Career Concepts


Every company wants to employ people who have an eye for detail, and nothing says “I do not have an eye for detail” like horrible grammar on job application materials.

Good grammar on a resume and cover letter also shows you are an intelligent, capable applicant who can communicate effectively. Therefore, if you would like steer clear of costly grammatical errors, it’s critical to perform a thorough grammar check of all job application materials before submitting them.

Consider the following grammar errors that regularly trip up people looking for work. These errors often slip under the radar of word processing programs, on which you should avoid being totally dependent.

Misplaced apostrophes

Apostrophes provide two functions: They indicate either possession or the removal of a letter to from a contraction. When reviewing the use of an apostrophe, make sure you are using it for one of these two purposes.

If your intention is to create a contraction, double-check yourself by sounding out the word or words in their non-contracted form. For instance, “you’re” should be sounded out as “you are.” If the sentence still makes sense, you’re using the apostrophe correctly.

A word on contractions in a job application: Using them makes your writing feel informal, which can be seen as a lack of seriousness.

With regards to indicating possession, the most common pitfall is “it’s” versus “it’s.” If you want to say “it” has possession, do not use an apostrophe (“its”). On the other hand, the contraction for “it is” needs an apostrophe to represent the missing letter “i” (“it’s”).

Sentence fragments

Generally speaking, a sentence should have a thing (a subject) that does something (a verb). For instance, in the sentence “Joe is fast” – “Joe” is the subject and “is” is the verb. The result of using a subject and a verb is a complete idea.

A sentence fragment may look and sound like a sentence, but it isn’t a complete idea. For example, “the long and winding road” or “another brick in the wall” may sound like sentences, but there is no verb in either one; only a subject. Did the road do something? Is something being done to the brick or to the wall?

When reviewing your application materials, make sure each sentence you wrote represents a complete idea.

Recklessly using gender pronouns

Being careless with gender pronouns isn’t an error per se but being careless in a job application can get you into hot water with a hiring manager. For instance, referring to someone with the first name Ashley as “Ms.” is careless considering the fact that Ashley is a popular male name, particularly in the United Kingdom.

Try to use “they” whenever possible instead of using “he” or “she.” Avoid using courtesy titles unless you are 100 percent positive about the receiver’s gender.

At Career Concepts, we work with job seekers to help them avoid making careless mistakes in their job application efforts. If you are currently looking for job-seeking assistance, please contact us today.


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