Writing Matters

Anita,

I have been aplying to to alot of admin assistant jobs, and I can’t even get an interview. While I don’t have any experience, per say, I have great orgazational skills and am great at meeting dead lines why won’t someone give me a chance???  plz help me.

Red pen correcting proofread english text

Dear “Miss Spell,”

Even if you are not applying for a position as a journalist, your writing skills will be evaluated by those reading your résumé, cover letter, and correspondence. Despite the fact that many intelligent people were terrible spellers – George Washington and F. Scott Fitzgerald, to name a couple – spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and grammatical gaffes can make you appear, well, slightly stoopid. Take a look at these Cover Letters from Hell or résumé bloopers from Monster. (My favorite is “I am seeking a salary commiserate with my training and experience.” My sympathies for bungling your job chances because of that typo.)

Common Misspellings, Mistakes, and Muddles to Avoid

  • Your meeting is tomorrow, not tommorrow or tommorow
  • Accommodate has two Cs and two Ms.
  • Yours truly, not yours truley.
  • I’m sending my résumé under separate cover, not seperate. Remember, there’s a rat in separate.
  • There is definately no A, however, in definitely.
  • Did you receive my résumé? (The exception, “I before E except after C,” applies here.)
  • I believe I’m the best person for the job. (No exception here, the I goes before the E.)
  • I have the experience (not experiance) required.
  • Don’t be greatful for the opportunity to interview; be grateful.
  • You’re not in costumer service (unless you really do work in theater); you serve customers.
  • You have a Class A Commercial license, not a licence with double Cs.
  • It will be noticeable if you leave the E out of noticable.
  • Contact your Personnel Supervisor, not a Personal Supervisor.
  • Et cetera is abbreviated etc., not ect.
  • It’s a mistake to use the contraction for “it is” in its place. (Most possessives have an apostrophe – like Joe’s job – but “its” does not.)
  • Last, but not least, let’s address the homonyms there, their, and they’re.

Their = possessive pronoun
There = location/place
They’re = contraction of they + are

Used properly in one sentence: “They’re going over there in their car.”

Turn on Spelling & Grammar check automatically in your Word documents. Of course, technology can’t be relied upon to pick up every nuance. “I am fully aware of the king of attention to detail this position requires” [emphasis added] did not trigger any alerts, but wouldn’t escape a sharp recruiter’s notice.

Résumés are written in a kind of shorthand that breaks the conventional rules of English grammar. Incomplete sentences, often bulleted, are more conducive to quick scans by busy hiring managers who don’t have time to read a novel to discover if you are qualified for their open position. Check out Careerealism’s Special Grammar Rules for Résumés.

After creating any sort of business correspondence, check, double-check, and triple-check before hitting the “send” button. Better yet, find a second set of eyes – a friend or a colleague – to proof your work.

Readers: Have you ever noticed – after the fact – a mistake on your cover letter or résumé? Share your blunder below.
Recruiters: Do you have any humdingers from your Blooper Hall of Fame?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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RELATED POSTS:
Better Résumé Words, or How to Improve Your Résumé by a Thousandfold
Reasons for No Résumé Responses
TextSpeak Tip-Off

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stan Sperling
    May 04, 2016 @ 14:22:52

    I was using a form of a cover letter that I had used before. Everything was perfect except I forgot to change the date of the letter. I sent the letter in July of 2015 but the date had December 2014 instead. Needless to say I never heard anything from the employer.

    Reply

  2. Todd Hicks
    May 03, 2016 @ 22:40:07

    If there is only one minor typo or two, that should be overlooked because we’re all human.

    Reply

    • les
      May 05, 2016 @ 05:49:48

      exactly and the strain beng of unemployment and debt of job hunting are known by employers they now by the applicant and history that there are factors being used to create pressure on work force to weaken them, also the staffing agencies are all monitored for job seekers use and searches, the info is cross referenced, tabulated and fed back to potential employers.

      this has and is being done with out seekers knowledge to allow people to be segregated and targeted from the group and denied employment, for any reason weather protected or mot I reported employment discrimination and got targeted and discharged and out of work for four years, and now driven to debt by financial attrition, and coerced to request assistance.by utilities and phone services, to take away assets and home.

      Reply

  3. Suellen Plonski
    May 03, 2016 @ 17:13:41

    Sorry, just had to tag this one!
    “You have a Class A Commercial license, not a licence with double Cs.”
    Double Cs would be two Cs in sequential order: cc. This is just two Cs. And I love that you DON’T use an apostrophe! That SO bugs me!

    And yes, I have had some of those truly, as you say, stoopid (lovely little Brooklynese word there!) errors in my resume. Here’s my favorite: attention to detale – and this was referring to my position as a proofreader! Gotta love it.

    Reply

  4. Mr. Tim
    May 03, 2016 @ 15:25:33

    I may not remember any spelling errors, but I remember coming into an interview, limping on a very sore big toe. I topped the day off by spilling my water all over the interviewers. I did not get the job.

    Reply

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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