19 May 2010

Career advice

The DayJob(tm) is hiring and received notifications I'm scheduled for a couple up coming interviews. A couple words of advice for people in the job market: (primarily for noob's as experienced seekers already know this)

* You already know to search yourself on the internet and scrub any "marginal" content. You know we will search you out to see if what you tell us about yourself matches what we find on the web.

* Make absolutely sure your written correspondence is impeccable. Here's a proofreader's trick: start at the bottom right corner of your document and read each word backwards. Reading it normally, your mind fills in the blanks. Reading it backwards destroys the context and allows concentrating on individual words. As an interviewer I'll point out any typos I find for two reasons. One to see how they handle the challenge and also as feed back so they can correct the error going forward.

Which brings me to this. We are judged on our communication skills. People form a perception of us by our communication skills, both written and oral. Personally I stutter a bit which drags me down on the oral side. But I try to make up for it on the written side by being extra vigilant for typos and grammo's (Grammatical errors).

This applies several orders of magnitude to PR people. Your entire job is to represent your organization to the public. This is mostly done indirectly by communicating to other professional communicators (the media) whom you want to disseminate your carefully crafted message to the public. Absolutely everything must be picture perfect. So what opinion do you think I formed when I pulled up this:Blithering idiots.

I haven't read a word of your message and you've already communicated your intellectual status. You're idiots. Oh sure you're going to lay the blame on some low level web person. No sale. I know how it works, you emailed them a file and they posted it. Why should they review it, after all, they are low level websters and you are high level PR mavens. Also, you are responsible for everything that goes out to the public.

P.S. I'm not perfect. I'm a good speler but a lousy typir;) But I care enough to proofread repeatedly and fix immediately because I understand the perception.


Anonymous said...

Just the opposite. MS Word and most internet browsers have an automatic spell check. Not so for the file-namer, or most comment windows.

A typo that ruins the meaning is a big deal. A typo where the meaning is still clear is of no consequence.

When I see somebody whining about a typo, I know that's a bad employee and a bad employer. I'd much rather have folks working on a web page spend their time filling it with useful content, rather than having layers of checkers. A broken web-link, or not posting business hours, or posting a PO box but not the physical address when I need to figure out how to drive there.

danno said...

Thanks for weighing in but I cannot agree. Spell checkers have gotten pretty good but they are still not perfect. I found an error in a legal document where the spell checker had changed the word into something that made no sense.

I recall an airline CEO comment that passengers form their perception of the airline from what they see. If a customer pulls down a tray table and finds it dirty they immediately wonder about the engine maintenance. He concluded with "...so we have the cleanest tray tables in the industry."

Perception is reality.

You perceive I'm a whiner/bad employee/bad employer (or something). That's your reality and that's OK. I'm not trying to get you to buy anything from me.

OTOH, Sheriff Joe asks for my vote every four years and I can be called to jury duty. My perception is they are careless.