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.