Proof or Consequences

A client recently shared an email he had received from a “competitor” in his industry. The author of the email was attempting to position himself as an expert in their trade and belittle my client for his unique style of doing business. The email carried a negative tone and read as a stream of consciousness rant that was written in the late hours of the night with a bottle of scotch and a splash of venom.


It was quite obvious that the author did not proofread his document. The absence of punctuation and the six misspelled words did not compare to the closing statement:


“There is no room in our industry for people like you who insist on going rouge.”


Let’s see, the dictionary defines “rouge” as:


rouge n


Red or pink makeup in powder or cream form used to add color to the cheeks or lips or to accentuate the shape of the cheekbones.


A spellchecker will recognize “rouge” as being spelled correctly as easily as it will accept the spelling of the appropriate word rogue.


When you unintentionally misuse or misspell a word, you appear to be uneducated and your entire message loses any sense of credibility. As our poison penned emailer may put it: “You’re nothing but a scoundrel with rosy red cheeks.”


It is up to the writer to pay close attention to the content in their emails and letters. Words have many meanings. Read the letter out loud (we catch more mistakes that way) or have another person proof your work before you send your lyrical literature into the atmosphere.


When a client sends a letter for me to review and they tell me it was mailed yesterday, I’m wondering why they are wasting my time. I’m there to proof their work and maybe save them from embarrassment. I usually find several mistakes and will highlight their errors and send the document back for their wall of shame. Proofreading a document after it has been mailed is like closing the barn door after the horse ran away.


Read your documents out loud. Have a friend or loved one read it as well. Then reread it two or three more times. Walk away from an email you have written and reread it an hour later. You may have a new thought or perspective to share before you finally push “send”.


When your cover letter and resume are reviewed by hiring managers and they see inconsistencies, grammatical mistakes or spelling errors – what kind of impression are you making? When you express that you are “Detail Oriented” in your Profile and your resume is full of errors, do you think they will take you seriously?


If I see mistakes in a letter or resume it tells me the writer simply does not care. If I were making the decision to select this person for an interview, I would disqualify them immediately. Check the documents that you currently have online with the Job Boards, LinkedIn and all of your social media sites. There is a strong likelihood that you will find a mistake – hopefully not too embarrassing.


You only have one chance to make a first impression.


Excerpt from the book “How To Succeed In Spite Of Yourself” by John Singer

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