Write or Type Leadership Course Application?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about application for leadership course:

I have an opportunity to complete an application for a leadership course. It will go through a nomination process. My question is: which is the better approach – typing in the fields or handwriting it out?

Signed, Want To Do It Right

Dear Want To Do It Right:

Type it, or word process it, according to the format. It will not only be easier to read–even if you print well–it will look professional and at an executive level. Further, you don’t risk that any aspect of your handwriting will influence someone.

I once heard a reviewer of applications say, very unfairly, “This guy’s writing is so perfect, I’ll bet he’s a picky little pain in the neck.” The same reviewer said of someone who wrote with an angled handwriting, “I forget what this means in handwriting analysis. I think it means dishonesty.”

Fortunately, people like that are semi-rare–but there is no point in taking a chance. You may have meant word processing, or might literally have meant typing. I have noticed how many applications are not formatted for word processing, thus requiring people to find a typewriter–not easy to do! But, the very fact that you would go to that trouble could be viewed in a positive way, compared to others.

Most libraries still have typewriters. FedEx-Kinko’s do in some areas. Even your church or a similar organization might have one for use.And isn’t it strange that most of us don’t have a typewriter and can’t remember when we last saw one? I remember (that always marks one as old) when getting an IBM Correcting Selectric seemed like the best day of my life! Now, I would hate to test my skills on something I can’t cut, copy and paste, then delete and start over!

If you DO use a typewriter and will be making copies of the application in the event of mistakes, check out the copiers and paper and select something that makes sharp, crisp copies on nice quality paper then use that for your final product. Nothing too heavy, but something very bright white usually looks good. If you are printing the application yourself, use that paper in your printer.If you’re word processing and making a hard copy for the reviewers, also consider using bright, good quality bond, rather than the usual copy paper. Practice on several and have someone you trust pick the one she thinks looks sharpest and most professional.Your goal isn’t to have your application stand out to the point of being irritating to busy reviewers, it’s to show that you pay attention to details–and to ensure that something about your application seems higher quality than some of the others.

If you’re sending it electronically the paper part won’t matter. Just be sure you use either Times Roman or Arial, or something similarly basic and professional. I’m sure you knew that already! You may want to save the file under another file name, using your name as part of the name. For example: “Kincaid.application.doc”That way, when it is viewed, your name is clear, rather than the cryptic “application.doc” that might show up on the other hundred applications. Good luck on your application process. If you care enough to check in it to this detail, you certainly show that you are committed to excellence. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.