Details, schmetails. Who cares about them these days? With all of the social media posts, texts, IMs and emails flying, what’s a typo here and there, or a misused word? No biggie, right? When it comes to making a first impression, that school of thought couldn’t be more wrong.
Early on in my PR career, detail orientation was hammered home. It started with a college PR professor of mine who would automatically fail students with one typo or error in their press release writing assignment. Now, after 20 years, it’s practically a sickness that plagues me wherever I go – reviewing typo-ridden restaurant menus, error-filled preschool newsletters and even symphony programs (poor flut player).
Every year, as school winds down and college graduates begin the job hunt, my inbox fills up with resumes. I am still surprised by the number of resumes that come across my desk that are less than perfect – not in experience, but in copy. You can be brilliant and creative, a whiz at social media, have a degree from a prestigious university, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you send a cover email riddled with errors. The reality is, with 40,000 emails littering my inbox, a cover letter/resume with even a single typo WILL be deleted. Here’s why:
1) Respect: Show respect for your reader – both their time and their intelligence. If you don’t care enough to proofread your subject line, why should your reader care enough to read your email?
2) Professionalism: We are in the communications business and with that comes a level of professionalism and quality. Just as our clients expect professionalism, we expect the same from anyone who wants to join our team.
3) Reputation: Aspiring to be a “C” student is not a great selling point. Start out on the right foot by going for the “A” – give it your personal best and you’ll have a reputation for detail orientation and solid work.
There’s only one chance to make a first impression, so please think twice before hitting send. Don’t rely only on spell check (I can’t tell you how many cover emails I have seen from candidates professing their interest in pubic relations). Slow down and proof your work. Have a friend read your email. Save a draft and come back to it with a fresh eye later. Read it aloud. Show me that you’re professional, committed and eager to do your best.
Craft your email like a freshly pressed interview suit and I’ll likely hit open – which may open doors for you.