Like you, I am sometimes on the receiving end of a résumé emailed from a recent college grad, usually following an introduction by the sender’s parent. Along comes the résumé with a closing line that says, “let me know if you hear of anything!”
Let the eye roll begin (I’ve tried to control it with no success.)
This kind of open-ended request leaves me wondering if I should be honest, and tell them how fruitless this approach really is, or just smile and respond, “Will do!”
Asking favors of friends, or even strangers for that matter, is best met by being as specific as possible about what is needed, wanted or required. We’ll forgive our youth for not yet knowing this, but I have a hard time extending this same slack toward legit grown-ups.
Recently, an email was forwarded to me that kindly requested “design and messaging feedback” on a handful of packaging layouts. In this instance, the final sentence asked recipients to vote for their favorites. While I understand the desire to assemble an impromptu focus group, what surprised me was how willing the creator of the product was to hand over her creative offspring to the collective whim of a disparate, and clueless (I’m referring to myself) group. So rather than enlisting qualified help from someone with specific experience or any understanding of the product/audience, this author chose to outsource these essential skills to her “list” – of how many, I don’t know, but it’s safe to say – a whole lotta opinions.
The point of having expert eyes slash and burn your work is to bring a specific perspective you can’t see to a mission that unites message with the end user, and product with the customer. I say “slash and burn” because that’s sort of how it feels (as a creative) to have something redlined. But it’s essential. The best editors rely on discipline and objectivity (not personal preference) and are able to spot and remove anything that dilutes the narrative. To ask dozens of people to do this simultaneously, and without sufficient context, misunderstands both the task and endgame. Why generate a variety of different opinions that do nothing to move the needle closer to a more refined, focused end product? What does one even do with all of the ‘feedback’ that comes from an indiscriminate inquiry?
The term “email blast” really rings true in situations like these. We can no more connect a graduate with the appropriate gig based on a few data points than help a new author get more clarity on her target audience and message by casting such wide, unqualified nets.
This is true in so many cases; from circulating possible brand names or logo design to friends, to running new business ideas by strangers on airplanes, or my favorite, posting taglines to chat groups for votes. Without context, feedback loses its value.
If you really want to kill your darlings, enlist a qualified assassin. Most people are happy to help if you give them a target.