Sometimes one little misstep can cost you a lot. Consider the case of a small, common grammatical mistake that you may have made in your covering letter. That single tiny slip-up could take you out of the running for a job that might have been perfect for you.
Many hiring managers report they’re fed up with sloppiness, and the second they spot a grammatical error in a candidate’s application for a job at any level, they hit the delete button.
Harsh, but true.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, managers report they “are fighting an epidemic of grammar gaffes in the workplace.”
The question you may want to ask is, ‘What’s the big deal if you confuse their with there?’ But don’t — the question alone makes managers hit the roof.
Those surveyed say grammatical mistakes create bad impressions with clients, ruin marketing materials, and generally make everyone in the company look – to be blunt – dumb. That’s why no one wants to hire someone who makes mistakes in their own personal marketing materials.
A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management shows 45% of 430 companies are investing in training programs to improve employees’ grammar, because they just can’t stand the errors anymore.
One marketing company in the US is so frustrated that it imposes a 25-cent fine on new hires every time they use “is” for “are” in speech or in print.
So whether you are looking for full-time work, a contract position or a temporary placement, you need to make sure you don’t make these top four most common grammatical mistakes. The Bagg Group offers this tip sheet to help you.
1. It’s versus its:
- It’s is a contraction of it is or it has. Here’s a trick the recruiting experts at The Bagg Group share with candidates. Say your sentence out loud using it is or it has instead of it’s. If the sentence still makes sense, you know you’re using the right spelling.
- Its is a possessive pronoun, as in the dog chased its tail. When unsure, use the process of elimination to check. Repeat the sentence, using it is in place of its and you’ll see that it won’t work. For example, saying “the dog chased it is tail” makes no sense and so you know not to use it’s.
2. Your versus you’re:
- Your is a possessive pronoun– as in your resume is terrific and your ideas are the best. Other possessive pronouns are my, his, her, our, their.
- You’re is a contraction of you are. Again, say your sentence out loud, using you are for you’re and you will instantly know if you’re (you are) using the right spelling.
3. There versus their versus they’re:
This one trips almost everyone up, on occasion.
- There often refers to either a place, real or abstract. If you can replace there with here and the sentence makes sense, you’re using the right spelling. For example, let’s eat there (let’s eat here).
- There can also be a pronoun, used to introduce a sentence or a thought, as in, there is no need to worry.
- Their means belonging to them, as in it is their decision to hire you or not. To check that you have the correct spelling, try reading out your sentence using our instead of their and see if the sentence still works. If it does, you have the right their.
- They’re is a contraction of they are. Again, read your sentence and replace they’re with they are to make sure you have the correct version.
4. To versus too
To is one of the most used words in the English language. Writing to instead of too is a natural typo. Still, university professors report they come across this misspelling more often than would be expected for a typo.
- To be on the safe side, remember that too means also, as in I too am applying for the position.
- Too is also used to mean “to an excessive degree,” as in, you are too finicky, or I’m really too tired to proofread.
At The Bagg Group, we stress to all candidates that time spent proofreading your resume, emails, and other materials is time very well spent. Don’t count on spellcheck because it only catches words that are badly spelled. It won’t always catch a “their” that should be “they’re”.
When you get it right, you will begin to notice how many times other people get it wrong. You may find that if you to start collecting 25 cents per mistake, they’re will be lots of quarters in you’re piggybank soon. (We just gave you 75-cents right their…oops, make that a dollar.)