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Why sloppiness is killing your job search

(MoneyWatch) I do edit the letters that come to me. Mostly I shorten them. I try not to change word choice or do something that would take away from the writer's original voice. I will, generally, clean up small grammar errors, as heaven knows we can't afford to have editors following us around all the time. (But, boy that would be a great job market for those unemployed English majors.)

I received this email this morning:

in my life ive only had one job. that job was th at i was manager of a small business owned by my parents. does that count as experience. lets say i apply for a job as an hr assistantwould a job working as a manager/cashier for my parents be considered relevant experience.

I left this email as is because it shows a critical error that I see happening more and more often -- adopting super casual writing styles for all types of writing. This is something which must stop if you ever hope to get a job in the real world. Grown ups find the lack of capital letters combined with the sloppiness completely grating. And let's face it, grown ups do the hiring.

I want every person to solemnly swear on a stack of grammar text books that they will never send another email without capital letters. Use Firefox and you get a built-in spell checker that will automatically tell you when you've made glaring errors. I'm not asking for perfection -- small mistakes are normal. But general sloppiness is not appropriate.

I can hear the protests now -- this person isn't asking YOU for a job, so why does it matter? Because it's precisely this type of behavior that comes back and bites you. When you send a carefully crafted email to a recruiter and, joy of joys, actually get a response, if you're in the habit of being sloppy you may respond as above.

There are some people out there who can get a job despite bad grammar and the lack of a shift key, but you are not one of them. Those people are the geniuses who have such unique skill sets that it is a job seekers' market for them.

This is not you. You are normal. You need all the help you can get. And when you reach out to someone in the business world -- be it an advice columnist, a recruiter or an expert whose brain you'd like to pick -- you need to use standard writing techniques.

And, in answer to the question -- yes, working for the family business counts. Treat it like you would any job. You don't need to mention that your boss was your mother/father/aunt. If it comes up, be honest. But, being related doesn't mean you weren't working.

Have a workplace dilemma? Type up your question, run it through a spell checker, make sure there are sufficient capital letters and send it to

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