by Tom Melander
Google CEO Eric Schmidt was on Colbert a couple of weeks ago and made a point that bears repeating: once you post something online, it’s out there forever (especially if it’s risqué). Joining online groups and participating in discussions is a great way to get noticed by potential employers. It’s common practice for a company to check out a job candidate online before offering an interview. Some recruiters go further and actively monitor online discussions to find the best and brightest candidates. Poor posting habits—like writing in bad taste or using bad grammar or spelling—will get you noticed, but for the wrong reasons.
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As you can see from my reply to Meng in March of 2010, I’ve learned the hard way to use a word processor with spell check. Beyond using a word processor, here are a few more tips to get you noticed for the right reasons when posting to a discussion board.
1. Have a point. Discussion boards are not live chat sessions or tweets, they are a series of mini-essays, which means you are writing to express an idea and possibly to persuade others to your point of view.
2. Read aloud. Before posting, read your post out loud, or better yet, have someone else read it out loud. Does it sound right? Or are you tripping over your own words? Good writing flows well when read.
3. Take your time. I see little advantage to being the first to post a comment on a new discussion. Back in grade school, I used to hate having to turn in a first draft of a paper. I couldn’t understand why I had to write something twice. Now I usually need three (sometimes four) writing sessions before I’m satisfied with my work. The first session I get all my ideas on paper. The second session I cut out what does not work and organize what’s left. In the final edit, I try to make sure what’s left is well put.
We live in a time when words seem cheap. But all you need is a cell phone and opposable thumbs to have your thoughts forever attached to your reputation. Friends, please post wisely.