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June 15, 2005

Letter spray 

I notice a lot of emails and letters addressed to me with 'Dear Jack Yan'. I thought it was ignorance that created these letters, but I was told today by a student that that was what she was taught!
   What does it say about a person when they hop on to a "convention" that has only been around for, oh, two years, tops?
   And what does it say when such a thing is on a cover letter to accompany a job application?
   While I am not advocating a return to copying out of Sir Isaac Pitman's guides, those sure as heck were better than the way people correspond today.
   For the modern "convention" tells me that the person is less than trustworthy, that they will hop on to a bandwagon or just plainly doesn't know, and they wouldn't last a day at my company.
   It's either 'Dear Jack' or 'Dear Mr Yan', and if I become Prime Minister, 'Sir'.
   How does this link back to branding? It stresses the need to research your audience. In this case, the traditions of someone over 30 who thinks text-messaging has been invented by RSI con-men. No one, I repeat, no one, who is in a position to hire someone else will consider 'Dear Full Name' as acceptable. As I told this young lady (she was not using her letter to get a job with me, it should be noted), I'd throw the letter in the bin and not look at her CV as a result of that. And if anyone should typeset their covering letter in Arial, God help them.
Update: I learned the lecturer was trying to wean them off 'To whom it may concern' and 'Dear Sir/Madam', so in this context I could see how this arose—though I still stand by my post.  
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