Are you looking for a new job? And has anyone told you that good, grammatically correct writing doesn’t matter for a job “like this?” Well, they’re wrong. Here’s why, and here’s how to get yourself ahead of the posse in the increasingly competitive job market.
Good writing skills are not about being snotty
Many people – especially among some teenagers attending high school – think it’s not “cool” to worry too much about good grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax and so-on.
Now, they may be right. Stuff like that doesn’t matter if you see yourself always in a low-paid, boring job … maybe chasing dreams in the music business (but what happens when you’re older!) … or hugging trees in a valid but unlikely-to-be-long-term career that will pay your bills and help you bring up a family.
Sorry to be boring, guys, but it’s true.
But it doesn’t matter online. Or does it?
If all you do is rap with your pals on Instagram, Snapchat or similar platforms then no, maybe it doesn’t matter (but it can – see below).
On the other hand if you’re using social media to get yourself known and as a springboard to a better job, then … oh, boy. DOES it matter.
Much as the social media platforms may disagree, I think it’s fair to say that WHATEVER you write on those platforms, no matter how secure your settings, are potentially viewable by prospective employers to whom you apply for jobs, checking you out.
The internet can be a very, very small world
I may be slapped down for saying this but having heard many stories about the “long arm of coincidence” it makes me realise that the internet is actually not much bigger, where you personally are concerned, than the circle of friends, colleagues, potential employers, etc. that you would hang around with offline.
Let’s check out a little scenario here. You have a very nice, correctly written and targeted profile on LinkedIn, but over on Facebook or Instagram you share all the fun stuff – drunken parties, silly nights out clubbing, etc.
Now of course your Facebook settings are private or so you think.
However one of your friends has a friend of a friend who works for a recruitment company in town.
You have been applying for jobs there and are hopeful of getting one at a bank downtown.
For more articles and tutorials on job search, including Lynn Tulip’s excellent series “The Write Way to Get a Job,” click right here on HTWB. And for more articles and tutorials on grammar, spelling, punctuation and more, click here.
After you posted a particularly naughty selfie or 6 of yourself and friends getting bladdered last Saturday night, the friend of the friend thought it was funny and mentioned it to his buddy the recruiter.
“Oh that’s my pal Jim all over, you know, Jim Taylor, from over Belletown way. He’s out of a job right now so I guess that’s why he was letting his hair down.”
Do you get my drift? OK. That’s one reason why ALL your social media content should be “Safe For Work,” yes – even if it’s set to private and friends only.
But do we really need to write correctly online?
Yes. Whether we like it or not, when recruiters and potential employers are checking out job applications, they will usually check out your social media presence.
When I work with high school students talking about their employment journey in the future, I usually see their eyes glaze over when I tell them that it’s important to get their grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax right because it will matter in their careers. Here’s a typical dialogue between me and one of these lovely kids…
ME: “Do you get why I’m saying this?”
STUDENT: “No, I just want to be a professional football (soccer) player. Don’t need to be good at spelling and grammar and stuff for that.”
ME: “OK, but how are you going to get into football, assuming you haven’t been talent-spotted yet?”
STUDENT: “Oh, I’m going to volunteer as a football coach for the junior teams at our local football club.”
ME: “Sounds like a great idea! How do you get that job?”
STUDENT: “I guess I’ll just have to fill out a form or write them a letter, or something.”
ME: “Seems likely. How many others will be after that volunteering job, especially as it could be a stepping stone into professional football?”
STUDENT: “Quite a lot, I guess. Yeah.”
ME: “Right. There’s every chance that most of those applications will be filled out by people who think like you do – spelling, grammar and punctuation don’t matter. But supposing your application has no mistakes in it. Where do you think it will be in that pile of applications?”
ME: “You would be surprised how many people are very fussy about good writing skills. And whether it’s true or not, most people hiring staff reckon candidates who write correctly are going to be more professional and dedicated than those who don’t. So if your application shows you take the trouble to make your writing good, it will be at the top of the pile.”
And that’s where I stand back and watch the light bulb flash on.
Remember, taking care to make sure your writing is good and correct, is not about being persnickety or a member of the Grammar Police. It’s about two very basic and essential elements in your career:
1.Good, clear, correct writing makes you look professional and sincere about your work, job, business or other activity, so setting you ahead of the posse.
2.Good, clear, correct writing makes sure people understand what you are communicating with minimum risk of a potentially expensive misunderstanding.
Now, what have I forgotten?
Please share your views here!