Recently I was looking over a document that chronicled my job search a few years ago.  I had made notes for all the ads I answered and added to them as I received responses—or didn’t.

Some of the ads made me wonder why I even bothered to write to them.   When writing advertisements, you must include informative details if you want a targeted response.  Many of the ads didn’t.

Example:  Administrative assistant.  Send resume to PO Box XX, City, State, Zip.

Nothing about the company, no name, no way to find out anything.  I sent off a couple of resumes to ads like this, and of course, I heard nothing back.

My perception of whoever had placed that ad was that they didn’t want a response.  Maybe they were trying to avoid phone calls.  Perhaps it was bogus.   Either way, they gave jobseekers no information with which to tailor a resume to the company’s needs.   I had no way to see if it was even a company in my area, even thought the PO box was local.

I saw another in a freelance writing job listing.  A link led to the ad on Craigslist, where the poster, in describing what he/she was looking for, said something like “I want someone quirky and cool, blah blah, etc.  If you’re all businesslike and serious, you’re probably not good enough.” The ad was so snarky it turned me off.  Who would want to work for someone like that?  I’m sure the person who wrote it thought the ad was clever and snappy, but that’s not how it came off at all.

Be careful how you present yourself in writing.  In emails and online communication, nuances of speech like tone and expression don’t come across.  If you want people to take you and your work seriously, you can’t write as if you’re texting your BFF.  Your emails, blog posts and advertisements, even if they are only a postcard on a bulletin board, are representative of your work.

  • Watch your spelling and grammar.  Someone looking for a writer or other professional isn’t going to perceive you as one if you can’t spell or your email answering an ad is full of slang.
  • If you’re posting a job advertisement, give prospective candidates a bit of information.  It’s wasted time for them if they can’t target their job search to appropriate venues.  It’s a waste of your time as well to go through a stack of inappropriate responses.
  • Tone is important.  The snarky ad I mentioned was amusing, until it got to that line about businesslike not being good enough. Although I’m hardly an uptight business type, it gave the impression that the person might be overly critical of someone trying to present as a professional.

If you have any good examples of miscommunication or misperception in email, ads or online communications, please share them in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Perception

  1. Those are some good tips Elizabeth. We can often get or give the wrong perception when communicating electronically. I know I’ve read emails from someone and took it opposite of the way they had intended.

  2. I don’t have any examples I can think of but your post was a good is important for the ad to give a brief statement about the company and what they are looking a respectful way of course. Have a great day!

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