Beware of the Grammar Police – they may be reading your job application!

Grammar PoliceI have a confession to make. I am married to a member of the grammar police and I think it’s beginning to change my life!!!!

I think we have all fallen foul of the grammar police from time to time. I blame Bill Gates and Microsoft for constantly incorrectly, correcting my spelling and grammar, even when I haven’t asked!

These are the people who (or is it whom?) start to turn a shade of purple when they read an internet article and see “to” when it should be “too”. They mutter expletives under their breath when they hear the chat show host use “of” when it should be “have”. When my wife realises someone has confused “there”, “their”, or “they’re”, I just run for cover as I think her head may actually explode!

As a recruiter, I notice this extreme behaviour starting to rub off on me. My hackles rise as soon as I read a resume with an incorrect “your” or “you’re”. I begin to question the applicant’s sanity when they use “then” when they mean “than”. I aggressively press the reject button if I see “advice” when they mean “advise”!

So why is grammar important and how will this affect (or is it effect?) your chances of getting a job? Well, there are many reasons, not least, being able to make a good first impression when applying. When chatting with your friends or communicating by sms, Messenger or maybe email, some mistakes, abbreviations and casualness are commonly acceptable (although the grammar police may still have a problem!).

Writing for business is different by both design and practice (or is it practise?) far more formal and so needs to be correct. On your resume and job application you are presenting your professional credentials, so what do errors and mistakes say to the reader? It can certainly be perceived as ignorance, a sign of a poor education, or a lack of attention to details – something regularly considered vital to employers, regardless of the position or job task. So, the grammar police will no doubt, immediately reject your application for one or more indiscretions.

The attitude of my wife in these matters is quite understandable and excusable, for she has the thankless task to indoctrinate young children with the language and communication skills they need to learn on their life journey.

For me, save for some of the more common errors, I am a little more accepting. “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone” and all that… Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound quite right either…

Language and writing are in a state of constant change so what was considered inconceivable even 30 – 40 years ago is now common practice. A quick read of any Shakespeare play should illustrate this well. No doubt the language will continue to evolve in the next 30 years, and this change will be accelerated by the forces of globalisation and social media.

So, when applying for your next job, be sure to take a second look at the resume you last reviewed 2 years ago. Ensure your language style is appropriate, and you have eliminated all the simple common mistakes. Take the time to review the language and spelling, and better still have someone else re-read the documents as you never know, a member of the grammar police may be the next person to read it!!!!

That said, I think I will publish this before my resident grammar police officer gets a look at it or I could be in a rewriting loop for the next week!!!

See the following links for your further education and enjoyment:

Grammar Nazi

14 Signs you are a Grammar Nazi
14 Signs You Are A Grammar Nazi

Why good grammar is important in business

Common Grammatical Errors

Resume clichés – some of our favourites

About the Author

rsz_tim_johns_cc1Tim Johns is a former Hotelier and Managing Partner with Elite Search – a leading hospitality recruitment firm. For more information about Tim and Elite Search visit and The Elite Hotelier

One comment

  1. […] Beware of the grammar police – they may be reading your job application! […]


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