Are You Communicating Professionally?By
If you frequently use your cell phone to send text messages or emails, you probably use a lot of acronyms to reduce the amount of typing you have to do on that tiny keyboard. You may even use some of these shortcuts in your other communications, whether out of habit or just to save time.
If you’re sending a personal email, you can probably get away with using Internet slang and acronyms. You can probably even make grammar and spelling mistakes, and your friends will still like you, because they already know what a wonderful person you are.
But remember: when you’re sending out resumes, cover letters, or other job search documents, the recipient usually knows nothing about you except what they see on the page or on their computer screen. Just one spelling or grammatical error might be all it takes to eliminate you from being considered as a potential employee. Even a simple typo might give the impression that you don’t pay attention to details, a critical trait for many positions. And using “NetLingo” in a professional document will definitely not earn you any points!
Spell checkers can be wonderful things, when used properly, but overreliance on them can create a whole new set of problems! The following are all real examples of the misuse of spell checkers that I have run across.
Pay attention to what the spell checker is recommending. One of my former co-workers created a form letter with “Hamilton, Entire” in the return address, because the spell checker didn’t recognize “Ontario” and suggested “Entire” as an alternative. That letter was sent out to hundreds of people before the error was caught.
Don’t trust the spell checker to catch all of your mistakes. Just because the word you’ve typed was found in the dictionary doesn’t mean you’ve typed the correct word. I’ve seen countless resumes where the job applicant is looking for work or has experience as a “manger” or in “costumer service.”
Be careful when using the “add to dictionary” function. If you accidentally add a word that is spelled incorrectly, it will never again be caught by the spell checker. If you’re anything like me, you’re apt to make the same typing mistakes over and over, so this can be a real problem, and to fix it, you’ll need to figure out how to edit your user dictionary.
Because it’s common today for employers to check out candidates online presence as part of their screening process, anything you post publicly on the Internet should be subject to the same scrutiny as your career documents. Avoid careless spelling or grammar mistakes, profanity, or inappropriate comments about your current or past employers.
In the case of important documents, I highly recommend getting someone else to take a look at your work before you send it out. Even good spellers and proficient keyboarders make mistakes, and it’s often difficult to spot your own errors, because your mind already knows what it should say, so that’s what it sees.
Janet Barclay is a former employment counsellor who helps career practitioners and other clients to optimize their online presence by creating websites and blogs as well as providing blog promotion, proofreading and editing, content management, and WordPress technical support services. She can be reached through her website www.organizedassistant.com.