Career Connector

Yes, Your Grammar Matters to Your Career

I loved the recent blog post by a tech CEO who says he won’t hire people who have bad grammar. As they say, you only have one chance to make a first impression, and those impressions are what count when you’re hunting for a job.

When people don’t know you, they will make judgments about you based on what they see. That’s why it’s so important to dress appropriately for an interview, use good hygiene, have a firm handshake and speak well. Employers have more choice than ever before, and when hiring they will choose the most polished, articulate, immaculate, confident candidates they can find. Grammar is just one of the tools in your arsenal, but if you’re sending out resumes and letters with typos or syntax errors, don’t expect to get a good response.

If You’re Unsure, Get Some Help
Not everyone can be a great writer. But if you’re uncertain about your writing and grammar, and even if you feel sure it’s up to par, it’s a good idea to get a friend or colleague to double check. Especially with resumes, it’s always helpful to share with as many people as possible – it will help you refine what you’re saying and provide a window into how others view your credentials.

Take a Writing Class
If you really need help, which I have found that many people do, take a class to improve your skills. There is a lot to be said for feeling confident about your writing, since it’s a skill you will always need, both at work and personally. You can take a business writing class or creative writing—they will both be useful.

Read Vociferously
To be a writer, you must read. And make sure that what you’re reading is of the highest quality—The New York Times, literary-minded magazines and blogs, good literature. By reading regularly you will begin to hone your instincts for the written word, and your writing and grammar will improve automatically.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore this advice. If you’re out there looking for a job and you’re not getting a good response, have a career professional take a look at what you’re sending and make an assessment. It may be a matter of how you’re promoting yourself, it may be typos or grammatical errors—either way, you’ll need to reconsider how you’re reaching out to employers to get better results.



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7 Responses to Yes, Your Grammar Matters to Your Career

  1. justin locke says:

    Well i guess there is no positive reason for bad grammar on a resume, but when I used to hire people I was far more interested in whether or not the applicant had any consciousness of what my clients/ customers needed. A perfect resume has little value to a paying customer. I always advise people to focus on customer need. What does this prospective employer desperately need? Precision and good grammar? Maybe. But it’s always a good bet to put your critical eye, not on yourself or your presentation, but on the needs of the customer, and a potential employer is in fact a potential customer. In my case, applicants who saw me as a customer always got hired ahead of the best dressed self-conscious applicants who were focused on getting a job for themselves..

  2. Barbara E says:

    I whole-heartedly agree with this advice. It is particularly important when one is pursuing a career that involves legal documents and client correspondence. Attention to detail is of paramount importance, far beyond grammar. Errors cost in terms of dollars, time lost and reputation. The practice of reviewing and editing one’s work product should be life-long and reach across all aspects of one’s communications.

  3. Allison says:

    Thank you, Justin. My point is not that you shouldn’t be concerned with other issues like whether an employee is cognizant of client needs. They are not mutually exclusive. I believe that inattention to whether your grammar is perfect on your resume and cover letter underlies other detail issues that will be important, for example, with clients. Bad grammar and mistakes on these important documents create an impression of carelessness, which I think should be taken very seriously.

  4. Allison says:

    Yes, Barbara, and nowhere is this more important than in law! Thanks for your comment.

  5. Sarajane says:

    Hi Allison! Thank you for the article. As an English teacher, I wholeheartedly agree. I only have one clarification/correction I’d make: I think you mean to “read voraciously,” not “vociferously,” as “vociferous” refers to noise, clamor, et cetera.

  6. Allison says:

    Ha ha, you got me, Sarajene! That’s funny. Just shows we could all use a good proof-reader–the downside of blogs 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  7. Sarajane says:

    I’m available for hire 😉

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