Why Grammar Matters in Your Job Search


During a job search, your first impression on the hiring manager is usually made in writing, as most employers are introduced to candidates through their resumes and cover letters. Since these initial impressions are so important, using proper grammar and punctuation are a necessity, particularly since incorrect usage can change the meaning of your writing.

Writing effective business communications, including resumes, isn’t always easy, especially since there are so many rules to follow. To help you make the best impression possible, here are some common mistakes job seekers make on their applications and how to avoid them.

It’s vs. Its

A surprising number of people struggle when it comes to properly using “it’s” and “its.” Much of the confusion revolves around how most possessive pronouns are structured as “it” doesn’t follow the common pattern.

“It’s” is intended to be used as a contraction only, reflecting a shortened version of the phrase “it is” or “it has.” The possessive form is “its.”

There, They’re, and Their

One of the most confusing homophone sets is “there,” “they’re,” and “their,” and many job seekers chose the wrong one.

“They’re” is a contraction, representing “they are,” while “their” is the possessive, reflecting ownership. “There” is traditionally used when referring to a location, serving as an introductory pronoun or an adverb.

Comma Splices

A comma splice occurs when two independent clauses (phrases that could stand on their own as sentences, with each clause containing both a subject and a verb) are separated by a comma but are not linked by a coordinating conjunction, such as “and” or “but.”

While a comma splice may not seem too severe initially, it does represent a grammar error involving improper punctuation. Generally, the easiest way to resolve the issue is to either create two separate sentences, separated by a period, or use a semicolon instead of a comma between the clauses.


Generally, an apostrophe is only necessary when forming a contraction, such as “aren’t,” or when showing possession (except for with the pronoun “it”). In the vast majority of cases, an apostrophe is not required when making plurals

The only major exception most job seekers will encounter, in regards to plurals, is when referring to letters. For example, “I received straight A’s throughout my college career,” is an appropriate time to use an apostrophe for a plural.

Affect vs. Effect

When choosing between “affect” and “effect,” it is important to think of “affect” as a verb, or action word, and “effect” as a noun, representing an event or thing. For example, the quality of your resume affects your success rate, and the effect of a great resume is that you could be hired.

For those who tend to struggle with grammar rules, it’s wise to use software to review your writing and have it reviewed by someone you trust. Grammar checks are not foolproof, so having someone else take a look can help you catch more mistakes before you submit your application.

If you are looking for a new position this year, the professionals at The Advance Group can help make sure your resume is in order while connecting you with top employers in the area. Contact us today to see how our services can help you during your job search.






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