Reporter’s Notebook: If The Job Offer Letter Is Poorly Written…

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Image courtesy of ningmilo at FreeDigitalPhoto.com

Recently I moved and needed to update my resume on LinkedIn, About.me, and all the job boards. Shortly afterwards, this item of questionable origin barged its way into my email.

Submitted for your edification, observe how you feel as you go through the email; gauge how the typos and grammatical errors make you neither trust nor want to work for this business— whatever it is.

By no means is my writing perfect, but I do respect my readers enough to attempt a quality effort. Consider how other people might feel reading your work when you don’t take the time to edit after writing.

Charity Guzman (LatifahGonzalez@hotmail.com) viamailgun.org

Good morning Anthony Scialis,

My name is Charity Guzman, I’m one of managers with the Recruiting Division. I spotted your CV online, and I think that you would be a great candidate for a recently announced job of a Shipping Agent with our Courier Department. Due to the start of a high season our client list has was extended greatly, which is why we’re now looking for more people to work remotely.

We offer a decent remuneration along with convenient part-time hours and other benefits. If you’re interested in this vacancy and are currently located in the United States, please reply to apply for it at your earliest convenience. This is a unique opportunity to start a carrer in a vibrant and growing team as well as obtain extra income working from home.

Yours sincerely,
Your Potential Employer

Charity Guzman (LatifahGonzalez@hotmail.com) First off, why is Charity using Latifah’s hotmail account for a business? For that matter why is a seemingly international import business using a Hotmail account (nothing wrong with Hotmail, but a sizable percentage of businesses would have their own name.com).

I’m one of managers with the Recruiting Division In case you didn’t notice, nowhere does it tell me the name of the company. (Also it should be “I am one of the managers…”)

Due to the start of a high season our client list has was extended greatly... Proper grammar would dictate a comma after “season.” Proper proof reading would have determined as to which verb to use “has or was.” (Actually “has been” or “was”).

If you’re interested in this vacancy and are currently located in the United States, please reply to apply for it at your earliest convenience. Since she indicated spotting my CV, didn’t she read my address as well? Rest of sentence has awkward construction of “reply to apply for it at.”

This is a unique opportunity to start a carrer Typo on “career.” At least I hope it is a typo and not a misspelling.

Yours sincerely,Your Potential Employer No signature or title; yes she mentions early on that she is a manager with the Recruiting Division, but proper business etiquette expects a name, title and personal contact info. And the company name.

Oh, and if you clever readers out there are going to say, but Anthony, it’s an international company that probably used cheap translation software-— well that says something too, doesn’t it?

So, boy & girls, ladies & gentlemen of the jury, would you bother applying, let alone wish to work for— or purchase products/services from— a company that issues something as poorly constructed as this?

The written word is still quite powerful.

(Image courtesy of ningmilo at Free DigitalPhotos.net)

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Reporter’s Notebook: Intro Paragraph, Set Your Hook

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Introductory paragraphs can be like a fishing trip: full of information, but if you pack the wrong hooks and lures, the rest of the trip will be a disaster.

Jeff Bullas recently outlined three of many literary devices to enhance the enticement and engagement levels of your first paragraph. Give it a read. http://anysnapshot.com

My thoughts are:

Questions. I’ve found asking a question to be among the most intriguing openings. By posing a question right away, you drive readers to thinking, you challenge them to come up with an answer, an answer that lies beneath the waves of paragraphs to come.

State Facts. On the other hand, years of writing experience have led me to accept statistics and percentages as the most difficult hook, because if done improperly you turn off readers and they swim away. Bullas dresses this up by suggesting you attribute the facts to a person, thus making the numbers come alive.

Quotable Quote. I’ve used these in a number of my previous blogs. Find something catchy that relates to your topic to set the mood, while at the same time “giving away” the sense of what story you are about to tell.

Metaphor. This is an additional option I would suggest; in fact I employed it to kick off this blog. It also sets the reader off into a thinking mode, anxious to read on.

And that is the goal of the first paragraph, isn’t it?

Reporter’s Notebook: Putting Punctuation in Its Place on National Punctuation Day

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The Rules of Grammar, unlike Captain Jack Sparrow’s “Pirate’s Code,” are not merely guidelines. Nor are the rules in existence to make your life more difficult. They enable readers to better understand your words, phrases, and sentences– or words, phrases and sentences depending on whether or not you are an advocate of the Oxford comma (if you don’t know what I mean by that side reference, perhaps you should look it up).

Punctuation Cookies For National Punctuation Day

Punctuation Cookies For National Punctuation Day (Photo credit: DavidErickson)

To dot the “i” and cross the “t” on this topic, look no further than Tuesday, 9/24/13: National Punctuation Day.

In its (not it’s) 10th year, the celebration offers a website with pictures, videos and suggestions to point out the correct and incorrect use of the apostrophe, brackets, colon, comma, dash, ellipsis, exclamation point, hyphen, parentheses, period, question mark, quotation mark and semicolon.

For example, look at the article that recounts the tale of the $2-million comma. It has more to do with a contract than with article writing, but the point of proper placement is made.

Essay and Twitter contests  are also a part of the celebration website link (highlighted below).


National Punctuation Day

Reporter’s Notebook: Bloggers Stop Whining, You ARE Reporters!

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Newspapers B&W (3)

Newspapers B&W (3) (Photo credit: NS Newsflash)

Face it, with the impending demise of print, bloggers are the new wave of columnists: reporters with opinions. You have a responsibility to check your facts, substantiate your opinions, and present it all in an understandable manner. Stop whining that you don’t have to do that.

Far from wanting to be Patrolman Pat of the Punctuation Police, my hope is to draw upon over 40 years in print & broadcast media to curate some tips on writing. And occasionally take a jab at media issues.

Too often I’ve trudged through blogs and articles which are mangled grammatically; they are weighed down with words misspelled or misused because authors lazily relied on a spell check crutch rather than a working knowledge of the tools of their craft.

If you’re going to write, please know the difference between “it’s” and “its”  or the value to rhythm/readability when choosing among simple, compound and complex sentences.

I’m not perfect. Neither is my writing. But I care. Let me pass on something a journalism professor once told me.

“There are hundreds of people out there than can write better than you ever will. The difference is you care. That’s what sets you apart. That’s what makes you a journalist. You care about the words you select and the thoughts expressed. You write not just for the sake of writing or to hear your literary voice, but to share information with a community of readers that you care about. Don’t let them down.”

When you, as a writer, as a reporter, don’t care enough to check the simple things like spelling, how can anyone trust that you properly researched your facts? You insult your readers’ intelligence. The internet is vast. Readers can oh so easily go elsewhere.