PR Niblets

Friday, February 14, 2014

Student Job Applicants: Grammar, Spelling, Content and Style Matter!

It's that time of year -- the mad race to secure a job for would-be college graduates.  (Side note: I'm familiar; my son Alex, who posted recently and who has been interning with our firm, has been threatening to graduate for some time now. Maybe this year!)

Graduating students are preparing their game plan for May and beyond when their degree is in hand and their future lives await them. I respect the ones who have started emailing their resumes and applications as early as this fall in order to secure an informational interview and determine the possibility of employment.

But, and it's a big "but...," many are more focused on getting something out the door more than they are in paying attention to the quality of their submissions. In public relations, that's a critical mistake.

Yesterday's e-mail brought a note from an Indiana University student
who is a candidate for a Bachelor of Art Degree in Journalism.  Her home address is in "F.L." and her school address is in Bloomington, "I.N."  In her job experience, we note other creative state abbreviations in non-address block areas: Welcome to the states of "C.T." and "M.A."

Followers of AP style will recoil in horror knowing that AP dictates dictionary abbreviations for state names in copy; two letter abbreviations for addresses on envelopes or in a full address context are fine -- but they are two letter combos as illustrated in the adjacent image.

Another graduating senior, this one from SUNY Binghamton, compliments us in her cover letter as one of the most highly regarded PR companies within the PR industry.  Appreciate the kind words but it feels a bit "boiler-plated." She goes on to tell us she is pursuing "duel" degrees in Philosophy, Politics and Law and History.  I hope she survives her undergraduate work.

A May 2014 would-be graduate from Indiana University who majors in Arts in Communication and Culture (maybe a friend of the above student), tells us she made the "Deans" list (bye-bye apostrophe) and was a writing assistant to a financial services firm in "Shorthills" NJ.  Residents of that hamlet know their town name is comprised of two words, not one. Cue Governor Christie to shut down the mall there.

A SUNY Stony Brook graduate with a degree in sociology and a minor in anthropology explains why her credentials are relevant to a career in PR: 
"As a former Assistant Manager of The Animal Center of Queens, NY, as well as current volunteer of The Heavenly Angels Animal Rescue Inc, NY, I have experience attending to people’s needs on a daily basis. At The Animal Center of Queens, I: cared for the animals daily, performed secretarial duties as needed, managed the front desk where customers came up to, managed and trained volunteers to improve efficiency of the center, and advertised to the public about animal adoptions. As fast-paced as the environment was, I was able to perform all my duties promptly."
Still trying to make sense of it all; we decided to pass on an interview.

Not writing this to be cruel; rather I'm hoping to send a sobering message to job aspirants everywhere: we need and want you. But you must show you have basic skills and care enough about being considered a professional to ensure you read and proof your copy. If you can't do that when you're on your best behavior trying to land employment, how do you think we feel about entrusting you with the reputation of our clients? Proofread!