What job seekers ought to know about writing

words from a typewriterSarah Lay wrote recently about the Fear of Writing for the Weekly Blog Club, a great new idea for 2012 which gives those who want it the added impetus of a weekly deadline to get their blogging mojo on and get writing.

That post has prompted me to think about how important it still is, in this day of shortened concentration spans and delivery media, to be able to write.  Well.

I read a lot of marketing blogs in my job and one of my favourites is Copyblogger which talks about the skills of writing and how to improve your own.  It’s for business writing, not necessarily fiction, which is fine since most of the writing I do is geared in one way or another towards the work I do for Learning Pool.

I love this particular post about how nobody ever complained that your writing was too easy to understand, even if it does paint a slightly depressing picture about the reading and writing ability of most Americans. 

Whether this is true or not that there are an awful lot of people out there who can’t or don’t write properly.  I’m talking basic punctuation and grammar, never mind the use of interesting and compelling language.

In today’s job hunting market having a basic command of the written word is even more essential than ever.  As I work through the CV’s and accompanying cover letters for the current vacancies we have at Learning Pool one of the quickest and easiest ways to whittle the list down is to dismiss those who have a spelling mistake or poor grammar in their application.  Four out of five applications get rejected this way.

This might sound harsh but it’s not really.  If you’ve included mistakes in a letter or document that is meant to shape your  future career then you probably don’t have the attention to detail or writing skills that you need to be comfortable working for a demanding start up company.  Better in the long run, for you and the company, not to join at all.

My friend Leanne used to be known as the Apostrophe Queen in our office, so good was she at always knowing when to use that pesky punctuation mark and when not.  She recalls how she learnt the rules after a teacher sent the whole class on a mission to find the worst adverts, notices and posters in shops around the town.  Leanne got the most examples and was subsequently awarded the moniker.

Of course, bad writing can be (unintentionally) entertaining too.  Step forward Ocean Marketting’s Paul Christofo and the massive customer service/marketing fail he provided on behalf of his client, the gaming outfit Avenger Controller, during the Christmas and New Year break. 

If you’ve not already seen this episode of how to insult a customer, wreak havoc with your client’s reputation and destroy your own in the space of ten days then read on.  With thanks to Penny Arcade for publishing in their Just Wow! post.

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6 thoughts on “What job seekers ought to know about writing”

  1. Weekly Blog Club is an ace idea, really enjoying the posts so far. What you’ve written has really chimed with me. I’ve helped to sift CVs for communication jobs before and it’s *amazing* how mistake-laden applications can be – not what you want for anyone, let alone the communications team. Such a shame, because otherwise fantastic candidates may well be discounted due to them not spending just a little more time and effort rectifying simple errors.

  2. This is a great post Janet! Unfortunately, you hit it right on the nose in that on this side of the pond people don’t pay attention to details like grammar and spelling. Of course, the blame gets dumped on social media and how it’s not supposed to be serious or texting and how we don’t have time to properly ‘type’ things out. But it really irks me when people mistake ‘readable’ with poor, low level writing. I’ve been wanting to write a post on why grammar matters! This is a great read!

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