Application for Oblivion

How to Lose an Award before You are in Contention for It

by Robert K. Thomas

  1. Be careless about spelling and sentence structure. A hundred correctly spelled words and carefully constructed sentences will not counter the capsizing weight of one careless error.
  2. Fail to follow directions exactly. If outlined procedures seem needlessly precise or complicated they may be testing your ability to adapt. Obedience is much rarer-and more prized-than initiative.
  3. Neglect to think of your application as a whole. Ideally, each part of your application should supplement and support every other part. Practically, you need to be sure that one section does not undercut another. Keep your entire application as interlocked as possible.
  4. Succumb to false modesty or bragging. Coyness in presenting yourself is a crime only matched by the suicide of overstatement.
  5. Fail to show judgment in presenting your accomplishments. No one is impressed by the quantity of your activities. A selective listing which shows that you can discriminate between the significant and the trivial is far more convincing.
  6. Fail to seem alive and purposeful. Dull applications never survive the first screening. Without resorting to tricks or gimmicks, you must present yourself so dynamically that judges become clearly acquainted with you. It is hard to reject someone you know.
  7. Choose your references whimsically. Conventional praise is discounted. Choose references carefully on the basis of their relevance to the particular award you are seeking.