Dealbreaker's Business School Correspondent Learns A Lesson In Compelling Correspondence

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Dealbreaker's Business School Bureau Chief is a full-time MBA student at Chicago Booth. Upon graduation, she plans to go back into the same industry and job function as she held before school, and as a result, some observers have questioned the need for her business school education. Though there are occasional moments when she, too, ponders the MBA, our Business School Bureau Chief is bent on proving its worth.

During first-year orientation last year, we had a special 90-minute session on “Compelling Correspondence” or How to Communicate via the Written Word Without Sounding Like a Douchebag. I took the lecture and feedback session in stride, thinking, “What moron would forget to spell-check and do a final read-through?”

A couple of weeks later, I realized my ego was writing checks my body couldn’t cash. I submitted a resume with the following header - in both soft and hard copy - to a Very Important Firm:

Yes, you read that right. Booth of Business. I don't go to the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business – I go to a booth and in it, I conduct business. But as an aside though ... seriously, think of the all the branding and marketing opportunities from that gem of an acronymn, BoB! We could get BoB with guest vox from Haley whatsherface from Paramore, and they could perform Outkast’s B.O.B. at Admit Weekend and Convocation! Okay, maybe those lyrics wouldn’t go over so well, but still. The possibilities.

I didn’t resubmit that resume because I figured it couldn’t be that noticeable (right?). And frankly, if I got dinged immediately for that error, I probably wouldn’t have lasted at that firm anyway. Still, I took the writing lesson to heart. Now paranoid about my next formal submission, The Cover Letter, I struggled with every word. I even polled my friends on proper phrasing.

Me: Is it “bottom-up” investing or “bottoms up” investing? “Bottom up” is the only option that makes any sense (I mean, the alternative involves a “tops down” pairing, which sounds scandalous), but bizarrely I continue to spot “bottoms up fundamental research” in job descriptions.

Final Answer Friend: As far as I know, “bottom-up” is about investing, and “bottoms up” is about beer. Depending on the job, they both may have a place in your cover letter.

That makes much more sense. Hmm. How about this?

Dear Firm X,

I think your bottom-up investing style may jive with the top-down convertible I picture myself driving in three to five years post-MBA. Hire me.

Bottoms up,
Me

I am still waiting to hear back, but I’ll let you know when I do. Soon after, I turned in my last cover letter, sighing with relief that hard writing stuff was nearly over, when I received an unexpected email from a Really Big Deal Investment Bank.

To: Me
From: [Big Deal Bank]
Subject: [Big Deal Bank] Presentation

The [Big Deal Bank’s] Investment Banging Group cordially invites you …

At first, I started panicking. What do I wear to a Banging Group event?!?! Should I bring my nametag? I started doing push ups and sit ups and frantically flipping through my Student Handbook for attire guidelines, before I realized it was a typing error. Phew! I think I’ve got this “close reading” thing down...

From: [Group Co-Chair]
To: [Group Listserv]
Subject: [Group] Social: Wed 1/25, 9pm Start

[Group] Members,

This is long overdue. We are finally hosting a [Group] Social this Wednesday night at Old Town Social. Come join us for beverages and appetizers. Details below:

What: [Group] Social
Where: Old Town Social, 455 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL
When: 9:00pm to the min(12:00am, Bar Tab Runs Out), This Wednesday, 1/25

Did you smile when your brain translated the bolded highlight? Good, because that means we can be friends.

True stories, my new friends. Hopefully the message that I learned the hard way is clear to you now: spellcheck is not enough. Read and re-read carefully. You may even find some unexpected gems when you do.

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