Recently, a cousin of mine asked me to review her friend’s SoP. And it went like this
My fascination over the working of airplanes and racing cars, urged me to get into mechanical engineering. The status gained by my father and my two brothers, after starting their own business made me think of starting my own business relating to my interests. This created an interest in manufacturing turbomachines after doing a research in Computational Fluid Dynamics, which plays a very vital role in providing the solutions for the existing challenges in turbomachinery industry.
My first thoughts after reading these lines were of some poor bloke trying too hard to impress the reader using long and complicated sentences to make them sound ‘formal’ or ‘intelligent’. If I had to read 10 of these passages in order to winnow out the best candidates, I am sure I’ll be irritated and have a headache at the end of the exercise.
IMHO, two mistakes made by almost everyone while writing SoPs, CVs, business writing or even Emails are
- Complex sentences – trying to sound erudite or prove mastery over the language
- Overuse of clichés
It is rarely that you come across a CV or and SoP or even an IT Proposal without the popular clichés. Most IT companies even have standard IT proposal templates which provide you with a choice of clichés. You put in the name of the client, some details and the magic number, and intersperse them with clichés and you have a proposal ready. It’s a vicious circle – you use them because all other XYZs are using it and you don’t want to be circled out.
"Hey, Cheapo Software Ltd is promising to architect us a pro-active approach which will give us a lot of quick-wins and a value-added solution, which is strategic, robust, scalable and will also help us in our core-competency areas and to move up the value chain and cross the chasm. And you are just giving us a plain vanilla solution."
Can you do the business walk without talking the talk?
Worst case is when people start using clichés to cover up their real intentions or the lameness of their message. Some of them can be really irritating and most of the times they are used incorrectly.
Don't even try it!
Don't even try it!
Companies thrive on clichés and complex sentences. MBAs hide behind them. Others choke on them and declare themselves too dumb to understand English. :)
Which of the following sentences would you rather read?
The company fired half its workers because nobody bought its product.
Or this far more eloquent befuddlement?
As part of its strategic vision, the company cited shifting demographic demand and variable inventory turnover as cyclical factors contributing to a mission-critical process of rightsizing.
Are you a cliché abuser?
If you are not sure what a cliché is, you are a rare breed. Rejoice.
Do check out this huge collection of everyday clichés - and stay away from them if you can help it!
If clichés do form a large part of your vocab, maybe it’s time for a New Year resolution to change the habit - at least in your personal life!