A Dick or a Hero? The Employer Who Took a Huge Risk & Made Headlines for It

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This story got me out of a temporary blogging hiatus. I just had to write about it…

Shea Gunther, writer and owner of a new clean-tech website launching in May, sent out a mass email to 900 applicants who wanted to write for him. 900!! Instead of the sober, formal reply writers often get that basically say, “Unfortunately we decided to hire another writer,” this one included a 3,000 word rejection letter stating in detail why each and every person didn’t get the job.

This sparked a ton of anger for the recipients as well as for the commenters who read the letter in its entirety on Gawker here. Called, “Here’s How to Condescend to 900 Job Applicants With a 3,000-Word Rejection Letter,” it included 42 writing do’s and don’ts that were not well-received. Here’s a small sample of the letter:

“When you have a pool of 900+ applications, you can be picky, and we passed over many worthy people simply because they don’t have enough experience in clean technology and green media. I would advise anyone without enough of the right experience who wants to break into environmental writing to start a personal blog and write about the things you want to get paid to cover. You are welcome to get back in touch with us in the future after you’ve built a more focused portfolio.

Beyond those two groups, there were applications that were skipped over after just a quick read—the brutal truth is that the very worst applications got less than a few seconds of consideration. Often I could tell from the first few words of an application that it would be passed over. I was helped by the fact that we are hiring writers; if a person can’t craft a good email applying for a writing job, she’s unlikely to be the kind of writer we are looking to hire.”

Points like spelling correctly and headings like, “Don’t waste my time by telling me you’re not going to waste my time” were also included and made the applicants feel that the negative, condescending tone of the mass email wasn’t just well, rejecting, but rude. (They used harsher words by the way.)
In his defense, on Salon.com, Gunther explained that he was only trying to help the 900 applicants. Saying:
” It was frustrating to see people unknowingly sabotage their chances of finding work by making easily avoidable errors.”
And he added that he did receive emails from writers who thought his feedback was helpful. It seems that while he’s also gotten pretty harsh, offensive replies via social media, ultimately he believes the response will help those that need the help. And if he’s regretful, he only sort of alludes to it in his last few sentences:
“It’s just not possible for businesses to give custom feedback to every applicant who applies for a job. And as I saw this week, trying to give more generalized advice to an entire cohort of applicants can blow up in your face.”

But then he ends with this, “Maybe the world just needs more dicks.”

What do you think?

As someone who also received this letter, I can agree with both sides.

Had Gunther double-checked his own work, he might have been more sensitive to the fact that 1) emails read differently than in-person communication 2) sending a mass email comes off as impersonal and cold to the recipient. If he had been aware of that, his message may have been more warmly received.

Keeping Up With Social Media

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I have to admit that keeping up with social media is harder than Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I barely have time to finish my day job during the day let alone come up with witty tweets and conversational topics on Facebook. But oh how I try!

This week I got feedback from two different people on my social media efforts. On the + side, my personal tweets are looking A-okay and so is my professional efforts on FB. I have to thank author and teacher IJ Schecter for providing the feedback for my personal social media accounts. This is the part that made me =) :

“Your short, snappy bits work great as tweets because they’re thoughtful, provocative, optimistic and very real, in contrast to a lot of the empty or aimless prattle that one finds on Twitter.”

But I still got tons of things to improve on. And ack it’s a little overwhelming. On some days, I want to just tune it all out, erase my accounts and live in la-la-land where I used to before I announced who I was in the internet.

Why I Won’t Quit

But I won’t. Mainly because of all the unexpected good that’s come out of my efforts. A friend once told me, “I just don’t get Twitter.” I told her I understood. From the outside looking in, all it is a stream of unconscious thoughts and marketing links from cyberspace and who has the time to filter through all of that?

I certainly don’t. But from the very beginning when I self-consciously began tweeting, I connected with people on what felt like a very real level. I met other writers (even one in person) and a few were able to connect with on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. That connection was vital to my career. It’s what kept me going. In fact, back then it was a lot easier to maintain my accounts. I had less work to do. And had a lot less people I was following. The messages were clear, honest and content worthy.

Today, it’s a lot harder. But it’s still worth it. Just a few weeks ago, a blogger started following me on Twitter. I clicked on her blog and was instantly enamored. I read her whole blog, a year’s worth of entries in a few weeks. After that I contacted her and was pleasantly surprised. She was a genuinely kind, helpful and as sweet as she was on her blog. Since then, she’s e-introduced me to a friend to provide even more help and support.

I honestly can’t believe that I’ve gotten that kind of response from a computer program. But I guess that’s what life today is about. Instead of meeting at a coffee shop, at a book club or at the grocery store, we’re finding ways to connect the internet.

I may not be able to keep up with social media the way I’d like to, but it’s a work-in-progress and one I feel is well-worth the effort.

What do you think?

Would you give social media sites a thumbs up or thumbs down?

The Key to Long Lasting Online Relationships? Adding Your Personal Touch

{flickr photo by: rent-a-moose}

Last week, I wrote two blog posts for the site I work for and it surprisingly did well. My article on 10 Tips for Healthy Living received 105 tweets and 88 Facebook likes. I also wrote a guest post for business writer Cathy Miller that got 21 comments. I wrote 5 Steps to Transform Your Life for Feelgooder.com, a Darren Rowse creation and it too received a lot of attention. I’ve been thinking about these articles and the ones I see online and I figured something out in the process. Here’s the secret I’ve discovered to permanent, long-lasting relationships.

Human beings desire connection.

Lots of blogs get popular quick because they offer relevant, important information.

But blogs that have staying power are the ones that offer something else.

Getting Over a Thousand Comments on Their Blog

Take Young House Love, for example. They’ve been blogging since 2007 and have rounded up quite a following. And I think I know why. In addition to providing informative posts on DIY and home design, they also have a fun, unique writing style with a personal touch. Their recent posts garnered 1862 comments!! Wowza! And the topic? Their daughter’s birth story.

A lot of my guest posts and articles are written with that same idea in mind-the ability to transform your words into a voice of connection.

When I interview an expert and I get that gut in-your-stomach kind of feeling, I know that this is going to move people. I have an instinctual feeling that this could be influential. And it doesn’t matter if I’m talking about caring for rabbits or yourself. It’s that universal feeling that we all want to be connected. Especially on the internet.

How to Keep Your Followers Interested

  • For business owners. Refocus your energies on your clients and customers. Forget about making the sale for now. Think about how you can really connect with people, not $. Then reach out to them through your blog, articles and Facebook updates. Today, I was listening to a free webinar by Authentic Promoter Molly Gordon. She was talking about focusing on a single client versus thousands. If you can focus on how your words and business impacts one person, you will be a lot more successful. Why? Because the more you focus on a single person, the more authentic and personal you will be and the more connection you will likely have. And more connection = longer, lasting relationships. And lasting relationships = more business.
  • For writers. As someone who manages social media for a living, I know that questions and comments that inspire conversation are much more popular than ones that are void of emotions. Social media is the way people are attempting to connect and interact. And this applies to anything you write. I have wasted spent 9 months rewriting an essay. Then, I took a class and realized why I was so stuck. I was writing around my subject. Because of the fear of letting it all hang out, I was taking a personal, important time in my life and regurgitating it without the good, revealing stuff.

Writers if you have a story, have the courage to write it. Give it the attention and emotion it deserves. If you can find a way to transform your feelings and thoughts through words, you will find not only more business, but more satisfying meaningful ones too.

In the end, it’s not about making the most money. {Well at least it’s not for me.} It’s about using what I’m good at as a tool to create a meaningful career and life. And that’s only possible when you add your personal touch to everything you do.

Controversy on the Web

{flickr photo by wstera2}

I’ve been hiding out on different blogs reading the latest thoughts and trends. Some I agreed with. Others made me want to bury my head in a hole and cry. I thought I’d grab a few so we can discuss them here. I’ll call it our own little writers “View.” Let’s begin shall we?

Practical or Perfectionism?

On Copyblogger, Jon Morrow posted 5 Crippling Beliefs that Keep Writers Penniless and Mired in Mediocrity. The article itself was compelling with lots of points about how our thinking can sabotage success. But interestingly enough, the more than 100 comments were almost, if not more engaging than the post itself.

In reply to one of his commenters, Morrow said that he spends 10 hours on each post. That’s right, TEN hours! He said it was more about being pragmatic than perfectionistic.

I have to say that this specific comment really got to me:

“[P]ersonally, I don’t think most writers demand enough of themselves. Especially bloggers. They spend 30 min. on a blog post, and then they wonder why they aren’t getting results.”

Talk about feeling like an underachiever. On one hand, I get it. Morrow’s posts rock. They are compelling, relevant, wonderfully pleasant to read. But 10 hours!! Should I quit my day job and write for 10 hours per post? I guess if I was going to do it as my one and only job.

What do you guys think?

Are there any 10 hour bloggers out there? Do you think that writing 10 hours a day is feasible, practical or too perfectionistic?

The Lone Tree

Otherwise known as the blog with no comments. Then there’s Annabel Candy. Blogging pal Annabel Candy of Successful Blogging wrote a post called Are Your Blogging Comments Good, Bad or Ugly?. In it she says this:

Even if your writing is fabulous, you’re a global superstar and the paparazzi hound you on a daily basis, a blog with no comments makes you look like a loser.”

Ack! First an underachiever. Now a loser.

I know where Annabel’s coming from. In fact, I’ve interviewed her and e-book reviewed her in the past.

She’s smart, sweet and successful.

So maybe she has a point there. No matter how hard that pill is to swallow.

What do you think?

Do you agree? Are your posts filled with commenters or is it as lonely as a desert?

Yes Please and No Thank Yous

Number 3 comes from writer Natalia Sylvester. In a post called How Do You Keep Twitter from Hindering Your Writing, Natalia writes about the time we spend idling away on social media. In a reply to one of her commenters she said it was okay to forgo a RT thank you, but instead to focus on formulating quality conversations on Twitter.

I have to agree on this one. But I can’t get myself to stop saying, “Thank you!” I’ll blame my people-pleasing, charm school graduate ways.

But how about you?

Do you find RT thank yous unnecessary?

Would love to hear your views.

And please comment so I don’t feel like a loser on this post.


P.S. I spent a lot A LOT of time on this one. Well maybe not 10 hours, but enough. I promise.

How to Deal With Online Miscommunication

{flickr photo by: Kat Cole}

How Easy it is to Misunderstand Each Other Online

I’ve gotten into a few misunderstandings lately and that’s just with my online friends. Words are powerful stuff. And when you take away external cues like smiles, nods and voice inflections, it is not just powerful, but potent.

When you are online, all a person can see is your words. So when you say, “It was good.” They may be interpreting it as:  “It WAS good! Or, “It was GOOD!” Or they may think you were being sarcastic or not very enthusiastic. There is only so much italics, bold lettering, smiley icons, and ! can do to emphasize what we are saying.

Who You Are in Real Life Could Be Very Different Than Who You Are Online

In person, I am very quiet. My voice is soft and I am a smiley type of person. I can get very emotionally expressive, but my voice never rises above a certain degree and sound. Believe me, my husband has more than once complained commented how soft my voice is even in a loud restaurant.

But online, my words can seem overpowering, as if I was a big giant touting my thoughts and opinions. I can come across as being insincere or dramatic or even critical, which is why I think it is so important to be careful and conscious about how we communicate online. I’ve learned a few things along the way and I am still learning!

Here are a few that may help you avoid miscommunication with your clients, friends and customers: (more…)