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For a Good Job, Learn How to Spell

Hannah P. Morgan

Do people pay attention to spelling and grammar today? More than you may think! Even busy résumé reviewers who barely have enough time to read your full cover letter and résumé are likely to notice spelling errors.

Your email, cover letter, application and résumé are often the first impression you make. Spelling and grammatical errors suggest you don't care enough about the job to double check your work, or worse, that you lack attention to detail.

Commonly Misspelled Words

Some misspelled words are not necessarily caught by spell check because the misspelling is also a legitimate word. Double check your work for these common and avoidable misspellings.

Manager (not manger)

Assess (not asses)

Led (not lead)

Maintenance (not maintenence)

License (not lisence)

Liaison (not liason)

Lose (not loose)

Be sure to double check your online profiles for misspellings and typos. And when sending correspondence, do not spell the company or contact name incorrectly. That's a sure way to get your information tossed into the recycle bin.

Common Grammar Mistakes

Grammar is equally important. In fact, Kyle Wiens writes in a Harvard Business Review blog post: "Applicants who don't think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren't important."

Take your time and review your work for these commonly confused words.

Your vs. You're

"Your" shows possession, such as "your salary requirements." "You're" is a contraction of "you are," as in "you're excited to learn more about the position."

Than vs. Then

"Than" is used to compare different things. For example, "The results of the campaign were five times greater than previous marketing initiatives." The word "then" has several different meanings such as "at a point in time." Used correctly, it might look like this: "The project continued, then, due to changes in client requirements, ended immediately."

They're vs. Their vs. There

"They're" is a contraction of "they are," "their" indicates possession and "there" specifies a location. Here are examples for how to use each properly:

"They're ready to embark on a new adventure."

"Their trip was canceled due to poor weather."

"When they arrived in New York, they were the only ones there."

It's vs. Its

"It's" is a contraction for the two words "it is." When you use "its" you show possession of an inanimate object or gender neutral noun:

"It's unusual to see such an amazing opportunity."

"The company lost its key customer and my job was eliminated."

Commonly Mispronounced Words

So you say you have strong communication skills, but are you mispronouncing any of these words? Prove you are a skilled communicator. Even if your written materials are flawless, poor verbal communication is a big turn off.

Note the "r"

February and library each have an "r" after the "b" and are pronounced Feb-roo-err-ee (not Febuary) and li-brer-ee (not libary)

Jewelry is pronounced joo - wel - ree not joo -ler -ee.


Incorrect pronunciation: or - ee - en - tated
Correct pronunciation: or - ee - ented


Incorrect: su - po - sa - blee

Correct: su - po - sid - lee

Justin Brown identifies these commonly heard mistakes in a post for Primer Magazine:

For all intents and purposes

Incorrect pronunciation: for all intensive purposes

Correct pronunciation: for all intents and purposes


Incorrect pronunciation: up - most

Correct pronunciation: utt - most


Incorrect pronunciation: off - ten

Correct pronunciation: off - en


Incorrect pronunciation: nuke - you - lerr

Correct pronunciation: new - clee - err

Proofreading Tips

It is difficult to proofread your own work. The best solution is to have someone else review it for you, however, this isn't always possible. Here are some tips from the Grammar Girl website to help you when editing your own work:

Give yourself some time. Don't edit your work immediately. You want to review it through a fresh set of eyes.

Read your work backwards. Begin reading your last sentence and move forward toward the beginning of the document. This should help prevent your brain from skipping words it thinks are there.

Read your work out loud. When you read your work out loud, you are more likely to read each word and this can help catch missing words and even punctuation.

Proofread a printed version of your work. People often find errors on the printed copy that they overlooked on the computer screen. When you change the way something looks and where you are physically located, it often provides a fresh perspective.

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.

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