The Truth About Grammar & Spelling On Your Résumé

If you read any material or ask anyone in the know about putting together a résumé they politically correct answer is to make sure that there are no grammatical or spelling errors on it.

While that is true MOST of the time there are a few exceptions to that rule:

If you are the Michael Jordan of your job-function perfection is not required. In his prime do you think any team in the NBA would have told Michael Jordan, “Well Michael, we would love to have you on our team but we saw a misspelled word in your work history.”

If you have recruiters beating down your door on a daily basis to pitch opportunities to you because everyone knows you are the best in town at what you do then you can stress a little less over the little things on your résumé.

The more sought after your skill-set the lower the need for perfection. I guarantee that if you are one of five people in the whole US who can do a particular job and do it to perfection (and yes, I think I have worked on some of those before) the fact that you had a comma out-of-place is NOT going to disqualify you.

If you are brought down from on high and seeing your résumé is just a formality the need for perfection goes out the window. You have done all that you should be doing in your search (networking, networking and more networking) and you hit the jackpot – a CEO thinks you are the guy for an opening within his company.

He walks you down to HR and tells them that you are the person for the job. Do you think the HR person is going to tell him, “Gee Mr. CEO, I don’t think we can hire this person – he used a double negative.”

Let me think about that for a second. Umm… NO!

In closing – if you are headed to the hall of fame for your job-function, have a skill-set that’s in demand and has very few players, or can put yourself in a situation to be brought down from on high you can worry less about the things the rest of us do. For the rest of us, spellcheck will continue to be our best friend. 

Until next time – good hunting and good luck!

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8 responses to “The Truth About Grammar & Spelling On Your Résumé

  1. While you make a few good points, your exceptions are certainly not the rule. Proper grammar is important regardless of the situation. Why? Because no matter your status, you are looked upon more favorably when you write and communicate well. I have had clients dimiss candidates simply because of minor grammatical errors in their resumes. Your resume is representative of your overall expertise.

    By the way, you have an error in the first sentence of your article. Have you found it?

    • I agree good grammar is important but you are telling me that if you had an open search for a Senior Oracle DBA with data warehousing experience and that person had to live local in Nashville and had to be 75k AND YOU FOUND ONE that he would get shot down because of a grammar error. I think you and I both know the answer to that.

      If you are talking about a help desk person that is a different story.

    • I also found the glaring mistake in the first sentence, but did you find your own glaring mistake?

      • Thanks for reading Jim. I will def find it. I normally write my posts in the early AM with kids running around so grammar is not always perfect.

  2. First of all, Michael Jordan doesn’t get to be Michael Jordan by saying “to heck with it, I’m not going to try to do my best because I’m Michael Jordan and I don’t have to.” Sooooo.. this is an article written for nobody, basically. If you happen to be Michael Jordan you really shouldn’t even waste your time reading it. And ultimately if I have *TWO* Michael Jordans in front of me and one has made grammatical errors guess which one is getting the form letter and why.

  3. With respect, I think this is a fairly pointless discussion. Anyone with a grammatically-dodgy CV who gets a job is successful despite their errors not because of them. The exceptions you refer to might well get the job if they swear during the interview or have particularly bad body-odour. I don’t suppose you’d consider advising that washing wasn’t always necessary. Also, if you’re one of these happy few, you probably don’t read “Advice from Recruiters” columns.  

  4. As a person who reviews hundreds of online apps each week, I would respectfully disagree.
    Most of my clients want candidates who have “attention to detail and a results orientation”. When I have hundreds of applicants to choose from, guess where the ones with typo’s go?
    TIP: read your resume backwards to find the typo’s!

  5. As someone who has reviewed hundreds of resume, I also agree with the “grammar police.” Michael Jordan, or any other person who is one of only 5 who does what he/she does, is almost certainly not applying for jobs through the same channels as most of us. Moreover, viewing your resume as more than just a specific job application, but more as a general marketing document that may end up on the desk of someone unexpected, you should be presenting your best self on paper. I don’t understand the downside to having your resume grammatically perfect, and I think it’s a bad idea to go into your job search with the attitude that you can afford to overlook the details, even if you are Michael Jordan.

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