There is no correlation between good spelling and grammar and job performance. Regardless, rejecting job applications with spelling and grammar errors is common practice.
In fact, in a ResumeLab investigation, 76% of human resource professionals surveyed said they would automatically reject a cover letter if it had typos or spelling mistakes. This is the case, for example, at Google.
So, while shortlisting based on spelling and grammar is an outdated practice, it is definitely still occurring. Given this, overlooking spelling and grammar errors in your cover letter is a critical mistake.
Why Spelling and Grammar Matter in Your Cover Letter
Spelling and grammar mistakes create a negative perception of your intelligence and writing abilities. The more mistakes, the more negative the perception. In fact, according to research, the presence of spelling errors can have the same detrimental impact on your chances of being shortlisted as a lack of professional experience.
Proofreading Your Cover Letter
Proofreading is the most important step in avoiding spelling and grammar mistakes. Quality proofreading with help to catch and correct errors that may have been missed during the initial writing process.
Here are some quick tips on how to proofread effectively. For more, see: 15 Tips for Proofreading your Resume
Take a break: Step away from the document for a little while and come back with a fresh perspective. This will allow you to approach the text with a critical eye and catch errors that you may have missed before.
Read aloud: Reading your cover letter out loud can help you identify awkward phrasing, grammatical errors, and spelling mistakes that may have slipped by you before.
Print it out: Sometimes it’s easier to spot errors on paper rather than on a screen. Printing out your cover letter can help you catch mistakes that you might not have noticed otherwise.
Get a second opinion: Asking someone else to proofread your work can be helpful, as they can provide a fresh set of eyes.
By taking the time to proofread your work carefully and thoroughly, you can ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and error-free.
To help you with your proofreading, common cover letter spelling and grammar mistakes are provided below
Common Cover Letter Spelling Mistakes
- Address (misspelled as adress)
- Business (misspelled as buisness)
- Colleague (misspelled as collegue)
- Definitely (misspelled as definately or definatly)
- Experience (misspelled as experiance)
- Graduate (misspelled as gradute)
- Necessary (misspelled as neccessary)
- Opportunity (misspelled as oppurtunity)
- Personnel (misspelled as personel)
- Successful (misspelled as sucessful)
- Thank you (misspelled as thankyou)
- Work experience (misspelled as work experiance)
- Responsibilities (misspelled as responsibilies)
- Technical (misspelled as tecnical)
Common Cover Letter Homophones
A homophone is a word that sounds the same as another word but has a different spelling and meaning. For example, “to,” “too,” and “two”. Another example is “there,” “their,” and “they’re.”
Homophones can be accidentally used in place of the intended word, leading to spelling and grammar errors. It’s important to pay close attention to the spelling and meaning of each homophone to ensure that the correct word is being used in the proper context.
Here are some homophones that appear frequently in cover letters:
- Manager, manger
- Principle, principal
- Stationary, stationery
- Compliment, complement
- Cite, sight, site
- Affect, effect
- Passed, past
- Counsel, council
- Than, then
- Advise, advice
- Lead, led
- Peak, peek, pique
- Its, it’s
- Whose, who’s
- Bare, bear
- Capital, capitol
- Quiet, quite
Common Cover Letter Grammar Mistakes
Here are some common grammar mistakes that can occur in cover letters:
A dangling modifier occurs when a modifying phrase or clause is placed in the wrong part of a sentence.
Excited to apply for the marketing manager position, my years of experience and creativity make me a strong candidate.
In this sentence, the modifier “excited to apply for the marketing manager position” is dangling because it’s unclear who or what is excited.
It implies that the excitement is the strong candidate, but in reality, the candidate is the one who is excited.
To correct this sentence, you could revise it to say:
I am excited to apply for the marketing manager position, and my years of experience and creativity make me a strong candidate.
Lack of parallel structure
When a sentence lacks parallel structure, it can cause grammatical imbalance and disrupt its rhythm. The consistent usage of grammatical forms unites words within a sentence and establishes parallel structure.
Here is an example of items in a list not in the same grammatical form:
My responsibilities include writing, to make phone calls, and meeting with clients.
“Writing” is in the gerund form (-ing ending), but “to make phone calls” is in the infinitive form (to + base form of the verb).
To fix this error, we need to make sure that all the items in the list are in the same form. In this case, we can change “to make phone calls” to “making phone calls” so that it matches the gerund form of “writing” and “meeting with clients.”
The sentence with a parallel structure will read:
My responsibilities include writing, making phone calls, and meeting with clients.
A sentence fragment is an incomplete sentence that doesn’t express a complete thought, missing either its subject or its main verb.
Experienced in marketing and social media campaigns. Creating compelling content and increasing engagement.
To fix this fragment, you can either turn it into a complete sentence by adding a subject and verb or incorporate it into a previous or subsequent sentence.
Here is the complete sentence:
I am experienced in marketing and social media campaigns, including creating compelling content and increasing engagement.
A run-on sentence, also known as a fused sentence, is when two or more independent clauses are joined together without the proper punctuation.
Throughout my career, I have developed strong leadership skills I have managed teams of up to 20 people and I have consistently exceeded my sales goals.
To correct this run-on sentence, you could either split it into two separate sentences or use appropriate punctuation, such as a semicolon or period:
Throughout my career, I have developed strong leadership skills. I have managed teams of up to 20 people, and I have consistently exceeded my sales goals.
Throughout my career, I have developed strong leadership skills; I have managed teams of up to 20 people and I have consistently exceeded my sales goals.
By being aware of these common grammar mistakes and proofreading carefully, you can ensure that your cover letter is grammatically correct and professional.
In conclusion, while spelling and grammar errors may not necessarily indicate a lack of job performance, they can still have a negative impact on your chances of being shortlisted for a job.
Therefore, it is crucial to proofread your cover letter carefully and thoroughly to ensure that it is free of mistakes.
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