How Not To Writte… On LinkedIn

LinkedIn is that strangest of things – a social networking site where you only connect to people you do business with (and we don’t mean like on Tinder).

As a social site, LinkedIn is all about connecting with, and widening, your work and business networks. So you’ll end up connecting with everyone from Derek in Accounts, to the CEO of a pipe-lagging business you met at that conference in Dudley. LinkedIn also shows you how closely you’re connected to other LinkedIn users, like some odd business-card version of ‘Six degrees of Kevin Bacon’.

In the LinkedIn universe (linkiverse?), a first contact is someone in your network, and a second contact is someone who’s bezza mates with one of your contacts. This ability to ‘stalk’ business contacts means LinkedIn has become a favourite tool of thrusting, aspirational sales managers who desperately want to ‘get an in’ with the Operations Buyer of their current number one target business.

So, if you’re going to actually get something useful out of this sea of business contacts and ex-colleagues, here are the dos and don’ts for using LinkedIn.

Do:

  • Write a profile that grabs the attention. A short, concise personal statement, like you would find at the top of a CV will do just fine.
  • Try not to sound like too much of a corporate clone. Make your LinkedIn profile concise, to the point and with an accurate explanation of who you are and what you do. And do put a photo of yourself on there so people know what you look like – remember, with social media, personality is everything and a human face (however hideous) is a big part of your online persona.
  • Use LinkedIn as more than just an online CV. People used to use the site as somewhere to ‘show off their wares’ when they’d had enough of their current employer and were ready to jump ship. There’s still an element of this (recruiters LOVE LinkedIn as it does all the hard work of finding suitable candidates for them) but LinkedIn is much more about highlighting your skills, telling people what you do and generally making yourself sound like the slightly less egotistical winner of ‘The Apprentice’. So read our CV tips here.
  • Send contacts a personal message when you’re adding them. It will help them place you and increases the chances they’ll want to connect with you.  A simple ‘We met at that pipe lagging conference in Dudley, and I was interested in how you fill your tubes’ will probably suffice.
  • Add in your statement the sort of work you are looking for, but check who you’re connected with first. There’s nothing worse than saying you’re looking for a new job, to then remember you’re still ‘connected’ to your current boss.
  • Keep it professional. This isn’t Facebook for mates, this is for colleagues and networking. And, on that note, be very careful who you connect to – do you really want to be hounded by Derek the pipe lagger, just because you shared a beer once.

Don’t:

  • Get someone else to write your profile – it’s a cardinal sin when it comes to LinkedIn. If you get your personal assistant/bored intern/mum to write your account profile, it’s not going to be a very accurate reflection of you, your style or your particular skills – it’s more likely to sound like someone kissing your arse. Take some time out from world domination and write this yourself. Be honest, big up your good points and don’t mention bankruptcy/court cases/lack of formal qualifications or anything that might detract from your majestic rise to business stardom and well-deserved riches.
  • Leave your photo blank! This is a social media site and the managers you’re meeting from that logistics company next Thursday will be Googling you to try and see what your ugly mug looks like. Find a headshot that looks professional, approachable and try not to grimace too badly.
  • Get too trigger happy with the shares and updates. Posting a few links to interesting articles occasionally is fine, but the people in your network REALLY don’t want to see every recent article you’ve come across shared in their timeline. Be selective and don’t bore people.
  • Feel you have to list every job you ever did and a full list of all your skills. Yes, Linkedin is sort of like a CV/resume but it’s not a place to copy and paste your job description.
  • Slag off your current or previous companies, colleagues or circumstances – remember this is a business site where professional standards will be expected of you.
  • Under no circumstances use the phrases ‘show off your wares’ or ‘thrusting sales professional’ unless you work for Ann Summers/LoveHoney.
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How Not To Writte… A CV or Resume

We’ve all got to earn a buck, and unless you’re self-employed or the offspring of a member of the landed gentry, you’re gonna need to find a job to earn a living.

This means there’s an urgent need to impress your prospective employer with your cycling proficiency badge and your ability to make the text go blinky-blink in Microsoft PowerPoint… and what better place to encompass these skills than in your CV or ‘curriculum vitae’ (that’s a resume, for anyone over the Atlantic).

Your CV could just be the document that brings you fame and fortune – so what do you put in this all-important resume to help seal the deal and win you that new job?

Do:

  • Ensure your damn name and contact details are on it. Someone may have spotted you as the next thrusting buck needed for their dynamic doe-herding business, but it ain’t getting you no job offers if you don’t have your name, email address and telephone number on it.
  • Make your email address appropriate –  ihatemondays, tfifriday, biglover or other ‘personal’ addresses should be avoided.
  • Keep it to two pages of A4. Done. Nope don’t argue. I’m sure it’s thrilling to you that you once worked in Iceland stacking the freezers with mini vol-au-vents, but unless it’s incredibly relevant, a very brief one-liner will do.
  • Generally try to lead with your most recent work/life/study experience first. Yes, you can highlight previous relevant experience, but the older the job the more likely it is that technology, processes and biscuits will have moved on. Employers want to know what you’re doing now and that you’ve moved on from pink wafers, custard creams and Bourbons.
  • Be honest. Of course everyone ‘expands’ their CV and adds some flare to doe herding (reindeer rearing, moose management, pudu performance appraisals), but if you blatantly lie, you will get found out and even the smallest lie will ensure your CV languishes in the outbox marked ‘Destroy – Exterminate – Shred like White House memo’s’.
  • Explain gaps in your CV or why there was sudden change from management accounting to doe herding. Companies are not mind readers. Gaps in CVs often indicate unemployment, which can indicate you’ve been fired a LOT. If this isn’t the case, then explain – a good note is to put this alongside your role description – your reason for leaving. No one should have an issue with a change of career, career break or redundancy, but if you’re invited for interview then do expect to be asked to expand on what you’ve been doing in that time.
  • Talk about achievements and not just what you did. Talk about how you helped increase sales, brought a team together or implemented a project. If it was taken forward, let potential employers know. Your innovative doe-herding harness might be just the thing we’re looking for.
  • Tailor your CV for the role you’re applying for. We know, we know, sending out hundreds of CVs can be debilitating, but companies want to give you a job, they want you to be the best candidate and they want to know what you’ll bring to the table. Take the time, read the job description, candidate profile and their website – a little bit of legwork now might see you pole-vaulting across the finish line.
  • Ensure your CV experience matches up with any online references. Discrepancies and inaccuracies lead potential employers to question your integrity and motives.

Don’t:

  • Add pretty graphics, your photo, gifs or memes unless you work in this kind of industry. It distracts from what a potential employer is looking for – you! Unless you’re an actor or assassin there really is no need for a head shot (assassin, get it! sigh) and you should judge any company accordingly that ask for one.
  • Post anything unsuitable on your Facebook and other social media accounts. If you’re going to have public social media accounts then be very careful what you post. In these technology based times, companies will google you and they’ll trawl through your recent Malaga trip, the rants about your company and the ill-advised theft of last year’s novelty Rudolph. Your public online presence should be professional and we’ll be posting tips on how not to writte your Linkedin bio soon.
  • Start your CV or covering letter with a diatribe on all the things the company can do for you and what you want from them. Remember, you’re not alone in trying to sell yourself for this role, in what is an unfortunately saturated market (yes, even doe herders are ten a penny). So YOU need to stand out: you need to show employers what you can bring to them, not vice versa.  
  • Be tempted to just copy your job description, verbatim. Job descriptions are necessary but dull. They’re also available online and with agencies, so it doesn’t show that you’ve made much of an effort.
  • Ramble. Be succinct, with a list of key elements. If you’ve had a ‘varied’ career and the roles don’t link in with the job you’re applying for, feel free to gloss over, or extract, the key pieces of info that somehow make up that special little nugget called ‘relevant experience’.
  • Just include your qualifications and educational background, even if you’re straight of out school/college/uni. Employers want to know about your life experience, even if it was helping at scouts, volunteering for a charity or that Saturday job you had on the doe farm, it all involves dealing with people and building skills. Tell employers what you learnt from these experiences – just don’t lead with ‘I never want to do stock check for Tesco’s ever again’.
  • Get your mum to write it. Get a trusted friend or colleague to read it over, check for typos and spelling mistakes, but employers can spot Mum (or Dad) CVs a mile off.
  • Add referees to the end of your CV if you haven’t checked with them that they’re happy to provide one. You’d be amazed how many people do this – and your sixth-from-last previous employer may not remember you, rate or like you.

How Not To Writte… A Halloween or Fireworks Night Invite

The leaves are turning myriad shades of gold and rust on the trees, the huge, spindly-legged spiders are once again returning to their haunts in the corner of the living room, and across the land, families are arguing about whether it is, or is not, cold enough to justify putting the central heating on – it’s Autumn, folks!

And as any self-respecting Brit will tell you, there are only two dates in the Autumn social calendar worth worrying about:

  1. Halloween – the coming of the Autumn’s evil spirits, the Day of the Dead, or the night Cheryl from the local pub dons an ill-advised catsuit and emits a feral growl at anyone who’ll listen.
  2. Fireworks/Bonfire Night – the day we all gather around a giant bonfire and set off fireworks to commemorate the day some bloke in a massive hat almost succeeded in blowing up the English Parliament with gunpowder (yeah, we’re not sure why this is suitable for kids either…)

If you’re going get everyone along to your Halloween bash/Bonfire Night extravaganza, you’re gonna need to craft some ghoulishly great copy for your invites.

Here’s the dos and don’ts:

Do:

  • Be creative. Go wild, indulge your inner puns, dodgy Paint and Photoshop skills and overuse of Halloween fonts…(hello ‘Onyx’ my old friend).
  • Remember to give the location and a contact number – you’ll be amazed once you’ve covered your invite with pumpkins and Trump effigies that there’s no room to tell people where they need to assemble.
  • Give the date/time… always useful to know when we’re supposed to turn up, before midnight, lest you want a pile of Cinderella-style pumpkins littering your doorstep.
  • Be clear if you are expecting people to RSVP (or materialise ghostlike out of thin air), come in fancy dress (and the dreaded couples costumes), or bring something (severed head, booze, zombie survival kit).
  • Go mad with the alliteration or throwing in a pun or two, just don’t overdo it. Halloween Hijinks, Poltergeist Party, Ghostly Get-together…the list is (sadly) endless.
  • Go old school/vintage – an intricate lace-patterned gothic-style invite, with archaic terminology can work particularly well. Remember this was the time of Stoker, Mary Shelley, Poe (but not Pooh), gothic romances etc, so feel free to take inspiration from literature. Think soiree, affair, reception rather than party. Be very formal; i.e. ‘Your presence is cordially requested’.
  • Use language to create a little bit of mystery and intrigue (and a lot of internet searching)  by promising Nanty narking and that everyone will be tight as a boiled owl (Ed: nope, I’m none the wiser either).

Don’t:

  • Start your first line of the invite with the words ‘Fancy a big bang?’.  It’s a cliché, it’s dull and unimaginative – use at your peril or fear of derision.
  • Use any other clichés. The same goes for witches brew, the witching hour and spooktacular…….
  • Be a knob when people don’t turn up in fancy dress. Their body, their choice.
  • Make the invite so cryptic that your intended guests have no idea they’ve actually been invited to the party/firework display of the century.
  • Forget to state if it’s family friendly, and what time carriages can come and collect as some of your guests may have babysitters to relieve (Ed: no, not like that, you filth-monger).

 

How Not To Writte… A Dating Profile

So you’ve exhausted the local bars, crochet circle and date recommendations from friends and have decided to plunge headfirst into the world of online dating. But how do you craft the perfect profile that highlights your individual talents/style and gets those emails filling up your inbox quicker than an English stranger mentioning the weather.    

Do

  • Write the profile in the correct way… Be warm, friendly, honest and tell your potential date a little bit about yourself. The idea is to give a snapshot of the type of person you are. Don’t shy away from stating things you feel strongly and passionately about; after all you would want someone who could at least meet you halfway on things that are important to you.
  • Be original, use humour. If you can’t do that, then be honest and sincere.
  • Be positive… (end of, really no argument here, move along please).
  • Say what you’re looking for in a partner, but be prepared to be flexible. You are not looking for someone who matches you on everything you say/do/wear/ingest – you’re hoping for someone who can bring out your best qualities and won’t run a mile at your worst. A smorgasbord checklist of perfect qualities may see you miss out one someone who is just ‘perfect enough’.
  • Write something! Yes we know it sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many profiles say very little and just come across as a tick list of wants. Potential dates need to have a ‘hook’ to get them interested – profiles with no photo, detail or warmth shout boring, not interested – or worse – player!
  • Keep an air of mystery: it’s half the fun getting to know people. We don’t need your whole life story to start of with, think onions, think trifles, think bricks… yep it’s all about the layers.
  • Be careful with your profile name. Don’t use your real name, or really obscure references and check how the spelling can be interpreted…seriously, HNTW once saw a profile listed as cuminthedog. Yep!

Don’t

  • Post your business CV – you’re looking for a partner not an investor.
  • Men – do not say ‘partner in crime’. Women – do not say ‘knight in shining armour’.  Seriously you’re just inciting a spate of armoury robberies.
  • Don’t have your profile picture of you with your boobs or pecs/penis out and then have the comment ‘Want to be taken seriously/looking for my forever person’. You are quite frankly…a knob.
  • Copy someone else’s profile.
  • Get someone else to write it. It’s ok to use the occasional ‘reference comment’ but if you really struggle with words, just say that on the profile and be nice with, ‘this is really difficult, but um, I’m nice, I hope you’re nice, maybe our ‘nices’ can get together for a chat’.
  • Say you’re looking for friendship and then in your first message ask for their number, invite them to meet your mum or join you in your hotel, so you can ‘show them around the sights’.
  • Denigrate others choices in your profile. HNTW saw a profile that said actresses and models ‘should get a real job’. Please keep this closed mind thinking to yourself, you’ll have plenty of time to weed out the supermodels when they come flocking to your door.
  • Use it as a soapbox to bitch about your ex or bang on about your political ideals, the state of the world, state of Waitrose or state of your deranged mind.
  • Put a timeline on your profile with when a response is needed by. It shows you’re desperate and automatically puts pressure on the other person.

How Not To Writte… A Holiday Postcard

It’s that time of year again. The schools are out, the out-of-office messages are on and everyone’s jetting off to sunnier climes to enjoy their fortnight of sand, sea and sangria.

And if there’s one thing we ALL love about going on holiday, it’s rubbing our friends’ and family’s noses in just how amazing our vacation is in comparison to their week of work at the corporate grindstone. Second only to forcing your nearest and dearest to painfully trawl through your Instagram posts, is the sending of the obligatory postcard back home.

Even in the digital age, we still get a strange sense of pleasure in sending a badly colourised photo of a long-dead seaside donkey to our relations. And with apps like TouchNote allowing us to send printed postcard versions of the holiday snaps on our smartphones, there’s little sign that the allure of the postcard is on the wane.

So, how do you write that perfect postcard home? Here’s the dos and don’ts for making your holiday postcard as palatable as possible, without rubbing too much salt (sun cream) into the wound.

Do:

  • Make sure you get the address correct. You might still be operating from a dog-eared address book you started in 1991, or you may be very high tech and have your addresses saved to your Google contacts. But either way, get the house number and post code right, or your friend/relative’s neighbours will get to find out all about your regrettable attack of explosive diarrhoea in the local taverna.
  • Pick a card with a lovely photo of your destination. To achieve maximum smugness points, you want your hotel and/or beach to look as awesome as possible. So choose a postcard that has the blue skies, golden beaches and beautiful vistas that will induce intense sensations of FOMO in whoever receives it.
  • Be succinct about the holiday. No-one wants War & Peace written out on the back of their postcard, so keep it short and to the point. Tell them about Grandma’s inadvertent dive into the rock pool, explain why Auntie Sarah is coming back with an ‘interesting’ sunburn mark and feel free to inform your recipient just why Mum has decided to set up a taverna with the moustachioed Georgios –  short bullet points will suffice; you can bore them rigid with the full details once you get back to Blighty with your stuffed donkey and extra holiday pounds.
  • Finish with a nice, ‘look forward to seeing you’, or ‘catch up soon’ – but do not use ‘wish you were here’. If you did, you’d’ve invited them, and you didn’t, therefore you don’t want to spend your holiday with them and that’s just rubbing salt in the jellyfish wound.

Don’t:  

  • Choose a highly inappropriate photo. Much as you may find it hilarious to send an image of a ripped Spanish man in speedos to your Great Auntie Enid, remember that it’s best not to offend your recipient, or give the Post Office workers any cause for a raised eyebrow (or more) when delivering your card.
  • Go right up to the margins with your writing. There’s limited space on the back of a postcard, which means you’ve only got a certain amount of capacity to fit in all your hastily scrawled writing. Limit yourself to a few paragraphs and some short bullets to get your point across, and don’t use tiny illegible handwriting that only a criminologist with a microscope will be able to read.
  • Write in the margins, around the margins, or by the postage stamp. No trying to be clever getting the recipient to turn the postcard clockwise to try and read anything, they won’t or they’ll end up with a crick in their neck – either way, they’re not going to be happy.
  • Leave instructions for your house sitter or other friends back home, you should have thought about that before you left. A postcard that the whole village may see is not the place to tell your sister where to find the back door key.
  • Try writing poetry, on any account. You may be half cut on sangria or ouzo, but there’s really no excuse for inflicting your badly-scanning rhymes on anyone other than yourself (and Georgios of course).

How Not To Writte… Stag & Hen Do Invites

We’ve already explained how to write the perfect wedding invitation, but for both halves of any prospective married couple there’s also the looming prospect of stag or hen dos to think about.

Whether you’re the handsome groom, the blushing bride or one partner in a non-binary relationship, it’s likely that your ‘so-called friends’ are going to want to take you out and get you royally shit-faced in the last weeks of singledom leading up to your marriage. Your ‘do’ may be a week-long alcoholic binge-fest in Marbs, or a sedate weekend at a health spa, but either way someone’s gonna need to organise the whole shebang and get some invitations out to the prospective stags/hens/drunken animals of your choice.

Usually, it’s gonna be your bezzie mate, or the lucky person you’ve chosen to be your best man/maid of honour, but we’ll leave it up to you who gets the dubious honour of being Chief Organiser.

So here’s our tips for getting the invite to your pre-wedding shindig in shape…

Do:

  • Decide early what your communication medium will be: are you going to do this all through old-school email, or are you going to set up a Facebook event where your stags/hens/weasels can click to show they’re attending and add comments, photos and their emojis of choice? If you’re feeling really 21st century, you could even set up a WhatsApp group – the world is your social media oyster.
  • Check with your hen/stag/weasel what they want and who they want there. Of course you can throw in a few surprises, but the aim is for them to have a good time, and waving a weasel in someone’s face may only appeal to a select few (Ed: Mainly other weasels, having a weasely good time). Remember broad appeal across age ranges, an evening or early hours opt-out is good for those that just aren’t able fiscally or physically to keep up the pace.
  • Draft your invite clearly and simply. The main things you’re going to want to include are: the dates when it’s happening, the location you’ve chosen, the accommodation you’ve booked and – crucially – how much it’s going to cost. Your group of assorted wild animals will want to know a budget and what they’re getting for their money, so make it clear.
  • Include instructions on how to pay you for any outlay you’ve made, and include bank or PayPal details to make it as easy as possible. Explain that you’re out of pocket, that each person owes you £X amount and that you need paying by a certain date. Set a deadline for payment or you’ll still be chasing Barry ‘Smudger’ Jenkins for his £250 come Christmas time.
  • Include an itinerary for the day/weekend/week that you’re all going to be away. Again, keep it simple, but include the main dates, the activities you’ll be doing and get anyone who’s not happy with the go-karting/Swedish massage option to let you know ASAP.

Don’t:

  • Get overly complicated and in-depth with the detail of your activities. Yes, there’s a lot of drinking, eating and blowing up inflatable willies/breasts to do, but you can sort out the details once you’re at the hotel. Your invite and itinerary are there to give people a flavour of what they’re signing up for – it’s not a military operation!
  • Insist on everyone on the hen/stag/weasel do having a wacky nickname. Post-Brexit, the British people have gone down enough in the estimation of the rest of Europe, so the last thing Prague or Madrid needs is Shagger and The Cock Monster shouting across their city squares and then falling into a fountain.
  • As per the previous point, don’t get t-shirts printed with your group’s wacky nicknames on the back and ‘Boys/Girls On Tour 2017’ emblazoned across the back. Enjoy yourself, have a blast but don’t make your group stand out like a sore thumb.
  • Forget to include the cost and your payment details. It really is VITAL if you’re not gonna end up paying for at least five of your party to have a free holiday. Friends may be friends, but people are very conveniently forgetful when it comes to coughing up the money they owe.

How Not To Writte… A Wedding RSVP

You’ve heard the heavyweight envelope drop through the letterbox. And you’ve seen the expensive-looking and elaborately designed wedding invitation that lurks within, in all its ornate glory. Now it’s time to reply to that invitation and get your RSVP back to the happy couple. (Ed: for the RSVP virgins out there, RSVP stands for ‘Répondez, s’il vous plait’, which is French for ‘please reply’ – we’re SO continental!).

But beware, replying to a wedding invite isn’t an occasion where a hastily typed ‘I’ll be there with bells on!!’ will suffice. As with all things relating to weddings, there’s a protocol to these things. So here’s how to reply without offending the bride, outraging the groom or starting a family argument over the seating plan.

Do:

  • Be timely. More than anything you need to get your response back promptly and absolutely before the date shown on the invite. Yes we know you’re busy too, sitters to arrange all that, but planning a wedding can be like organising a small well-behaved coup – so give the couple a break and respond quickly.
  • Be clear on who’s coming. If you’re bringing a guest, state who. Even if it’s obvious that it’s your new fella Jeff that you’ve been seeing for 3 months, don’t make the organisers guess whether it’s on or off again.
  • Follow any instructions on the RSVP. If they want you to tick a box, tick a box (Ed;  even though we know you’re not the kind that likes to be put in a box, as your cat Schrodinger keeps reminding you). If it says email someone’s mum, go ahead and email Mildred. If it says good old-fashioned post then, yes, you may need to make a trip to the shops to procure some stamps.

Don’t:

  • Put a list of demands of what you need. You’re a guest, it’s nice that you’ve been invited.  If you have certain dietary needs just state them clearly, but don’t insist on organic locally sourced free-range hummus. It’s their wedding, not yours.
  • Try and weasel in extra guests. Be it your children or Great Auntie Betty from the outer Hebrides. The couple have taken a long time planning their numbers and have a budget they need to stick to. If it honestly clashes with something else, then just say so and regretfully decline. The last thing a couple needs in the run-up is you begging to bring extra people along, remember you’re not the only guest who might be in this predicament.
  • Go, if you don’t want to. If you’re really not keen on the couple then don’t attend, just be polite, return your ‘no’ and leave them be. Very few couples will moan that their guest list is smaller.
  • Get uppity, if you’ve clearly been put on a reserve list. Remember, in most instances, that family and close friends come first, then work colleagues, then George the friendly butcher. Don’t be put out – and if you are, don’t say so, just decline. (Ed: And if you’re George, please bring sausages).

If you’re a happy bride/groom reading this and worrying about how to write the perfect wedding invitation, we’ve got all the dos and don’ts you need here.

How Not To Writte… A Political Manifesto

As you may have noticed from the wall-to-wall TV debates, never-ending media coverage and eager canvassing in the high street, there’s a general election taking place in the UK on 8 June. We’ve heard a lot of election promises, a lot of denouncing of other parties and their MPs and (on the whole) an awful lot of hot air from many of the candidates.

But if your party is going to convince the electorate to vote for you, you’re gonna need to get your promises, pledges and predictions down into a proper document and not just the back of a fag packet. That means rolling up your writing sleeves, finding the best biro in Westminster and writing a manifesto that sets out your vision for the future of the country, and makes your underlying political ideology clear to us, the already voting fatigued masses.

So, how do you get that manifesto on point? Here’s the dos and don’ts…

Do:

  • Bag the best biro in Westminster. This will be difficult with all the stationery budget cuts and Peggy’s tight grip on the hidden chamber of pens, but you can do it.
  • Set out the key foundations of your political beliefs. This is your soapbox (or eco-friendly cleaning product recyclable platform of choice) for explaining the core values and beliefs of your party, so make it concise, simple and to the point. It’s a chance to get your target voters on board and singing your praises from the rafters (and Wetherspoons), so make sure you grab the opportunity with both hands!
  • Put your big ideas right at the start of the manifesto. No-one, apart from political journalists, will read every word of it, so make sure you capture people’s attention as quickly as possible.
  • Use plain English and explain your ideas clearly. You’re not writing this for the Westminster clique, or the supporters in your own party: you’re writing this for the person in the street. So keep the language clear and unflowery and make sure that ‘Doris, 87, Burnley’ and ‘Sunny, 18, Uttoxeter’ have as much and idea about your policy on education as Tarquin and Tabitha, your research assistants.

Don’t:

  • Fill your manifesto full of lies and half-truths. The electorate are not quite as dozy and complacent as you’d like to think. If you’re going to make a claim or quote a statistic it needs to have the source quoted and it needs to stand up to some scrutiny. That goes for radio interviews and sides of buses alike.
  • Spend more time on the branding of the party and the press marketing than on the ideas contained in the manifesto. Yes, it’s important that the document looks engaging and makes the average punter want to read it, but if the pledges inside are a pile of undiluted hogwash then you’re rather wasting your time.
  • Try to write a sequel to War & Peace. Detail is good, a breakdown of the finances and funding is excellent, but don’t make it so long that people are loath to even pick it up. In the digital age, attention spans are short, so keep it readable and to the point.
  • Don’t include a photo of your illustrious leader kissing a baby/shaking hands with a construction worker/eating a bacon sandwich. They never pan out well and most of us seasoned voters can sniff out these PR photo opportunity before you can say ‘Jacob Rhys-Mogg in a hard hat’.
  • Slag off your opponents. It makes you look cheap and bitchy. Concentrate on your values and your plans – let the others dig their own holes with their hot air and diversionary tactics.

How Not To Writte… A Note To Your Flatmate

If you’ve ever lived in a flatshare, student halls or a communal house, then you’ll be VERY familiar with the situation of your food ‘mysteriously’ disappearing in the night (and your flatmate being equally mysteriously covered in crumbs the next morning).

So when someone steals your cheese, or nibbles on your leftover sausage (Ed: easy, tiger!), we all know there’s only one course of action to take – and that’s writing a hugely passive aggressive note to your food-snaffling flatmate on your own choice of brightly coloured Post-it.

Do:

  • Calmly express that you wish to discuss the current ‘missing food’ situation, without any accusations being thrown about, with a view to reaching a mutually agreeable compromise.
  • Express in clear terms which item, or items, of food you believe they are ‘misappropriating’, how much said foodstuff cost you and how much you were looking forward to that last slice of leftover frittata.
  • Offer to buy said items for them in the weekly shop, so you can both enjoy the taste experience without any ill feeling – as long as they come up with some spondoolies to cover the cost of having to re-buy the item.
  • Suggest a house/flat meeting to discuss division of food stuffs, and suggest perhaps generic foodstuffs that you both/all enjoys are brought out of a household kitty (the financial kind, we don’t condone using the house cat as a rudimentary .

Don’t:

  • Write ‘You bloody cock womble, you’ve eaten all of my bloody frittata again. Right, that’s it, I’m hiding the loo roll!!!!’ as this will undoubtedly aggravate the situation further (and will also mean you have to carry your loo roll around with you at all times).
  • Change the house Wi-Fi network name to ‘youfrittatastealinbastard’ in a fit of pique and refuse to let the food kleptomaniac know the password. This may well be a great feat of revenge, but will also royally piss of everyone else in the house.
  • Write a vengeful status update on Facebook/Twitter/Insta calling your hungry housemate the spawn of Satan as this will almost certainly be read by a mutual acquaintance who will @mention them, landing you in a whole pile of donkey doo.
  • Forget that food can always be bought again, but that the happy vibe in your house is more difficult to replace…so try to resolve the food situation as peacefully as possible (or wait till there’s something really nice of theirs in the fridge and hide it).

How Not To Writte…House Sale Particulars

The UK housing market isn’t exactly looking buoyant at the mo, but many of us are still looking to up sticks and put our house on the market. Whether that’s down to a change in personal circumstances, the need to free up capital or merely a lifelong search to find a mortgage rate that doesn’t leave you bankrupt and begging your parents for beer as payday approaches, there’s always going to be someone ready to nail a ‘For Sale’ board to the garden fence.

But how do you ensure that those nice people who can get a mortgage, or indeed the lesser spotted ‘cash buyer’, see your advert and want to buy your very own ‘mi casa’?

Do:

  • Point out your home’s selling points. Yeah, obvious we know, but remember people from outside your locale may be looking to relocate, so if it’s great for families, has low crime rates, incorporates a beautiful balcony or its own well-established vineyard, make sure you mention it.
  • If the house is ripe for redevelopment, investment and extending, let people know that it has potential. Some people LOVE a ‘project’ to work on, as even a cursory glance at Homes Under The Hammer on daytime TV will tell you.
  • Put the damn postcode on the advert. There’s nothing worse than trying to locate your dream home and realising you’ve been looking in the wrong ‘Middle Codswallop’, or that your ideal house is conveniently situated next to Yorkshire’s largest sewage works.
  • List the property’s best points first. Great selling points can include having a garden, a built-in garage, resplendent views of the countryside, large and roomy bedrooms or a brand spanking new Italian-designed kitchen that looks like it’s straight out of a brochure.
  • Include details of the parking arrangements and transport links, number of rooms, heating type and whether there are local shops etc (Ed: No need to mention the regular lock-in at the pub, or that your home is located equidistant to diddly-squat).

Don’t:

  • Say cosy, bijou, compact, or easy-to-maintain living space to describe your property – we all know this means postage stamp-sized lounge, where in one stride you can make a cup of tea/go to bed/have a wee.
  • Use the phrase park/city/area adjacent – any savvy buyer will be aware that this means you’re trying to extend the reach of a catchment area to include your property, which actually sits in the not-so-attractive area five miles outside the city.
  • Forget ancillary rooms and areas. If you’ve got a shed (and it’s staying) shout about it! Many a chap (or chapess) have been won over by the thought of escaping into the garden for peace and quiet with a copy of the Littlewoods’ lingerie pages and a tight grip on their power tool. (Ed: *makes mental note never to visit your shed*)