The Lazarus Horse.
Heard of beating a dead horse? That’s probably how most feel about my endless advice on seemingly mundane topics. But some horses come back to life, and so, the time comes to address an issue once again. We must stress the importance of writing coherently and clearly. We all fall into the pit of typos and/or iPhone touch disease, and it’s not the biggest deal in the world to make a mistake. That said, when you are composing an e-mail or sending any kind of information to anyone, especially a potential employer, mentor, or someone in the same line of work as you, it makes good sense to proofread the missive and make sure that it accurately conveys what you want it to say.
As an example: Couple of weeks ago a friend of mine was having some kind of exchange about testing in his line of work. The person writing my friend wrote something along the lines of “bus the ny test.” Simply put, we have no way of knowing why that message went out or what it meant, but we do know that it looks really silly. And in the eyes of people that are looking at potentially employing you for a job that has to do exclusively with typing words correctly, such mistakes can be fatal to any prospective employment.
So, a few common tips for getting through the day without e-mail blunders:
- Take a pause and reread things prior to sending.
- Consider whether any terms you use in the correspondence are ambiguous or likely to be misread.
- Consider the connotation of your words. It is generally a bad idea to offend someone you plan to work for or with. As an extreme example, telling someone they are fat and should join your new gym is basically the same message as telling someone that you have just started working out at this amazing new gym and that they should give it a try. If a message must be sent, consider how the other person will read it.
- Spellcheck your communications. Google Docs offers a spellcheck if your e-mail service and/or browser does not.
The best way to get good at something is to practice it. Many say that they needn’t worry about proofreading personal e-mails and that they are professional and careful when it comes to business e-mails. Unfortunately, if you spend 90% of your time writing like garbage, and 10% of it writing beautifully, that 90% of your muscle memory and bad habits will always be trying to creep into your 10% of beautiful writing. Try the alternative. Build good habits and write with purpose. Practice consistently and you will see improvement on and off the job.