I live near Wall Street, where we get a lot of tourists, especially Europeans.
The Wall Street Bull, however, is not on Wall Street. It is on Broadway. So, tourists often wander up and down Wall Street, wondering aloud “El Toro? El Toro?”
One day, a man wearing a backpack approached me, English language phrasebook in hand. He looked at the phrasebook, then up at me, and began: “Sir or Madame, can you give me directions to the bull?”
Sir or Madame! Adorable.
How formal should you be in your career? Check out this letter from a writer I’ve called Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, which I discovered is the full name of Queen Elizabeth II. Apparently titled royals do not have surnames, although the Queen sometimes uses the name Windsor, because honestly, having three female first names and no last name kind of makes one sound like a very pretentious stripper.
Dear Ms. Dziura,
My ultimate goal is to become a professor—but not immediately. I would like to establish myself in media or publishing for a few years before working on my Ph.D. part time while continuing to work.
I am particularly concerned because a lot of things I have applied for lately seem to be much more casual than I behave in work situations. For example, I recently applied to intern for a blogger and the response to my formal cover email included a smiley face after informing me that the position had already been filled and signed off with x’s and o’s.
I wouldn’t take kindly to a stranger on the street trying to hug and kiss me, and I don’t appreciate it virtually, either. If, however, this is the world I am living in, I have to operate within it not only without wanting to punch people who give hugs and kisses from their work email, but also need to adapt to it. Is there a way to do it without sacrificing dignity?
Thanks again for all you have done and continue to do for me and many other women. I think of you as a taller, less wrinkly Yoda and admire you greatly.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary
Yep, the blogging world is pretty casual. I started writing for TheGloss after meeting Editor in Chief Jennifer Wright at a networking event, where she complimented something I was wearing. We talked about my doing some writing, and when I emailed her, I definitely did not send a formal cover letter or resume, and I definitely called her “Jennifer.” Since we had met in person, it seemed natural to continue in roughly the same tone we had begun our conversation. Which is to say: boozy.
Back when I ran my dot-com, I would sometimes receive cover letters addressed “Dear Sir or Madame” (or worse, “Dear Sir”), and I would immediately trash them. Firstly, because it was a small company and my bio and picture were on the website, so if some dude couldn’t figure out I was a woman – a woman named Jennifer Dziura – then I really didn’t want to work with such a lazy, blundering oaf anyway.
But even “Dear Madame” – it’s just ridiculous for applying to work at a tech company. Are you going to bow to me at the water cooler? Are you going to make us all uncomfortable when we release stress with Nerf guns? (I do not personally shoot Nerf guns. But I am not opposed to buying them with company funds.)
I hired my assistant, Haley, after I casually mentioned in a column that I could use an assistant, and she emailed me. I just dug up the email. The subject line is, “Virtual Assistant Position.” The email begins, “Hi Jen! Happy new year!” There are no XOXO’s (I’ll get to that in a minute), but I certainly wouldn’t describe the email as a formal cover letter. In fact, that would’ve been strange, since I hadn’t put out a formal job description.