Spelling, Grammar, And the Importance of Getting It Right When Job Hunting

Samantha Ruff
May 23, 2020 ·
6 min read
How-to

Everyone can make a spelling mistake. Everyone can make a grammatical mistake. But if there is ever a time you should do your best to avoid such mistakes, it is when you are trying to make a good impression. And when searching for a job, it’s all about making a good impression.

Indeed, there are several important reasons why good spelling and grammar is a must on resumes, job application forms, cover letters and any correspondence you share with the hiring company in advance to you potentially getting the job. And of course, good spelling and grammar shouldn’t stop there either.

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However, here are some of the most important reasons why correct spelling and grammar is essential when job hunting in particular:

First impressions count

Whether we like it or not, we all know that first impressions do leave a legacy. So, if your first contact with a hiring company includes basic spelling and grammatical mistakes, for whatever reason, then it is not going to reflect well on you, especially in relation to other candidates who are applying for the job and have been able to make contact without any mistakes.

Finding a job is a competitive business, so do not put yourself at an immediate disadvantage in respect to the competition.

The Horn Effect

The Horn Effect is a psychological bias which occurs when someone displays a single negative trait. That negative trait then convinces others of negativity in other, non-unrelated areas. 

So, for example, any grammatical and spelling mistakes may lead someone to believe that you display negative characteristics in your design, your ideas, or whatever other qualities you must display in order to do the job you are applying for. It may be unfair (after all, why should poor spelling reflect on your physical abilities, let’s say), but the fact is, that is the kind of bias that has been scientifically proven to take place.

Your attitude and approach will be questioned

Again, this may be unfair, but many people will associate spelling and grammar mistakes with an attitude that is slightly careless. Certainly, your accuracy and thoroughness can be questioned, because the fact is you did not implement a system in which you checked for mistakes. Once again, that doesn’t reflect well.

Most jobs involve some form of written communication

Writing may be only the tiniest element of the job, but most jobs will require you to write something, at least on occasion. The truth is, your spelling and grammar mistakes in your resume, cover letter or whatever it may be, can lead the recruiter to believe that written communication will be an area of the job that you are not particularly well-suited.

So, what should you do?

Of course, not everyone is born equal, and if you are a non-native speaker of English, let’s say, then of course communicating without mistakes is a huge challenge. In this way, if you are using a language that is not your mother tongue when applying for a job, you are immediately at a disadvantage, even if language ability has no relationship with the requirements of the job. 

But even if it is unfair, the negative impression is still made. And the fact is, there are many processes and tools out there to help in this situation. Indeed, software and applications have been developed to help everyone produce error-free writing, no matter their ability.

Here are some of the steps you should follow:

Proofread your own communication before you send it

Whether it is an online job application, a resume sent by email, or even a physical, posted cover letter, you should proofread your written words before you hit ‘send’ or pop it in the mailbox. You should re-read your communication several times in fact. It’s incredible how many people don’t do this, and how many mistakes you can self-correct just by taking the time to do it.

Of course, if English is not your first language, you may think this will not help you, but fear not, for there are other important steps to take.

Get someone else to proofread it for you

Even if your English is normally pretty-much perfect, mistakes are possible, especially when you are concentrating so hard on the content of something.

A fresh pair of eyes is truly valuable, so get someone else to have a read-through before you send anything. Of course, if English is not your first language, you can engage someone with a mastery of English to re-read your writing for you. That’s a sensible step to take, and also convinces the hiring company of your commitment to producing error-free work, even if you did need to engage another person’s help to assist you. You were conscientious, which is a positive quality.

Use tools

From spell-checking software to AI-powered writing assistants such as Linguix, use the tools available to help you avoid making these types of costly mistakes in your writing.

Linguix, for example, can be downloaded as a Chrome, Firefox or Edge extension, and will then correct your text on any webpage you write it: directly in an online job application, for example.

Furthermore, copy and paste your text into the writing assistant, and Linguix’s catalogue of corrective analysis will identify spelling, grammatical, punctuation and stylistic mistakes that can affect anyone’s writing. 

With help like that at hand, error-free writing can be a reality, no matter what your English ability.