Five Common Grammatical Errors Found in Resumes

In today’s world of technology, social media, and instantaneous transmission of text from one party to another, your resume is almost always “the first impression” when you are trying to land a new job.  Common grammatical errors might be accepted and ignored in texting and short email communications, but can be the justification for an immediate rejection of an otherwise great candidate for a great opportunity with a great company.  You should assume that your resume will be reviewed by at least one person who knows 6955354_f248proper English grammar.

As a 30 year practitioner in the industry of human capital, I can share with you five of the most common, and most unfortunately missed by spell checker, grammatical errors.

1) Your instead of You’re

Miss Mathews, my wonderful English teacher of the eighth and ninth grades (yes, she had our class twice and regretted the accelerated curriculum she gave us in eighth grade, because she had to make up a new one just for us to keep us entertained in the ninth) pounded this fact into our mushy brains.  “Your” is possessive, and “you’re” is the contraction of “you are”.  You’re going to the movie, and I will buy your popcorn.  When I see “your” or “you’re” misused in someone’s resume, I immediately move that person from an A+ to an A-.

2) Its and It’s

Yes, it really does make a difference.  Once again, we come face-to-face with that dreaded contraction.  “Its” is possessive, and “it’s” is the contraction for “it is”.  The cat knows its ball from the others, and knows it’s for fun.  Look for this one.  Another step from A+ to A-.

3) You rather than Your

Similar to number 1, but it’s quite different actually.  This one is usually caused by typing too fast, and the spell checker is not going to catch it.  You don’t use a spell checker because you don’t like the wavy red lines?  Shame on you.  Most importantly, this common mistake says you don’t check your work.  A+ to B.

4) Frequent use of pronouns that cause confusion to the reader

Overuse of he, she, it, they, you and his and hers can confuse your reader.  Use proper nouns to improve clarity.  “Ron told her that I should take the reports to him and make sure he edits them thoroughly.”  What?  Perhaps if this author had said, “Ron told Kim that I should take the reports to Mike and make sure Mike edits them thoroughly.”, we would have really understood what was meant without any confusion.  Perhaps just a move from A+ to A, but still makes one question whether clear written communication might be difficult for this person.

5) The sentence fragment

This is my biggest pet peeve.  Does this error come from sloppy proof reading (A+ to B), or does it come from a lack of knowledge of proper grammar (A+ to C)?  So, as we begin this topic.  Fear that if I start giving examples.  See, I can go on and on.  Think I am making this up?  Just start paying attention to what you read in other’s resumes.  You will be amazed.

Finally, remember that everyone has an opinion on what makes a great resume, and that opinions are worth what you pay for them.  In her monograph for Ezine, “Getting Opinions About Your Resume:  Why it’s a Bad Idea”1, Rachel Landry, a talented writing coach, pens, “At the end of the day, your resume should accurately represent you. If it is overly influenced by someone else, the employer may pick up on discrepancies during an interview. The voice you project in person has to match the voice you present on paper.”  I urge you to remember that the grammar and language you use in your resume also portrays you.  Will it show that you are someone who cares about what they say and write, and knows the proper way to say or write it?

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