Careers Advice

Unforgivable Grammar Crimes

Job hunting is a tricky business because you can’t predict what one person is going to love or indeed hate. However, everyone respects a well-written, error-free CV.

Most potential employers spend a few seconds scanning each of the many CVs they receive for a job opening and don’t read any of them in detail. This might seem like an excuse to be careless with your grammar and spelling, but the opposite is true. You won’t get an interview if it’s riddled with mistakes or grammar errors. And to some employers, mistakes jump out from the page even during a quick scan.

Crime 1: Your vs. You’re

Probably the most heinous crime of them all and most annoyingly the one spellcheckers can often miss. The clue is in the apostrophe. If you use an apostrophe, it’s a contraction of the words you are. On the other hand, your means belonging or relating to you.

Incorrect:
I will call you on Friday if your in the office.
Incorrect:
Please find attached my CV in relation to you’re job advert.
Correct:
Please get in touch with me at your earliest convenience.
Correct:
Tonight, you’re waiting tables six to eleven.

Crime 2: Apostrophe terror

The apostrophe is one of the most widely misused punctuation marks in the English language. Get it wrong and you could:

1. Change the meaning of what you are trying to say.

2. Look like a numpty.

The two most common misuses of the apostrophe are Its vs. It’s and including an apostrophe in a plural.

Its vs. It’s:

It’s quite easy to get this wrong, but a handy little trick is to replace its with his (or hers) and see if the text still makes sense.

Its is simply a genderless version of his and hers. If the sentence still makes sense, you’ve got the right one. Likewise, with it’s – just replace it with it is to test its coherence.

Incorrect:
Its easy to get a job when you have the right CV.
Incorrect:
A qualification won’t guarantee you a job on it’s own.
Correct:
With so many job ads, it’s not surprising that you need a great CV.
Correct:
A hospitality CV should impress employers as much as its owner would.

Crime 3: Apostrophes and plurals:

This is right up there with you’re and your. You should never use an apostrophe before the S in a plural, even when pluralising abbreviations like DVD or CD.

Incorrect:
I think there may be a few typo’s on my CV.
Incorrect:
I have different CV’s for different job applications.
Correct:
There’s no reason why you should have to include photos with CVs.

Crime 4: Their, They’re and There

A triple threat. These homophones (words that sound the same but are spelled differently) can really make you look daft! Learn the differences and then check them, then check again.

  • They’re is a contraction of they are.
  • Their is possessive, meaning belonging to.
  • There is a location (one way to remember it is that the word here is in the word and that’s a place).
Incorrect:
Their are more possible mistakes with these three words than we can list here! Correct: Where are their CVs?
Correct:
They’re over there.

Crime 5: Accept vs. Except

You should accept that good grammar and spelling are needed, except if you don’t want that job.

Crime 6: Could’a, should’a, would’a

A mistake people often make is writing words as they sound. It’s easy to get convinced that ‘have’ should be spelled ‘of’, since we say it say so quickly. It should never appear in your writing.

Incorrect: I would of got that job interview if I hadn’t made all those spelling mistakes on my CV. Correct: Yes, you would have.

Crime 7: Swallowing a Thesaurus

If you use a word you’re not familiar with, you won’t be sure how to use it properly in a sentence – which can actually make you sound less intelligent (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s0LqZMsfTQ) and can make your sentences sound plain weird. Just be honest with your CV writing.

CRIME 8: SHOUTY CAPITALS

BE CAREFUL HOW YOU USE THEM. Capital letters are hard to read so only use them where they belong; at the start of a sentence or at the start of a proper noun. DO YOU UNDERSTAND? And check through carefully to avoid missing them where they should be capital letters, and full stops are the bare bones basics of writing, NO EXCUSES!

Once again, the key here will be checking, checking and checking again. Try to find someone to double check your CV before you send it as it is really tricky to spot your own errors when you have been so involved in the writing. If that is not a possibility try leaving it overnight and reading it over again the next morning. You will be amazed what you will find in the cold light of day!