In a timely manner?

In my former career lives I have been a newspaper reporter, editor, and publisher. From my earliest reporter days I learned that a deadline is just what it says, the line you must not cross or you’ll be dead.

As a reporter you’ll be figuratively dead. As an editor it gets more serious and as a publisher, missing deadlines means missing the checks from all those advertisers or readers, and therefore, being career dead.

The definition of deadline, per, is “the time by which something must be finished or submitted; the latest time for finishing something…”

MUST be finished. The LATEST time for finishing.

Why am I harping on something so basic? Because it apparently isn’t basic.

I cruise online job postings each morning, not because I am looking but because I like to keep up with the terminology used when hiring others who do what I do. This is usually a rather sleepy task that doesn’t require a lot of thought on my part and therefore goes well with my first dose of caffeine for the day. But this morning was different.

This morning I read something that set off my inner Grammar Queen and woke up my former journalistic self.

In a posting for a Documentation Consultant, under the heading “Desired skills we seek” was this…

Ability to meet deadlines in a timely manner

Are they being redundant? Judging by the heading, that was my first guess, given that “desired skills” implies they are the skills the company is seeking, rendering “we seek” useless extra.

Or are they truly unaware that a deadline is a firm, unwavering thing? Adding “in a timely manner” implies that deadline in that company means suggested completion date. It’s now a wish list. A plea?

Poor writing leads to confusion, questions, and, in my home, an early morning rant about the lack of knowledge and professionalism in the business world. Of course, it’s nothing new. Grammatical errors, jargon, and business-speak litter not just job postings but also business web pages, corporate publications and now social media. It’s so commonplace that it rarely draws comment anymore.

But that doesn’t mean that readers and consumers of their information don’t notice the apparent disregard for professional writing and clear communication. It’s difficult to quantify how that affects business. Do companies lose sales? Potential employees?

I think they do.

That’s why companies should hire professional writers.