top of page
  • Writer's pictureEdwin and George

Spellign .punctuation and Grammer

How not to get a new job (guaranteed)

EGM On A Mission: Let’s Build Better Companies

(All spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors in this blog are intentional – I think).

(Warning – this blog is likely to descend into a bit of a rant).

Some stats according to the website ‘undercover recruiter’

  • First applications are received 200 seconds after a job is posted

  • Average time spent looking at a cv is 5-7 seconds

  • An average of 250 cvs are received for each job position

  • 68% of employers will find you on Facebook

  • 17% chance that your cover letter will be read. (1)

How to fall at the first hurdle when a company hiring manager looks at your cv (from the same website)

a) One spelling or grammar mistake and your cv will be chucked in the bin

b) Repeated punctuation errors and your cv will be chucked in the bin

c) One in three employers reject candidates based on something they found about them online

d) 88% job rejection rate if you have a photo of yourself on your cv

e) 76% of cvs are ignored if your email address is unprofessional

f) Those cvs with colored or patterned backgrounds are twice as likely as plain ones to be rejected (it might be a struggle to load to them to application processing/tracking systems)

Ok, we can’t really help with items “c” to “f” – they’re down to you.

But what about “a” and “b”?

Spelling and grammar

Spelling and grammar are indicators of two skills that are essential to any job:

Attention to detail and communication. They tell hiring managers if you’re diligent in your work and can communicate clearly — both verbally and via email — with co-workers, supervisors and clients. (2)

‘An analysis of 20,000 U.K. cvs in 2019 by jobs site Adzuna found more than 90% of them had spelling or grammar mistakes.

The same survey found that men tended to make more mistakes than women - with 8% of female job hunters sending in a flawless cv compared to just 6% of men.

It was common to see typos turning the word ‘and’ into ‘add,’ which a spell-check did not pick up on. ‘Manager’ becoming ‘manger’ was another typical typo that wasn’t spotted. Many job applications had ‘simple slip-up’ errors.’ (3)

  • But there’s probably no excuse for getting the name of the hiring manager wrong - or the name of the company you’re applying to or one you’ve worked for in the past.

  • There’s no excuse for saying you deal with ‘customer compliants’ if you work in customer services.

  • Anyone know how to spell ‘ocassional?’

  • ‘Transformational chagne’ isn’t the same as ‘transformational change.’

And there are common errors in the choice of words:

  • Effect or affect?

  • Insure or ensure or assure?

  • Elicit or illicit?

  • Perspective or prospective?

  • Complementary or complimentary?

  • I might be worried if my four-year-old mixed up the words ‘were’ and ‘where.’

This is basic stuff – we know – but we want our candidates to have the best possible chance of getting the role.

A simple spellcheck, a check by Microsoft Editor or review by a friend or colleague are worthwhile investments.


And, of course, the use of correct punctuation can be a bit of a nightmare for us all.

Take the poor apostrophe, which has always been trouble.

For example, having spent some of my teenage years in the English town of Gerrards Cross, I regularly stood on the station platform wondering where the apostrophe had gone (and the train).

Sadly, the answer became apparent in 2001 when a group called Hear’Say won the UK reality TV show ‘Popstars.’

(You probably remember their chart record breaking single, ‘Pure and Simple.’ I was just whistling it this morning on the way to work.)

Hear’Say. Ouch.

Now I’m not about to start a campaign to highlight the trials and tribulations of the poor defenseless apostrophe. But, for goodness sake, what was the little fellow doing in the middle of Hear’Say - and how did he get there from Gerrards Cross?

Imagine - posters going up on the sides of red London buses and next to busy roads advertising the band and you’re standing there, right in the middle of everything, redundant and serving no practical purpose whatsoever. It was mindless cruelty of the highest order to an innocent piece of punctuation.

Fortunately, the whole sorry saga was ended in 2002 when Johnny, Kym, Danny and the rest of this talented ensemble called it a day.

And, of course, there’s more.

Bad punctuation can be very dangerous - as evidenced by this little story:

A panda walks into a café in Pirie Street.

He eats a cheese sandwich, pulls out a gun and fires two shots in the air. He heads for the exit.

The waiter is horrified and screams. ‘Why did you do that?’

The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

‘I’m a panda,’ he says, at the door. ‘Look it up.’

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds the explanation.

‘Panda – a black and white bear-like mammal, native to China.

Eats, shoots and leaves.’ (4)

Anyway, you get the point. Enough of my rant.

Correct punctuation is important.

Clearly the success of a job application, may depend on it.

Ok so we’ve gone over the top in making our case, but:

In such an uncertain and competitive job market, there’s never been a more important time to polish your cv (even if you aren’t on the job hunt right now).

Please don’t fall foul of these basic errors – which are guaranteed not to get you that dream job.

And please donate 5 dollars to my ‘be kind to the apostrophe’ campaign.

  1. How long do recruiters spend reading your cv? Jörgen Sundberg,

  2. Don’t make these 5 biggest resume mistakes, say Harvard career experts—and examples of what to do instead, CNBC, 6 May 2020

  3. The most common spelling mistakes made on resumes — and how to avoid them, CNBC, 16 April 2021

  4. The story of Hear’say and the panda from, Eats, shoots and leaves, the zero-tolerance approach to punctuation, Lynne Truss

481 views0 comments


bottom of page