Clear Communications

I once had a consulting client show me a photo that made me want to both laugh and cry. The client worked for a clothing company. He had purchased a shipment of shirts from an overseas manufacturer. The photo was of a box of neatly folded shirts, each with a price tag attached to the tag in the neck. Okay so far, but when you looked closely at the price tag you could see that the tag was inside of a very small zip-top bag.

When my client opened the shipment, he was puzzled. Why were the shirts not wrapped, and why was there a bag on the price tag? He looked at the purchase order and it said “Shirt – folded – price tag attached – in bag.” (Yes, this is a true story.) The client had received 1,000 of exactly what he’d asked for – especially from someone with a limited command of the English language.

I think that I have a reasonably good command of the English language and I regularly see applicant communications that I don’t understand. Sometimes people accidentally forget to type a crucial word and the sentence doesn’t make sense. Sometimes spell-check corrects their mistake by picking a word that they didn’t intend. Sometimes they are just poor communicators. Fortunately, I don’t have to stop and figure out what they were trying to say, I simply move on to the next resume.

When you are communicating in writing, you must get it right – the first time. When the recipient of your message can’t hear your voice or see your body language, they can’t tell if you are joking, if you are confused, or if you just can’t communicate well. If you want to ensure that your message is received correctly, it must be perfect.

Use the tools you have available. Always set your word processor and email system to spell check before you send. Make sure have not confused weather with whether, to with two or too, or their and there. Reread your document aloud and make sure it sounds the way you want it. If necessary, have someone else check it before you send it.

This is all about attention to detail, and inattention will get your resume left behind. When you send in an application for new job, make sure you’re not sending in a price tag in a teeny-tiny plastic bag.

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.

What’s In A Name?

Any Shakespeare fans out there? You’ve hear this phrase before, but did you know it is from a piece of classic literature?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.”

This is a lovely sentiment, and when it comes a person’s given name it’s probably true. For the most part, we can’t control the names given to us by our parents. Sure, you could change it or go by a nickname, but your name is your name, and it’s part of who you are.

The same cannot be said of your email address. Maybe it’s because I’m just old and grumpy, but I think if you are going to go out into the professional job market and look for professional job, you should take the ten minutes that are required to set up a professional sounding email address.

As an HR person I see lots of emails and resumes, and if Shakespeare is right, it shouldn’t matter; but I have trouble sending a job offer to I have a friend whose high school nickname was Pammy-Cakes. That makes a great personal email address for her – or for Facebook – but not a resume. Does it help or hurt if you apply for job with the email LovesToCook14 or GolfAddict27?  Unless you are applying to be a cook or golf pro, I suggest it hurts.

Set up an email address that is a variant of your name like bob.smith, bsmith2014, robert.m.smith, whatever. You may need a use a number that makes it unique (there are lots of Bob Smiths) but don’t use your birth year- they don’t need to know how old you are.

I’ve written before about the importance of a first impression. Don’t let that impression be marred because the recruiter’s gets an email from

BTW – The quote is from Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II – Juliet says this to Romeo suggesting that she has no problem with him being a Montague when she’s a Capulet. Now you have some culture in your job search. 🙂

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.