There’s something you may be doing every day that’s making you look old. And, you probably have no idea what it is.
It’s not your clothes, or your hairstyle, or the AOL e-mail address you’re using (although those aren’t helping either!).
What you’re doing is subtle, and worst of all, it’s the way you were taught to do things in school. How could or why would someone teach you to do something incorrectly? All I can say is this — the times have changed… possibly without you.
Now, before I get on a high horse, let me just tell you– I learned this lesson the hard way. I want to keep you from learning it the hard way too. Because, it’s very possible nobody else will point it out to you. They’ll just talk about you when you’re not around or wonder to themselves about your intelligence.
This sounds like a big deal, doesn’t it?
Well, this is how I learned my lesson the hard way: When I first launched Copeland Coaching, I wrote my e-book, “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” I used a recommended, fantastic editor who read over the 100 or so draft pages I wrote. She combed through every page in detail, with great care.
When she was finished, I asked for general feedback on my writing style. I had never used a professional editor before and was very interested in learning as much as I could. She said something that I never expected to hear. “The one thing you really need to stop doing is that you use two spaces after your periods.”
Wait, what? Nothing about my writing style? Two periods instead of one? But, the teachers in school drilled two periods into my head. This must just be a minor creative difference, I thought. I left the e-book with double spaces and never looked back.
About six months later, I had a meeting with the wonderful newspaper I write a column for. I had been writing the column for a few months and with professional writers and editors in the room I again asked the question, “Is there anything I could do to improve my writing style?”
One of the people cringed. He said something along the lines of, “Your writing style is good. But, there’s one thing that would be great if you could stop doing. You use two periods at the ends of your sentences. We always delete them.”
This stopped me in my tracks. My mind began to spin. How in the world was this really a thing? How was it a big deal? How is it a pet peeve of professional writers? Where did I go wrong?
From the best that I can gather, two spaces were taught for years in school. At some point in time, the standard changed and one space became the norm. Unless you write for a living, you probably weren’t told about the change.
Simply put– your two spaces are dating you. I suspect you’re like me and don’t know. Anytime I tell a client about this standard, they’re always surprised: A. that this is a thing, and B. that anyone cares. They probably ignore my suggestion in this area just like I ignored my first editor.
This week, a friend posted on Facebook about this pet peeve with a link to a recent article on Slate.com. It inspired me to write this e-mail to you. Here’s how the article begins: “Can I let you in on a secret? Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.” The author goes on to say, “What galls me about two-spacers is…”
What I’m getting at here is one space versus two spaces is apparently a very controversial issue. And, we’re being judged. If you’re out there applying for jobs, do what I’ve done and switch to one space. Don’t over think it. Just do it. After some practice, it will become more normal. And, it will prevent you from being the gossip of those who are more up on writing than the average person — and who somehow ties your knowledge of this fact to your intelligence.
If you were someone who wasn’t aware of this issue, I’d love to hear from you. Or, if this is also your pet peeve, I want to know. E-mail me your story at Angela@CopelandCoaching.com.
Also, don’t forget about the Multicultural Career Expo this Sunday, April 12th from NOON to 5 PM at Hilton Memphis. The event is free and open to the public. Both full time job and internship seekers are encouraged to attend. To learn more, and to register online, visit the Multicultural Career Expo website at www.CareerExpoMemphis.com.
Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.