How NOT to Get a Job Interview: Poor Grammar in your Résumé

If you are looking for or will be looking for a job at some point in your life — that includes almost everyone reading this, right? — please consider what a business owner in the Detroit area found when he posted two open positions.

The first was for a part-time customer service position, and the second was for a full-time business-development manager.

Of the hundreds of résumés submitted through Indeed and LinkedIn, about 10 for each position qualified as “maybe,” and three were interviewed for each.

He noted that the majority of applicants had a college degree, yet their résumés were “… dashed off, many with spelling and grammatical errors. Their writing was unclear.”

“First impressions count with employers,” he writes. (Having studied nonverbal communication and body language, may I add that first impressions, whether in writing or in person, count in just about everything in life.)

He also points out, “Many times, your résumé is just the first step, but it is the most important step in being considered for an interview.”

Don’t let résumé mistakes knock you out of the competition.

How to Write a Résumé That Stands Out (Backed by Science)

These research-backed resume tips — 34 in all — encourage buzzwords, concrete numbers, team-centered language, evidence of positive social media, and personalizing your résumé for the position. The tips discourage, among other things, typos and grammatical errors (No. 4 of 34):

According to a survey, over 58% of hiring managers said that they would automatically discard a résumé if it contained typos or grammatical errors. The reason should be obvious: Sending a résumé rife with errors signifies that you don’t care about the position very much and that you lack attention to detail and organizational skills.

11 Terrible Resume Mistakes That Are Keeping You From Getting Hired

  1. Spelling Errors
    Nothing shows inattention to detail like glaring spelling errors. I have had people spell their names up to three different ways on resumes, misspell the company name in cover letters, misspell job titles, etc. Whether you are applying to a writing job — or any job, for that matter — a simple error in spelling can spell doom.
  1. Bad grammar
    I work in the tech sector, where a lot of words have odd capitalizations. I’ve noticed in the last few years that candidates are just randomly capitalizing words in the middle of sentences for no reason whatsoever.

The Seven Deadly (Résumé) Sins: Top Résumé Mistakes to Avoid

Résumé mistake #1: Being careless
A spelling faux pas or grammatical error can call into question your seriousness and attention to detail. Avoid blunders by establishing a step-by-step proofreading system. In addition to running your computer’s spellcheck function, take the time to read your resume several times aloud on screen and on paper. Ask friends or family members for editing suggestions. The following job applicant’s miscalculation indicated to employers that they wouldn’t be able to “count” on him if hired:

“HOBBIES: My three biggest hobbies are cars, racquetball, golf, and reading.”

The 10 worst resume mistakes to avoid

  1. Typos and grammatical errors
    Probably the most obvious of all résumé tips: It needs to be grammatically perfect. If it isn’t, employers will read between the lines and draw not-so-flattering conclusions about you, like, “This person can’t write,” or, “This person obviously doesn’t care.”


Top 10 Résumé Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Misspellings and grammatical errors are résumé killers. Check spelling and then proofread by placing a finger on each word. Catching your own errors is hard. Try printing your résumé, changing the font, or copying it into a blank email. These strategies help you see your words with fresh eyes, which can help with catching errors. Reading it out loud is another option for catching mistakes. Or ask a career coach, friend, or family member to review it for errors.

When it comes to résumés, grammar matters.
If you want the job, you can’t afford to risk making errors in grammar that create a negative first impression and eliminate you from consideration.

Editing your own writing is hard, even for seasoned authors. Use care to follow standard grammar usage in preparing your résumé, and have trusted friends and family members review it.

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)