings tell you exactly what is going to happen. Chapter Five in Murder on the Orient Express is helpfully entitled, “The Crime”. And even someone with only a passing acquaintance with her works, is all too familiar with the final chapter reveal (“Poirot Propounds Two Solutions”, in MOTOE) when the crime is unveiled for all to witness.
Apart from the excitement of the new film, I was also reminded on the great crimewriter’s work by my other reading matter this week; shortlisting job applicants for a client. Oh for the clarity of the application which used the key requirements in the job specification to provide headings for the information the candidate wished to communicate. All the wonderful prose and eloquent expression of past jobs and achievements is completely lost unless these words are marshalled into a coherant structure. And yes, telling me that you are perfect for the job, but not telling me how your skills fit with those the employer is looking for, is a job seeking crime.
My advice to the large number of candidates whose applications will have been edited out of the selection process, like excess chapters on the ghost writer’s Macbook? Take a leaf out of Dame Agatha’s book:
– keep to the plot (and tell me why your skills fit the job description in question; don’t just tell me all your skills in any order)
– use headings and subheadings to flag to the reader where the vital information they are looking for in your application is; don’t expect them to go searching for hidden clues and definitely do not give them any red herrings
– tie up all of the loose ends in a final paragraph; make your application memorable and conclusive
Follow these simple steps and you too may be on the trail of your blockbuster job.