I don’t know if all of you are old enough to remember the CB Radio craze, but it was a fun period in America. I assume some truckers still use this technology, but for most of us it is just a fond memory. I remember how all of us used to talk about our “handles,” and putting the antenna on the top of the car was an absolute must before starting any long trip. (After a while, the static and the rude people on the air did take some of the charm out of it.)
Anyway, many of the elements of the CB Radio craze have valid comparisons to the beginnings of the Internet. AOL was one of the earliest forces in making the Internet user friendly. In the beginning, for example, we all talked about our “screen names.” Sending email was quite a kick. Oh, and the thrill when you signed in and heard “You’ve got mail.” Wow, does life get any better?
Well, the Internet has now been around for a while and some of the newness has certainly worn off. However, stop me if I am wrong, but I am beginning to believe that the Internet is here to stay.
If all of you accept this as true, and I hope you do, it is time for everyone to grow up. Not in the Joan Rivers sense, but in the sense that this is a power tool that you need to master. Being “cutesy” or casual about your email correspondence is no longer appropriate or acceptable.
On a daily basis I would have to tell you that 75% of the email I get lacks a proper outgoing signature. (The minimum is: your name, phone, city/state and email.) This is one of those things that could take all of an hour to learn how to do, and yet, most members of our august body don’t seem to understand how important it is.
Not only is this true, but sometimes the “name” at the top includes a spouse because this is how the account was set up. Sharing an email address is simply inappropriate if you want to be viewed as a professional. And, the place to change it isn’t that hard to find. Again, it may take as much as an hour. Oh, and the From address should be properly upper and lower cased.
The very same folks who when they realized they would be unemployed rushed out to get business cards with their proper name, full home address, home phone, home fax, cell phone and email address seem to think that signing their emails to me, “Regards, John” is okay.
Sure, as chairman of The FENG I am blessed with a secret decoder ring and a detective’s sense of research, but most of those to whom you are sending your missives are more likely to hit the delete key than scratch their heads and try to figure out who you are.
As important to this process as anything is the correctness, with regard to spelling and sentence construction, in every message you send out electronically. When in doubt, check it out. (Catchy phrase, don’t you think?) If you aren’t good at spelling, write your email messages in Word and then copy and paste them into your email message. Yes, I know it is an extra step, but it is important that you appear to those you are trying to impress to be as intelligent as I KNOW you are.
If you feel handicapped by the visual cues that are missing in a telephone conversation, think how significantly greater the email challenge is. There isn’t a single note I ever write that I don’t check, and I do write to more than a few folks every day. (I won’t even count the evening newsletter.)
Coming up with an email address that looks “corporate” doesn’t take long either. Yes, I know that one you started life with has meaning to YOU, but does Joe245@aol.com mean anything to the rest of the world? And, what is the likelihood that firstname.lastname@example.org is going to be seen correctly as BarryL1@gmail.com? Yet, I see this problem frequently. Every once in a while the email address on someone’s resume is wrong. (Yes, that does make it hard to get back to them.)
If I thought that picking an email address was difficult, clearly naming the files that are attached also seems to involve no thinking on the part of those sending them. The simple solution is to simply use your LastnameFirstnameMI.doc. It is simple and clear who sent it, and if it finds its way to my hard drive, it won’t overwrite all those resume.doc’s that others have sent me.
Keep in mind that sending two files is probably not a good idea. Your email is your cover letter (which is why it has to be professional in appearance and content), and then you can attach your resume as a single file. (Hopefully with an appropriate name.) Of course, if you name it ResumeRev57.doc, I will know that you really worked on it.
All email communication needs to be given the serious attention to detail that it deserves. Taking a “Hey good buddy” approach just isn’t going to cut it.
On such an important issue as this passing fancy called the Internet, it is an approach I would recommend to all of you.