That's Mr. Mottola to you

I've been fielding a lot of internship applications lately from my alma mater, WWU. I'm happy to help the youngins get a foot in the door like that. However, I have been troubled by the number of students who address me as "Mrs. Mottola" in their emails.

I am sorry but misidentifying my gender and marital status (for now) does not communicate the "detail-oriented" qualities in your resume. Does "Paolo" really throw people off so much? How many women's names can you think of that end in "o"?

Not many. That's what I thought.

I was so moved by this trend that I emailed the department's administrator, Carol, and copied my favorite journalism professor, John Harris, to entertain him. I wrote:


Thank you again for circulating through our alumni network the open positions at Weber Shandwick. I have received 20+ applications so far to compete with the many other dozens of resumes my colleagues have received through their own networks. I am happy to see that students are so active.

I am unfortunately contacting you as the email below is one of a handful of applications from WWU students that have addressed me incorrectly.

I am a) a male and b) unmarried. Obviously the later wouldn't have been an issue if the student knew my gender in the first place. Oy. This is avoidable. I am unusually easy to find online! A Google search brings up my personal blog, Facebook, LinkedIn profile and Twitter pages. My hiring team is searching online to learn about our applicants and we advise they should do the same, if only to know whom they are addressing.

Considering the high volume of resumes we are receiving, not much differentiates those applying for entry level positions, but we are more likely to consider those who show some care to avoid making simple mistakes. I only flag this to you because I know the care that students put into their cover letters and resumes, and I hate to see them shoot themselves in the foot.

I ask that you DO NOT circulate this mail to the network to respect the student's confidentiality but rather use this to inform the staff about what students are doing wrong! I have received half a dozen emails with these same problems, and I have only received them from WWU students.

John, copying you as I'm sure you'd find it hilarious that someone thinks I am a taken woman.

Best, Paolo

The email drew the following reply from John:

Paula, er Paolo,

Congratulations on your marriage!

I will certainly use this as a teaching tool (without mentioning your or the offender's name).

Did you finish up the UW program? Has it been a good experience? I'm still working on my dissertation; in fact, I was just working on it, but I'd much rather be writing to a hot babe like you, even if you are taken.


If it were any consolation, I felt flattered.