February 27, 2012 by asteffann
Today I came across an article by the managing editor of Business Insider that reiterated something my mother taught me at a young age:
Thank you notes matter.
When I was in college, searching for my first job in business, I wrote these on the typewriter in my room. In each note, I was sure to do all of the following:
- Spell the interviewer’s name properly
- Say something that indicated I remember what we discussed in the interview
- Reiterate my interest in the position
- Say something about why I would be a good fit for the job
All of this was done with proper block format and then I signed the letters by hand. These letters were always mailed within a day or two. Waiting more than a week was considered lax.
It’s not surprising, in the digital age, that emailing such a letter is considered acceptable. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should slip into sloppy habits like those you’d use when emailing friends. Despite the temptation to think of it as just a causal missive, you always have to remember that you will be judged one more time by the content and style of this email. In fact, as this article points out, your worst mistake of all is not bothering to send one.
Whether you’re applying for an administrative, a technical, or an executive job, give this article a look. It provides compelling evidence that even those of us who do not envision using writing in their careers are still going to need to express themselves clearly and persuasively to get ahead.
Category advice | Tags: jobs | Comments Off on Want That Job? Don’t Forget to Write!
December 6, 2011 by asteffann
A friend of mine from my advertising days posted this link today, and I couldn’t agree with it more.
Whether it’s in business or in academics, many of us are feeling overloaded with jargon. Writing is needlessly complicated. Meaning is lost. Sincerity is compromised.
I really appreciate what Dan Palotta has to say in this post called I Don’t Understand What Anyone is Saying Anymore and I challenge myself and all of my students to be less concerned with sounding “smart” and become more concerned with clarity!
Category advice, gripes, writing styles | Tags: | Comments Off on Say What?!
September 25, 2011 by asteffann
In my first advertising job, I was fortunate enough to work in the presence of a seasoned copywriter named Luke Sullivan. I was just a lowly assistant account executive, but he was already one of the agency greats and I knew it. Eventually, I moved on to advance my account management career in another city, at other agencies. One day, after nearly ten years, I left the business and became a teacher of writing.
On a chilly night in 2009, I was looking for a book in a deserted section of the George Mason University library, to support an article I was writing for graduate degree. To my surprise, I pulled a book off the shelf that was authored by Luke Sullivan. Of course I read it cover-to-cover with glee. I recognized so much of what he described in the book, and I really appreciated his wisdom about how to write great ads and how to work with people of all types.
I’m telling you all of this because Luke recently wrote a post for his blog Hey Whipple that touches on a topic so many of us can relate to. He suggests learning to turn off distractions when we’re writing…for any reason. We think we can multi-task but, as he argues, that tendency can really just be a disguise for all kinds of procrastination. Next time you’re blocked on a paper, try pulling out the earbuds, turning off the smartphone, and closing Facebook. You might surprise yourself with how much you can achieve!
Check Luke Sullivan’s blog out – especially if you’re thinking of a career in marketing or advertising…or anything, really. He’s just smart.
Category advice | Tags: multitasking,procrastination,unplugging,writing | Comments Off on Unplug
September 22, 2011 by asteffann
It’s natural to feel frustrated when bosses and professors ask you to write in a way that doesn’t feel natural to you. Many students argue that, if everyone their age talks a certain way, it’s fake to have to change their speaking and writing style to be more formal, just to suit the expectations of people at school and in the workplace. The reality is, however, that how you communicate at school and in the workplace can affect how people view your potential to excel.
When I was a young professional in the early nineties (just starting out) I had to work really hard to get ride of the “valley girl” speak discussed in this brief article I found on CNN. Like the woman who is the subject of the article, I constantly said “like” and ended some of my sentences on “up” notes, making it sound like I was both young and unsure of myself.
Writing in an overly colloquial style can create similar problems in the workplace and in your classes. As a result, I try to stress to all my students that their conversational ways are not wrong – the are just not appropriate for academic and business writing!
Category advice | Tags: appropriateness,presentation,valley girl,work | Comments Off on Adapting Your Style