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.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

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

Résumé Failures and Faux Pas

Good Morning, Readers!

Ever wonder if your résumé is up to the tough challenges of the current job market? With a large amount of top talent, like you, on the hunt for a new career, people are beginning to get a little creative with their résumés and cover letters to spark excitement.

While some spunk may grab the attention of the hiring manager, others are a downright no-go. Today, I couldn’t resist sharing a very interesting and rather baffling CareerBuilder survey I found called “Common and Not-So-Common Resume Mistakes That Can Cost You the Job.” Here are the unforgiveable blunders they discovered:iStock_000018568936Large

  • Résumé was submitted from a person the company just fired
  • Résumé’s “Skills” section was spelled “Skelze”
  • Résumé listed the candidate’s objective as “To work for someone who is not an alcoholic with three DUIs like my current employer”
  • Résumé included language typically seen in text messages (e.g., no capitalization and use of shortcuts like “u”)
  • Résumé consisted of one (run-on) sentence: “Hire me, I’m awesome”
  • Résumé listed the candidate’s online video gaming experience leading warrior “clans,” suggesting this passed for leadership experience
  • Résumé included pictures of the candidate from baby photos to adulthood
  • Résumé was written in Klingon language from Star Trek
  • Résumé was a music video
  • Résumé didn’t include the candidate’s name
  • On the job application, where it asks for your job title with a previous employer, the applicant wrote “Mr.”
  • Résumé included time spent in jail for assaulting a former boss

Do your résumés have any of these formidable faux pas? If so, time to do a serious round of editing to get it up to snuff! Take a look at my post, Reasons for No Résumé Responses, for more helpful hints.

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Warm Wishes,

Anita

Reasons for No Résumé Responses

A reader writes…

Anita,

I am desperately seeking a job and I feel as though I am sending out résumés left and right with no response. I have experience in a variety of fields and have been stretching the boundaries just to find some type of employment. What am I doing wrong?

Hi, Craving Call-backs,

Thanks for the question. I have a feeling many of you out there are experiencing this problem in your job search. With the lagging economy, fewer employers are actively hiring large numbers of people and the competition for those jobs is much steeper.Keyboard Bite

I have come up with a list of 8 reasons why you may not be getting the “we must hire them” response. Check them out below.

1. Applying for a job you are not qualified for. Many of you are looking to find any job available and have tried applying to jobs for which you do not meet the minimum requirements. It seems like it is worth a shot, right? Wrong. Unbeknownst to the masses, job descriptions do serve a higher purpose than just putting some text out hoping to hook a few applicants. They clearly spell out the necessary skills, training, education, duties, and responsibilities of the job. If a company is looking for a person with 5-7 years’ experience in the automotive sales industry and you have 2 years of sales experience and love cars, odds are you won’t get the call-back. It’s better not to waste your time or theirs by submitting your résumé. See my advice on when to go for it and when to forgo it in my blog  Applying for a Job When Not 100% Qualified.

2. Generic cover letter and résumés. Employers are well aware of job seekers that work on autopilot, distributing the same résumé whenever they feel even the slightest pulse. Before you send out a résumé or cover letter, take the time to tailor it to the job you are applying for. For a full list of tips on how to do this visit my post How to Tailor Your Résumé. As for cover letters, do your research and include the hiring manager’s name, company name, and business address, even when it is an email. If you need more pointers, see my other post called Covering the Cover Letter. Remember, it is the little things that get you noticed.

3. Generic job title. As we have seen in the previous section, generic is not the way to go. It can come off as lazy or disinterested. If the job description says they are looking for the Director of First Impressions (or receptionist, in layman’s terms), by all means put that as the job you are striving to obtain!

4. You don’t live there. If you are looking for a job in a city other than where you reside, you will most likely be pushed to the wayside. Employers do not want to pay for relocation and do not want to interview a candidate they know Lost in the Pileis not in the area. If you have friends or family who live near the job location, use their address on your résumé. Check out my post Landing a Job Long Distance for more advice.

5. Keywords in job description not included. With the large influx of résumés coming in for advertised positions, many companies do not have the time to read them all. It is common practice now to feed résumés through software programs that pick up keywords that apply to that position. If you do not reach the set number of keywords necessary to move to the next round, your résumé will be discarded. A great way to lower your chances of this happening is to skim the job description and include as many keywords as you can without being grammatically incorrect or overly obvious. See ATS 101: Demystifying Applicant Tracking Systems.

6. Didn’t follow instructions. Be sure to read the job description very carefully. Some employers have very strict standards and procedures on how they accept applications, résumés, and other materials. If they request that you send your résumé in Word and you send them a PDF, right off the bat, you have shown you cannot follow directions. Who wants a person like that as an employee? If they require that you submit three references and you submit two, odds are that you will be rejected before you can say “hire me.” By the way, this includes salary requirements. I know it seems you’ll be pricing yourself too low or too high, but there are ways to give a number and then indicate you’re flexible.

7. Focused on duties, not accomplishments. Employers want to see what you have accomplished, not what you did on a daily basis. Accomplishments show drive, ambition, productivity, and more. List actions that you can take credit for. Try to use words like managed, implemented, developed, applied, created, etc.

8. Typos in résumés. Punctuation problems, misspelled words, and goofed-up grammar force many employers to slam on their brakes. With computers, spell-check, and (I know I will sound old here) plenty of dictionaries, there is almost no excuse for you to have grammatical errors and typos in your résumé. Do not always trust spell-check; go through the entire document from bottom to top and read every word. Proofread it over and over again and ask for feedback from professionals you trust. If you notice a typo after the fact, do not send a corrected version, but definitely fix your résumé before sending it out to the next opening.  Be sure to check for these common mistakes I find all the time:

  • Is the correct word there, their, or they’re? It’s or its? Where or wear? Figure it out, and be right!
  • Bulleted items should only end in a period if they are complete sentences.
  • Jobs, activities, and accomplishments you have had in the past are in past tense. Those that are current are in the present tense (manage vs. managed, raise vs. raised, negotiates vs. negotiated).

I hope with these tips you can begin to see the résumé response from employers you are looking for. It is also important to remember that recruiters and employers are swamped with job inquiries. Give it about 1-2 weeks before following up with that prospect or putting that position behind you. Keep your chin up and your attitude positive!

Readers, have you had trouble getting résumé responses from potential employers? What have you found to be the best trick to get the call-backs rolling in?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Happy Hunting,

Anita

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.
%d bloggers like this: