I remember teachers always impressing upon students the importance of being able to write clearly and cogently. I was a strong writer, and banging out a quick five paragraph essay posed no problem for me, only minor inconvenience. I knew that not everyone was as adept at writing as I, but I also recognized that other people were far better at math and science than I.
It was not until email became a widely-used tool for business communication that I realized how poor some people’s writing skills are. Although I am now somewhat anesthetized to its prevalence, I must admit that when I read something that is poorly written, I make a snap judgment about the writer, and it is not a positive one.
When you are a job seeker, it is imperative that your written communications are clear, on point, and yes, grammatically and syntactically correct. Here are my least favorite “repeat offenders”—the errors I see with alarming frequency:
Advise/advice. Advise is a verb. Advice is a noun. “May I have your advise” is incorrect. So is, “Could you advice me on how best to proceed.”
Two/to/too. One’s a number, one’s a preposition, and one’s an adverb. Learn the difference, and use them properly.
A women. “Women” is the plural form of “woman.” You did not see “a women” you know at the store. You saw “a woman.”
U, K, IDK, rite. Texting shorthand has no place in business communications. Ever.
Their/they’re/there. Like our friends too/to/two, each of these words has a separate and distinct meaning. They are not interchangeable.
Would/should/could of. The correct usage is would/should/could have. Not of. You need a verb here.
Suppose to. In speech, it can be difficult to hear the “d” at the end of the word, because it flows into the “t,” which has a similar sound. But the correct usage is “supposed to.”
When you are speaking, it is acceptable to lack precision in your grammar and diction, and to use vernacular terms. When you are writing, you should adhere to the style and standards of the language. I’ve spoken with many recruiters who confirmed that their number one turn-off is a resume and/or cover letter that has spelling or grammatical errors. These will get your application immediately tossed into the recycle bin.
Remember, first impressions are strong impressions. Be sure you’re making the right impression, and that anything you send in a professional context is as flawless as possible.