Saturday, 6 September 2008

#6 – Spell the editor’s name correctly

Or how not to clatter headlong into the first hurdle

Simple common sense
This tip should be simple common sense, but to some people, evidently not. In a previous incarnation, I was the editor of a backpacker magazine in Australia. I did the job for four years, and I quickly established one golden rule: never give a job to someone that can’t spell my name.

Filtering process
Because the magazine employed staff writers on working holiday visas, and they could only legally work for three months at a time there was a high staff turnover. Therefore jobs were being advertised all the time, and my inbox was constantly full of applications. There had to be some sort of filtering process.

Incorrect spelling equals instant deletion
Mine was to delete anything from someone who spelt my name incorrectly. This may seem harsh, but come on, if you can’t get the absolute basics right, then anything more complex is likely to be a disaster. My name was printed in the masthead, and printed on top of various articles within the magazine. It was also stated quite clearly in the job advertisement.

How not to get the job
Yet I would still get a disturbingly large percentage of applications addressed to Mr Whiteley or Mr Whitely. Clearly from people that were incapable of processing simple information. And, unsurprisingly, none of them got the job.

Pointlessly careless mistake
It’s such a pointlessly careless mistake to make, and even if other editors don’t apply my ruthless filtering system, then an incorrect spelling will at least annoy them. And do you really want to start a potential working relationship by pissing someone off?

Jane or Jayne?
So, even if it seems straightforward, check. Is it Jane or Jayne? Is it McClare, McLair or McClair? Getting it wrong could prove extremely costly.


Kim Wildman said...

Hi David. This post made me laugh, not only because I had many hopeful travel writers misspell my name when I did my stint as an editor (and my whole name was in the email address, so you'd wonder how they got it wrong!), but (and I probably shouldn't admit this) it reminded me of a mistake I made back in school. Sitting for a final exam in German when I was in year twelve, I was so concerned about getting all my German spelling and grammar correct (which I did as I got a distinction) that I misspelt my own name on the front of the exam. My German teacher thought it was so funny that he deducted a mark from my total score saying I'd made a mistake on the paper, even though spelling my name wasn't part of the test! Perhaps it was a good thing he did though, because I've now learnt to always double-check every name I write, no matter whether I'm writing my own or addressing someone else!!

David said...

He he he. Good work...

At least I feel less embarassed about occasionally having to look up my own middle name (Keir) when I have to write it on forms.

I use it so infrequently, and can never remember if the I before E rule applies...