If you've ever written a cover letter or resume that claims you have “excelent attention to detail," but you misspelled “excellent,” you can understand the importance of checking your grammar before hitting send on an application. Good grammar helps you present yourself as a smart, capable candidate who can communicate effectively—which is highly attractive to hiring managers.
So if you want to avoid an embarrassing—and potentially costly—grammar blunder, it’s important to conduct a grammar check. Below are four grammar mistakes that continually trip up job seekers and workers alike. Before you send your next email, format your resume or draft a cover letter, be sure to check for these common errors.
1. Eliminate gender-specific pronouns
Gender-specific pronouns can create or reinforce biases in people’s minds. Since you’re likely sending your resume and cover letter to someone you don’t know personally, it’s best to not assume which pronouns they prefer. So stay neutral.
When writing any work-related document, make the subjects of your sentences plural. This will allow you to change the gender-exclusive pronouns (he and she) to their neutral plural forms (they, them or their). If that doesn’t sound natural, revise the sentence to avoid using pronouns altogether.
2. Use apostrophes correctly
Apostrophes serve two purposes in writing: They show possession, and they indicate that a letter has been removed from the original word when creating a contraction.
Opting for the contraction in your writing makes it feel more familiar and informal—which often helps coax your reader into a more relaxed and understanding mood. However, if you use this format, make sure you do it correctly. If you use a contraction, you need an apostrophe.
When it comes to indicating possession, check carefully for each use of its and it’s in your writing. If you’re indicating possession, there is no need for an apostrophe. However, if you are using a shortened form of it is, you need an apostrophe to take the place of the missing letter."
3. Capitalize correctly
Typically, job titles and the companies for which you have worked are capitalized on resumes. But when writing your cover letter, it’s best to only capitalize the names of actual courses, schools and subjects. Do not capitalize when making a general reference to a profession or industry, as it tends to divert the reader’s attention away from your actual message.
4. Avoid sentence fragments
A sentence fragment is a group of words that look like a sentence, but aren’t because they lack an independent clause. While that may sound confusing, they’re actually quite easy to spot! Out of context, sentence fragments make no sense. So they have no place in your professional writing.
To combat fragment sentences, read through each sentence on its own. Does it makes sense standing alone or out of context? Does it still convey a thought? If not, it needs to be merged with another sentence to become complete. This strengthens your writing and the stance you take in it.
Writing well is a skill from which every professional benefits. It can also be what catches the hiring manager's eye and gets you an interview or what impresses a boss and results in a raise or promotion. Best of all, writing well furthers your causes and conveys your ideas, making a real impact on your career and the world around you.
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