We are told that to get a job in these tough economic times, many skills are essential to having a competitive edge: creativity, dedication, excellent grammar … Okay, so that last one seems a bit out of place. Yet the ability to write with grammatical correctness does not just indicate that you can differentiate between “too” and “to” or that you appreciate the nuances of the semicolon. It demonstrates to a potential employer that you are a thoughtful, conscientious, trustworthy applicant who is serious about the job for which you are applying.
How can a potential employer read — literally — so much into something so seemingly insignificant? For one thing, it demonstrates your sincere interest in the job. With many aspects of our lives becoming increasingly reliant on technology, being a grammar wonk in an age where casual and colloquial speech runs rampant seems undervalued. Our culture is one of rushing from activity to activity, attempting to squeeze the most productivity out of each day. This is arguably why abbreviations, tweets, emoticons and text messages are such popular methods of communication: They allow us to express our thoughts and feelings while expounding relatively little time and effort.
Using proper grammar demonstrates to a potential employer that you think the opportunity to apply for a job is important enough to defy the norms of our on-the-go culture; you are willing to slow down and take the time to craft your thoughts carefully. Good grammar is analogous to good manners: It shows that you respect the person you are communicating with enough to put forth more effort than you would if you were just writing a quick text message. By showing that you have dedicated your energies to composing a polished application, you imply to your employer that you are conscientious enough to check over your work and that you possess great attention to detail. Knowing how to write with correct grammar can also put an employer at ease, proving that you can be trusted to represent the organization well.
It is often said that actions speak louder than words, but in the job market today, where an employer’s initial assessment is based on a written application, words can make a huge impression. Good grammar can serve as a temporary stand-in for a firm handshake, spiffy pantsuit or direct eye contact. It’s small, but it shows that you are someone they want to hire.
While you are compiling your impressive resume and scoping out future internships and jobs, don’t neglect our often-overlooked friend, grammar. Even in this age of auto-correct and apps, it is incredibly important, to — I mean, too.
Email Andrea Aron-Schiavone at firstname.lastname@example.org.