E-mail and Texting May Get Unwanted Results

College students using the miracle of modern technology to reach out to professors and potential employers may be doing more harm than good. E-mailing and texting are efficient and convenient, but drawbacks include potential misinterpretation of the message or a negative reaction from the recipient.

Somewhere in the e-revolution, we found that short-form messages, delivered electronically, are an adequate replacement for face-to-face interaction.

E-mail wars, endless strings of communiqué and unrepentant language can make a bad situation worse. When you write a professor about missing today’s class, it’s probably not a priority on her/his to-do list. It’s even worse to ramble on with long-winded excuses and pabulum.

Many employers have switched to electronic applications on their Web sites for both job applicants and internships. Unfortunately, this company-centric process eliminates the human interaction, thereby negating any interpersonal skill strength a candidate may possess.

Here’s my partial list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts”

Do
1. Write e-mails and text with the same care and specificity of a hard-copy document.
2. Use full sentences and proper grammar.
3. Construct your e-mail as you would any written correspondence, with a beginning, middle and end.
4. Determine if an e-mail or text is a proper way to communicate with another party.
5. Understand that colleges and universities retain most student e-mails in their databases, keeping a record of your informal banter.

Don’t
1. Take the easy route on an internship or job hunt by simply “applying online.” Press hard and find a warm body willing to talk.
2. Use popular online abbreviations and electronic shorthand. The recipient may have no idea what you mean.
3. Use e-mail or text for important, delicate or questionable communication. It’s much better not to have a written history of these discussions.
4. Don’t use electronic correspondence to wage war or bicker. In the heat of the battle, it’s much too easy to “fire off an e-mail.”
5. Rely on e-mail as your sole source of social and business interaction. Human interaction and telephone calls can help you gauge another person’s demeanor and viewpoint much more accurately.

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