The Power of Language

If you have ever been to England, you might have noted the Brits have a distinct ear for accents. The “perfect” British accent is considered the clear, uninflected speech of the BBC announcers – clear of all regional inflections or school influences. The upper class have a distinct speech pattern and accent, while the lower classes and regional commoners have their own accents (think “Oliver Twist”). To American ears unaccustomed to the differences, they may all sound the same but some may be mysteriously more difficult to understand.

While we Americans consider ourselves the melting pot of the world and are accustomed to many different accents, the class distinction that is often assigned to speech is still present in our society. Essentially, perception of your intelligence is predicated on your speech and writing. People with strong regional accents can be quickly stereotyped without reason. Those of us from New York may be considered brusque because of the speed with which we speak, while someone from Atlanta may seem slow mentally when the slow vowels roll out in their words.

Writing, however, is generally without accent. A piece of writing, if done well, will indicate no specific class or accent; give no clue to national origin or regional birth. That is because good grammar is clear, correct, and can be diagrammed according to specific rules. Sure, there is writing with accent written in to achieve effects. A good example would be Joel Chandler Harris’ classic “Uncle Remus” tales which are written in the accent of an elderly, Southern, African-American male from the 19th century.

When composing business writing such as a resume, you will be judged by the grammar, word choice, and structure of your writing. Allow me to demonstrate:

“The new widget I designed was to win an award until it busted while in use.” This sentence definitely gives the impression of lack of intelligence. In fact, the writer of this particular sentence was a mathematical genius but was raised in a rural setting and did quite poorly in English grammar in school. He was an extremely intelligent person who had several patents to his name but he simply was not a good writer.

A different example from a real person “ In summary, an outstanding quality and quantity of security production. I often ask myself would XYZ hire me if I knocked its door today showing that I have generated $1.7 Million in GDC in 2004, had 7 years history of this or bigger and having a solid business plan to do $4 Million in 2005?” Obviously, this person knows his securities craft but his writing is obtuse and wordy. He writes in fragments, run-on sentences, and partial thoughts.

Most American high school students have difficulty writing a complete paragraph upon graduation. Freshmen English is all about writing papers with no emphasis on grammar and good structure. The comma splice is the biggest crime that can be committed in a freshmen theme. Unfortunately, the lack of skill in writing abilities can be a career handicap, especially now in this world of exponential information.

Writing a strategic document such as a resume can be even more challenging. Resume writing is touched upon in the senior year in high school and its taught by English teachers that have never had to write a resume for someone else. College placement offices offer free courses in the spring of the academic year where students can spend 45 minutes to learn how to enter information into a resume software program. Aside from these two flashes of semi-formal instruction on resume writing, people try to educate themselves on how to write a resume by buying resume books and off-the-shelf software.

It amazes me that intelligent people with huge investments in their careers in terms of time and money, even consider writing their own resumes. Our writers write resumes day in and day out – not just once in senior English. They have seen every possible career handicap arise in their clients’ backgrounds – jail sentences, indictments, job hopping, transgender surgery, firings – pretty much you name it. They have written resumes to minimize handicaps and maximize potential for literally thousands of people, most at middle to high salary levels. They have provided the advantage in the job search to all their clients. Why, then, would you consider marketing your own career with a document that is written by an amateur – you?

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