Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Y U Don't Connect - Part 2

Tip #2 – Write clearly, intelligently, and with grammatical correctness.

The YU Connects/Saw You at Sinai profile requests that each user fill out a few written sections, describing their family background, who they are, and what they’re looking for - the later only seen by connectors and not potential matches.

It would stand to reason that since these are the portions of the profile that more directly represent who you are – what your hashakafos, beliefs, religious level, and personality traits are – instead of selecting from multiple pre-written terms like the rest of the profile, you’d want to make sure that what you write is an accurate, detailed presentation of what you want a potential spouse to know and consider.

Yet, in the short time that ASoG and I have been serving as connectors, we’ve seen some profiles that are woefully ill-prepared. Here are a few pointers for writing a good profile.

1) Do NOT leave sections blank - It seems simple enough, right? Choosing to leave one of these sections empty creates a gap of knowledge both for the potential match AND the connectors who will know be clueless regarding key elements about you.

People want to know what your family is like, because they envision some sort of in-law relationship based on their personal experience and needs. People need to know about you, because anyone can simply click a bunch of multiple choice options, whereas writing details shows (to a greater degree) what you’re about. Lastly, the section of what you are looking for, if left blank, really inhibits the connectors’ ability to learn more about you and make more accurate matches aside from the computerized categorical comparisons (like religious level, age and height preference, etc).

If a potential match has no clue what you’re about, why would they accept the match? If the connector doesn’t have the foggiest idea who you are and what you’re looking for, how are we supposed to make a thoughtful suggestion? Not writing anything, or not writing enough (see more below) forces us to send you fairly randomized selections chosen by the computer match-up. A lot of people complain that matches sent to them are seemingly without sufficient thought or to “just fill a quota” – connectors are supposed to spend 6 hours a week making matches after all. While the criticism may be true of some/many people who aren’t being serious about their responsibilities as shadchanim, there are others who really do care and want to do a good job (I’m not just referring to ASoG and I – we personally know many very dedicated connectors). We can’t help you if you don’t help us get to know you.

2) Write more than 2 sentences – But you don’t need a whole megillah either. Two succinct, accurate sentences (which they rarely ever are) are better than nothing written at all, but why shouldn’t you be more thorough? The more you write the better, because the reader gets a greater sense of how you think, what you want, what you envision for your future, etc. Some people may feel intimidated or threatened by writing extremely long description of yourself, but others truly appreciate the fact that you wrote a detailed account of who you are and what you’re about. Expanding on what you selected in the earlier sections of the profile – like your learning schedule, views on TV/movies/pop culture, how close you are to your family – can only serve to either convince someone that indeed you are an appropriate match, or demonstrate that you are a great person, but not what they are looking for, and thus no one wastes their time.

From the connector’s standpoint, more is always better – especially in the “what you’re looking for” section. We appreciate someone who is thorough, but fair – NOT someone who writes such an extremely limited set of characteristics, such as “Must be 5’ 5-7”, blond hair, super-model skinny, and with a face pretty enough to launch a thousand ships, because I simply can’t love anyone else.” Aside from the fact that odds are, your choice of turning down every single girl who doesn’t meet this criterion prevents you from going out with great girls, it also means you’re going to get very few suggestions from us, or that we’re going to get tired when you decline every profile we send you because you cite “Physical Appearance.”

3) PLEASE utilize proper grammar, spelling, capitalization, etc. In other words – don’t be “cute” or write as though this were an instant/text message or email to your buddies. Let your date see how “cute” you are in person, where it really counts. As Bad4 mentioned in a comment on my first post in this series – women don’t find it attractive if you write “i lik 2 go on walkz, tlk 2 pretty gurls, n learn tons of torah.” Even if you actually list things that are reputable and describe yourself accurately, not taking the time to write in a professional manner reflects very poorly of your education and your attitudes toward being mature and serious about life. If you are a fun person, write that while providing concrete examples like any properly educated adult would, instead of producing something that looks like it was composed by a middle schooler.

Generally, I would assume that most people would have very little difficulty writing something coherent and readable, though I know that some people legitimately have trouble when writing things like essays for English class. Just like in that scenario, if you want to get that A – get help. Ask someone you trust to read over what you’ve written and give helpful suggestions about phraseology, word choice, etc. If it comes down to it and you have no one who to turn to, ask your connector! We’re here to help you.

ASoG and I once saw a profile that said something to the effect of “I try to view the world and people I meet as positively and openly as I can, that’s why I’m such a pessimistic person.” We were pretty sure that they meant “optimistic” – but who knows. Either way, the mistaken word choice looks bad, and if the person is legitimately pessimistic – who wants to go out with that kind of person anyway?

We’ve also had a few conversations where the person suggested the shidduch wants to know more information because what is written in the profile, though seemingly accurate is vague. The person may mention they’re learning in yeshiva or attending a specific college – why not give some more details about that yeshiva or what course of study you are pursuing, including how far along you are in your educational career? It shouldn’t be the job of the connector to wheedle the information out of you. Related to that point…

4) Keep your profile updated ! If you graduate college, switch yeshivos, decide to drop pre-med and became a lawyer, I think any potential match needs to know these things. Leaving up outdated information is basically akin to someone calling you up and telling you about this great guy you knew back in high school, but have no clue what he’s up to nowadays – how does that help anyone? Please, if something changes in your life, add/correct that in your profile.

If during the course of your dating career you have a gradual evolution of sorts in your hashkafos, religious level, or your preferences for the type of person you are looking for – you NEED to alter your profile to reflect that. I’m not talking about changing your profile once a week to suit a new guy you decided you’re interested in. But every few months, take some time to reread what you’ve written and see if you’ve legitimately shifted perspectives a bit.

Taking a step back – make sure you do some critical thinking before you write the profile in the first place. Meditate on who you are, what you’re looking for, and where you want to go in life. Presenting that information as accurately as you can is the goal of the profile. You want that potential someone to read the things you’ve written, consider them, and make a decision that you are worth going out with, or that it’s not shayach. This whole system is designed to make things easier for everyone involved, singles and shadchanim alike.

If you don’t sit down, take this seriously and put some thought into writing about who you are and what you want in a spouse, how can we (connectors and potential matches) honestly trust any of the other categories that you simply clicked – perhaps without even an actual thought being processed in your brain? Anyone can absent-minded click their mouse a few dozen times, heck, everyone does that at some point for an online survey to try and win a gift certificate to Amazon.com or whatever. But this is NOT a situation where you can let your brain operate on auto-pilot!

Stay tuned for part 3!

P.S. For those of you who need a reason to date someone who can spell worth a darn, check out this 911 call (courtesy of Bad4):

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