The new book Executive Image Power—for which I wrote a chapter on tech etiquette—comes out today, so naturally I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about Twitter, texting, social networking, and the like. It’s important to remember that just because we have these high-tech tools at our fingertips doesn’t mean we can let our polished professional images go down the drain.
One major mistake people make when “tweeting” or texting is to forget their grammar and instead churn out nonsense like “how r u?” and “c u l8r.” The fact that Twitter limits users to just 140 characters has led many of us to bastardize the English language for the sake of brevity, as the New York Times recently reported. If a word is too long, we try to abbreviate it to make it fit—who cares if it’s barely legible or makes us look like a 12-year-old? Trust me—people notice sloppy grammar and spellings and childish acronyms. And they don’t reflect well on your hard-earned reputation as an intelligent professional. The solution: Always proofread, spell out words or crack open a thesaurus to find a shorter alternative, and steer clear of emoticons and goofy acronyms like lol.
One thing recent graduates—and anyone else searching for a job—should keep in mind is the dangers of communicating with interviewers via modern means like text or email. As this Wall Street Journal article notes, younger applicants have abandoned the traditional post-interview “thank you” note in favor of a quick emoticon-laced email, a text sent to the interviewer’s personal cell phone, or even a Facebook request. Consider this quote from hiring manager Cathy Chin: “If I’m going to give you a job, do I really want you communicating to our clients in this fashion? No.”
Instead, thank interviewers with a tasteful card (selecting a beautiful art print of photographic image ensures that the interviewer will hang on to it and keep you in mind), or a clean, professionally written email if you’re short on time. Only contact interviewers via work phone or email unless instructed otherwise, and don’t add them on social networking sites until you get the job (and only then if your profile is presentable and not full of drunk photos of your pals).
Twitter, texting and email are fabulous communication tools—just make sure you are using them wisely!