OMG, I Need Sum Wrk Dood!

Reading Mark Garvey’s homage to the classic writing guide “Elements of Style ” in the Wall Street Journal made me think that the texting tweeting teen generation may have their hands full as they try to enter the working world. Least of which is learning or re-learning how to communicate the way they were properly taught in grammar school (before text speak took over the majority of their daily communication activity.)

Garvey observes:

Pity, for example, the freshly minted job applicant whose thumbs are more nimble than his judgment (“i cn work a spreadsheet gr8!!!”). In business, in education, in the arts, in any writing that takes place outside the linguistic cul-de-sac of our close friends and relatives, writers are expected to reach for certain standards of clarity, concision and care.

I thought I knew most of the rules around communication. But texting threw me a curve. My kids ridicule me for trying to text chat with them on their own level. They think that “CUL8R” and other net lingoisms are strictly a province of their own generation; that I should stick to conventionally spelled word messaging. Okay, so I’ll accept that I have to spell everything out – fat thumbs and all. Fortunately my favorite and most frequent text is “OK”. For some reason, OK is okay for adult texting. Probably because “OK” existed long before my kids did, unlike say, ROFL. So they can’t really claim ownership to the term. Much in the same way they accept me liking Beatles music, even though they do also.

I wondered will they take their texting mentality to the next level, as they move up the food chain of education? Into college and beyond into the “real” work world.

Will this same cavalier approach to spelling become the standard of choice for the next generation for other forms of communication. What about the résumé? A well crafted résumé, for goodness sake, should be a sacred place in terms of style, presentation and accuracy. There are timeless rules around resumes that generations of job seekers have followed.

OMG! Text-speak finds way into work force, says it ain’t necessarily so. They quote a recent study by CollegeGrad.com, a career Web site for entry-level positions, that found more than 30 percent of teens have admitted to letting text speak — such as emoticons like : ) to indicate a smiley face, or “LOL” to indicate “laughing out loud” — slip onto a résumé.

I talked to a few MATRIX recruiters about text-speak résumés, and they looked at me as though I was crazy. “It would be like I was talking to my daughter on Facebook”, one said. “The kiss of death for a candidate,” said another. Our recruiters did admit, however, they sometimes signed off their emails with candidates or clients using emoticons or LOL’s.

I perused a few recent résumés to see if there were some trends in this direction. Nothing unusual there. A random search of our database résumés didn’t turn up any anomalies either. Just the usual bewildering alphabet soup of IT acronyms like HTML, XHTML, CSS, PHP, JS, and XML, that we have all come to know and love.

So, I guess we are all safe for now. But watch out future recruiters. As the next generation grows up, your livelihood may very well depend on you knowing the difference between “CYE” and “CYO”.

As they say, L8RG8R.

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