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

TextSpeak Tip-Off

Hi Anita!!!!

I wanna ask u for advice cuz i’m not getting any job intvws after 4 mo. of sending my resume to lots of biz and I don’t know Y. Lemme know what 2 do. Ur the best!!!

Dear, Texter Extraordinaire,

texting

Your cover letter could be the difference between getting a phone call for the interview and your résumé going in the “no” pile. While abbreviated answers work well on your cell phone, as a job seeker, you’ll want to be sure to use proper sentences in business correspondence. Below are a few important items to include in your cover letter, whether you attach it as a Word document or include it in the body of an email.

  • Include the job title you are applying for and where you saw the position advertised.
  • Outline how your qualifications make you a good fit for the job, briefly but not in shorthand.
  • Reiterate your contact information, even though it appears on your résumé or job application.

Re-read all correspondence before sending. Incorrect spelling, faulty grammar, and improper punctuation may raise a red flag with your potential new boss. Don’t trust your Smartphone’s auto-correct or the telltale red lines under misspelled words in Microsoft Word. Your computer’s grammar check can help with homophones such as “their,” “there,” or “they’re,” but there is no substitute for proofreading your work.

txting_cartoon

I’d like to offer one final admonition about overusing exclamation points. Here’s my rule of thumb: use one exclamation mark per sentence and one exclamatory sentence per paragraph. There are better ways to add excitement to your writing than exclamation point overindulgence. As we told my grandson when he was younger, “Use your words.”

Bottom line – you may not be getting any interviews because you’re not making a great first impression with your communications skills. Clean up your presentation of your résumé and cover letter, and I bet you’ll “clean up” on the number of interviews you get invited to as well.

Best of luck!

Anita

Want to receive these tips by email? Simply subscribe for once-a-week tips and tricks for career success!

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: