ABC and NBC news today are reporting that beverage manufacturer Red Bull is responding to possible concerns alleging its drink may not give you wings. It struck me as frivolous that anyone would try to grab a moment in the spotlight by allegedly complaining that they did not grow wings–literally or figuratively. But in all things, I try to be sensitive to the other person’s viewpoint. And there may be a point to be learned despite my emotional reaction thinking that too many people must be wearing shoes which are way too tight.
Indeed words are important. No denying that. This Red Bull experience might be useful to remind ourselves that somewhere there will be someone who will be less than satisfied when reading what a writer puts into print. Words make messages. Messages make mental and emotional experiences. So, words are tools. Any tool ought to be used with care.
Job applicants begin with this very tool: words. If job applicants don’t use the tool correctly, they don’t get invited to interviews. At interviews, if job candidates don’t use the right tool, they don’t get invited to sign an employment contract. So, yes, words matter.
If words matter so much, job applicants should take a bit of extra time to validate how their words can potentially affect the recipient. I don’t intend this nugget to become a university curriculum in linguistics or psychology. Rather, a reminder to consider how your job application materials and how what you say during the interview creates images and emotional reactions in the person you are directing it towards. This takes us to the principle of “foreseeable care“.
In the world of worker safety, employers are constantly biting their fingernails wondering if they are doing enough to meet the safety standard, and hazard prevention guidelines, of their industries. They are constantly inventing what-if scenarios and developing responses and preventative methods well in advance of any accident…”foreseeable care”.
I’ve seen many cover letters, hard copy and email correspondence, and even job resumes in which it is clearly demonstrated that the writer did not exercise foreseeable care. Documents important to the job search process that failed the simple test of, “HOW will my words be read and [especially!] perceived by the recipient or decision maker?” Though I won’t embarrass anyone, what I have seen of some communications would likely have damaged the job application process, the chances of getting a job interview, or the opportunity to make a new “connect” on job board or professional social media sites. I’ve read communiques that would have offended, angered, embarrassed, and even insulted the recipient.
When creating documents for the job search and job application process, take a few seconds to put yourself in the shoes of the recipient. Think of THEIR duties, responsibilities, constraints, and impressions. Ask yourself how THEY would perceive your words. Run your document by a trusted mentor. Be sure to avoid sycophants [friends and relatives who love you so much they’d agree and endorse your mistakes with a “yes” instead of a “no”.]
“Foreseeable care” applied to your writing may help you land a job.