Here’s some surefire ways to make your essays appear unpolished and your writing unprofessional.
Whenever we see these, we wince. If we get these just once, OK. Not some egregious sin. But when they’re repeated over and over and over again in flagrant disregard for the fact that this is supposed to be a formal essay you’re writing to a complete stranger whom you want to impress…. well.
Writing Tics and Other Sloppy Habits
Obviously this is stuff you want to NOT DO.
- Writing values as: $3 million dollars
(Gosh this one bugs us!) Or wait, do you work in the Department of Redundancy Department?
- While we’re on the subject: Using different notations for the same value, e.g., “a $30M project” and later on the same page, you write “$100 million in revenue.” Pick one convention and stick to it throughout.
- Using ampersands anywhere.
There’s very few exceptions where ampersands are acceptable; one is an abbreviation like “P&L” (generally abbreviations should be avoided); another is in a company name like “Johnson & Johnson”. Anywhere else? Nope it don’t fly. This includes stuff like “sales & marketing” – using an ampersand there is lazy. You really can’t afford the effort to peck out two more keys on your keyboard for the full a-n-d word? Also this rule applies on both resumes and essays but it’s way worse on essays.
These are just a few of the small things that conspire to annoy us as readers of your essays. We’re certain that they annoy adcom readers, too. We’d like to say that you’re not going to be rejected for these issues, but we also know that too many occurrences of such roughshod writing will create a perception and appearance that you Just. Don’t. Care.
You may also be interested in:
- 10 Really Bad Ideas that Won’t Go Away (December 2011)