Communication can impact your career advancement more than you may realize.
Do you judge a book by its cover?
If you’re like most people you do. If the cover doesn’t appeal to you, you don’t even open the book to see if you might be interested.
I’m not saying whether this is right or wrong, but only pointing out how true it is for so many people.
With that in mind, what cover are you presenting about yourself? Does your communication reflect the level of professionalism that you want to project?
Communication Says A Lot About You
In today’s age of Facebook, Twitter, and instant messaging, we often communicate with others via social media. Additionally, social media makes it easy to be sloppy with English, grammar, and punctuation.
That’s OK for the most part. However, many people continue this with their email communication and they don’t seem to realize how much it impacts their ability to move up in their career.
They miss out on available opportunities, often without even being aware of them.
As an example, I was looking for someone to help out on a part-time basis as a virtual assistant.* I thought the best person would be someone familiar with IT and the ability to learn. I started scanning emails I received from people. Here are a few snippets:
“I was wondering f the full package only good for 30 days or is it longer”
“hello, i appreciate the site you have with the info regarding infosec! i
currently have my A+, ive taken the net+005 course but its since been
updated to 006 so i have (x’s book) to self study
the differences. after that i do plan to do sec+ but from there i find
myself referencing your site.”
“I would like to say thank you for putting together the Security+ preparation
guides below. I utilized them in my preparation for two-three weeks, and
passed the exam this morning with a score of 836. The performance portion
was challenging. But overall, I believe your materials were instrumental in
getting the fundamentals for the exam.”
“do you have anything that explains how to read IDS and server traffic?
there is a practical question on the exam that asks you to identify
which systems on the network have been (…content deleted – violates NDA).”
“between the 30 day practic test and 60 days p what is the differance..?”
If you were looking for someone to help you with a professional job, which one would you consider? Which ones might you dismiss without giving it another thought?
Take this a step further. If your boss is looking to promote someone, it’s very likely that your day-to-day communication will be a big part of the consideration.
You’re Almost Always Auditioning
Admittedly, none of these people were asking me for a job. However, I used their communication with me as an audition.
Most people know the importance of ensuring their resume is free from typos and includes proper grammar and punctuation.
However, they ignore these guidelines in other communication including emails to hiring managers. At the most basic level, they look at emails from potential employees.
- Does it include proper use of upper case and lower case? or is case ignored
- Does it include proper use of punctuation? or is a paragraph a long string of ideas and questions without any commas or periods even if it does include positive statements about the company or the hiring manager it may be completely unreadable and trashed before the hiring manager even makes it to this word
- Does it include multiple typos? Most people accept a typo or two in email communications. However, when an emmail is ridedled with typoes, it communicates a complete and udder lack of attention to detail orientation.
- Does it spell the name of the hiring manager correctly? People have been ‘correcting’ the spelling of my name (Darril) since I was a kid and it doesn’t bother me, but this really irritates some hiring managers.
- Does it ask questions that are already answered on the company’s website (such as on the FAQ or About page)? Finding the answer on your own instead of asking someone else to find it for you shows initiative. Not doing so indicates the inability (or unwillingness) to learn.
It’s your choice of course, but just as you often judge books by their covers, others do too. People judge others by their physical appearance. When they can’t see them, they judge others by their digital appearance – what they write in their communications.
The good news is that you can present the best possible appearance for yourself by following some basic spelling and grammar rules that most people learned in grade school.
* The job is filled. I’m not seeking another virtual assistant at this time.