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Your Spelling and Grammar Checklist

Jennifer Walker
May 30, 2017

17 common errors that can prevent you from getting a job.



Did you know that using too many exclamation points or misspelled words can cost you a job? Over and over again, families complain about one thing: caregivers with sloppy profiles and messages with lots of errors.

Your profile and emails are a reflection of you -- and they need to be perfect. Spelling and grammar errors make you look unprofessional. Whether you're caring for children or seniors, tutoring students, cleaning homes, etc., employers look for attention to detail. Messy messages give them impression that you don't care or don't take the time to get the little things right.

Before you submit an application, write a profile or message a potential employer, check your words against this list. Did you:

  1. Spell All Words Correctly?
    Use a dictionary like Merriam-Webster.

  2. Proofread?
    Read your profile from beginning to end and then backward, from end to beginning. This will help you catch any mistakes your brain "compensates" for by skipping over them.

  3. Use Proper Grammar?
    Spell check can help with this, too, but it's not an end-all, be-all. Read it out loud to make sure everything sounds right. Your ear can be your best tool.

  4. Use Proper Capitalization?
    Make sure proper nouns and the first word of each sentence are capitalized. Never write in all caps or all lowercase -- it looks unprofessional.

  5. Use Correct Punctuation?
    Using lots of exclamation marks looks juvenile -- stick to no more than one or two per message. Make sure you use question marks when you ask a question and periods at the ends of sentences. Don't use & when you mean "and."

  6. Use Complete Sentences?
    Avoid run-on or incomplete sentences. Employers don't like to see bullet points or laundry lists of items. Take the time to write complete thoughts that relate to the job you're applying for.

  7. Use the Right Numbers?
    Spell out numerals at the beginning of sentences (e.g. Eleven years ago, I...). After that, spell out one through nine and use numbers for 10 or above and whenever you're talking about ages of people or animals 2-year-old-girl).

  8. Add the Right Spaces?
    What you put between the words is also important. Make sure you use one space between sentences. Having no spaces or too many can make your message hard to read.

  9. Avoid Abbreviations Like LOL, HMU and TY?
    Using any types of abbreviations or short-hand in your material can make you sound unprofessional. This is a job application, not a text message. Take the time to say "thank you" instead of "TY" and "tonight" instead of "2nite".

  10. Pay Attention to Subject-Verb Agreement?
    If the subject of your sentence is singular, the verb should be singular as well. And plural subjects should be paired with plural verbs.?Otherwise you wind up with incorrect sentences like: "The kids I care for is great."

  11. Use the Same Tense Throughout?
    If you're speaking about past experience, use past tense; don't jump back and forth.

  12. Check Your Apostrophes?
    If the word is possessive, be sure it has an apostrophe. As a general rule, singular possessives end in an apostrophe s, while plural possessives end in an s apostrophe: child's toys, dog's bowl, kids' toy room.

  13. Use the Right "Its"?
    "Its," no apostrophe, is possessive. "It's" is a contraction meaning "it is."

  14. Use Contractions Correctly?
    The most common grammatical mistakes involve contractions. They're means they are; you're means you are.

  15. Use the Right Form of Effect/Affect?
    Effect is a noun that means "as result" and affect is a verb that means "to influence"

  16. Use the Right Form of Their, They're, There?
    Their is a possessive pronoun; they're is a contraction meaning they are; there denotes a direction.

  17. Use the Right Then/Than?
    Then refers to time (I did this, then that). Than refers to comparisons (This is better than that.)

Thoroughly proofing your profile may take a little more time, but you'll receive a greater payoff. Ask a trusted friend to do an additional read, too. They may catch little things you'll gloss over.

By putting in a little extra effort and paying attention to details, job seekers can stand out. Avoid these common grammar mistakes and personalize your application, resume and pitch for each job you are applying to. These little steps will go a long way to getting you the right job.

Jennifer Walker is a freelance writer in Detroit. Her work can be found here.

July 11, 2015

Very interesting and informative .

User in Seffner, FL
June 9, 2015

Becky, I also space sentences with two spaces. My high school typing teaching back in the 80's drilled it in my brain. It's so hard to change when you were taught this is the correct way. I just realized I'm doing it right here. I might try to convert but it will be painful!

User in Visalia, CA
Oct. 31, 2014

This is one that most certainly goes both ways. I see a number of ads posting for jobs that are full of spelling and grammar errors, so both sides need to proofread and use spell check.

July 30, 2014

knit pick: \

User in Plano, TX
July 9, 2014

I agree Faith, this is such great advise and a nice tool to have on my desktop!

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