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In-Depth Information
Written Communication
Avoiding Common Mistakes in Written
Most written communication errors can be easily avoided, yet are often overlooked. It's
particularly important to catch writing errors on a personal Web site or online resume,
which often help determing the fi rst impression that a colleague or potential employer
forms of you. Whether you are pressed for time, don't pay attention to detail, or have
never learned the basics of good writing in the fi rst place, these guidelines should help
turn your writing into works you can be proud to claim.
Plan and Focus Your Writing
• Think about your audience. Who will read what you write? What knowledge do they
already possess, and what attitudes might they have about your subject? Who will be
viewing your Web documents, and what will they expect to see?
• Be clear about why you are writing in the fi rst place. Are you writing to inform, or
do you want action to be taken? Do you hope to change a belief or simply state your
position? For a personal Web site or resume, make sure you understand what informa-
tion potential employers and professional contacts will mostly likely be looking for.
• Research your topic. Provide all the necessary information the reader will need to
make a decision or take action, if needed. If facts are included, be sure you can
substantiate them. For a resume, ensure all your dates are accurate, and look up the
exact names of organizations, institutions, and endorsements.
• Don't be afraid to rewrite or revise. If it's an important document, consider having
someone else read it so you can determine whether your meaning is clear. At a mini-
mum, read what you have written out loud to determine whether the message and
impact come across as you intended. For online documents, continue the revision
process on a regular basis so your documents do not become inaccurate or outdated.
Check Grammar and Spelling
Text editing programs remove all excuses for not checking your spelling and grammar in
written communications. Keep in mind that spellchecking doesn't catch every error, so
be sure to review your work carefully. Hiring managers are often inundated with resumes
for a job opening, and an error in spelling or grammar is sometimes all it takes for an
otherwise promising application to be rejected.
Set the Right Tone
When you write informal communications, you may use abbreviated or incomplete sen-
tences and phrases or slang. In the workplace, however, you must carefully consider the
tone of your written communication so you don't unintentionally offend your readers.
Using contractions is considered friendly and is usually all right, but it is never accept-
able to use offensive language. Anything you post about yourself online may be viewed
by colleagues or a prospective employer, no matter how informal the context, so be sure
that anything you write refl ects well on you.
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