Monday, April 19, 2010

Your Job Search: The "Write" Stuff

I've just finished reading two graduate thesis drafts, and the cheery spirit with which I undertook the exercise died a quick but painful death.

Where did we lose control? When did attention to detail...not minute detail; the bold and glaring stuff!...get discarded as an unnecessary requirement?

It's bad enough that the grammar was ungrammatical, and the sentence structure was unstructured. Some sentences weren't even sentences; they were (sort of) phrases with missing pieces that left me questioning my own reading ability.

The thing that sticks in my craw (never used that word before and always have wanted to!) is that these aren't grade school dropouts, nor are they undergraduates at some matchbook-cover "online college." These are graduate students at a well-respected, real higher education institution.

So who dropped the ball? Who said, "Close enough; I'll pass you."?

The kicker in this rant (I'm allowed one rant per semester!) is that, to add insult to injury, these are communication majors!

My undergraduate students at Curry College...particularly those who have declared Communication as their major...more specifically those who have declared Public Relations as their area of concentration...know my "thing" about writing. They know...or learn very quickly...that I am death on grammar, punctuation, syntax and everything else relating to correct writing.

They also learn quickly that "I didn't have time" or "My printer ran out of ink" (the 21st century version of "The cat ate my homework.") won't work either. Sloppy writing and editing are just that...sloppy writing and editing. Good writing...correct writing...takes time and patience.

Hopefully, and I do cling desperately to that ever-so-elusive hope, what these future professionals take away...other than a recognition that life is all about the knowledge that attention to detail is paramount. And, regardless of the medium that one is using to communicate, writing clearly, concisely and correctly is nonnegotiable.

I actually have turned away a couple of would-be adjunct faculty members because of errors in their cover letters and/or resumes, so it's not just confined to the student side of the picture. But, or so I believe, the students are, for the most part, salvageable if only we, the professionals, take time to show them the right way to write.

The take-away here, for students in particular but truly for anyone whose livelihood includes writing of some form or fashion, is the demand for good, accurate writing will not go away. A misspelling is a misspelling, and your credibility as a communicator or as a business person will be tarnished.

"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all." - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (preface)


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