Grammar Matters: Here’s What to Look for on Your Resume and Cover Letter

writing resume and cover letter

In a time when the bulk of your job search is conducted digitally, you need your resume and cover letter to be professional and memorable. Standing out in a message inbox or stack of printed papers can be a lot more difficult. Grammar is the new body language. First impressions are either on paper or on a screen. For National Grammar Day, we’re sharing tools and tricks you can use in your resume and cover letter to help you stand out and land your next job.

Why Grammar Matters

Bibliophiles may be excited to celebrate National Grammar Day, but even if words aren’t your passion, you should make sure to practice proper grammar every day. Grammar isn’t just writing or speaking “good.” You shouldn’t try to impress hiring managers by using big words and long sentences. Instead, you should do your best to speak or write in a way that comes naturally. Then, when you know what you want to say, you can review the grammar.

When you’re reviewing what you write, especially for your resume and cover letter, there are a few things you should look at. Word order and word structure work hand-in-hand. Your sentences should be well balanced, with clear subjects and actions. 

Making a mistake or two on your resume and cover letter doesn’t immediately take you out of the running for a job. But, you should make sure you review your application materials to make sure you catch as many common mistakes as possible.

3 Common Mistakes to Look for on Your Resume and Cover Letter

1. Using (or Not Using) an Apostrophe

The apostrophe is most commonly used for contractions and possessives. 

In contractions, the apostrophe notes that two words are combined. For example, the contraction “I’d” is the contraction for “I would.”

The apostrophe is also used to show possession. For example, the job’s requirements is another way to say “the requirements of the job.”

Many people make the mistake of adding an apostrophe when making a list. 

Incorrect: At my grocery job, I stocked apple’s, orange’s and banana’s.
Correct: At my grocery job, I stocked apples, oranges and bananas.

2. Commonly Confused Words

You might know which word you mean when you say it outloud, but you need to make sure you use the proper word when writing. Using the wrong word on your resume and cover letter can be detrimental to your job search.

– They’re – Contraction of “They are”
– There – Referencing a place
– Their – Something owned by a group

– Your – Something you own
– You’re – Contraction of “You are”

– Its – Possessive
– It’s – Contraction of “It Is”

3. Run-On (or Long) Sentences

Not every long sentence is a run on sentence. You should, however, keep an eye out for both run-on sentences and long sentences.

A run-on sentence is when you have two sentences that are squeezed together into one.

Incorrect: I worked at the event and enjoyed the duties I did and hope I can do something like it again in the future.
Correct: I worked at the event and enjoyed the duties I did. I hope I can do something like it again in the future.

A long sentence is exactly what it sounds like. Punctuation, like commas and periods, help readers take a breath while reading. If you have a long sentence, consider breaking it up into shorter sentences or use bullets to convey the points. This is especially key when writing your resume.

Make Sure Your Resume and Cover Letter Are All Set

Being mindful of using grammar properly isn’t just something to impress a hiring manager. You should use proper grammar to ensure you’re sharing your words and thoughts with others in a clear way. If you’re struggling, consider using a tool like Grammarly to help yourself out. Don’t let grammar detract from your resume and cover letter. Take steps to ensure everything has good grammar so a hiring manager can focus on what you did and not how you describe it.

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