When you’re putting your job application together, grammar and spelling is important. Beware of stray apostrophes, commas in the wrong places, over-capitalising and unnecessary expressions which could make your application hard to read.
Job applications are the first chance a recruiter gets to assess your suitability for a job and they won’t only be deciding if you’ve got the right qualifications and experience, they’ll also be trying to work out if you’d be a good representative for their company. It’s important to present yourself well, and one of the quickest ways to make sure that your CV ends up on the reject pile is to have an application form littered with grammar mistakes.
Although your computer spell check should pick up the majority of spelling mistakes, it isn’t always able to check grammar errors. Here is how you can avoid the most common errors.
1. Include apostrophes in the right places
One of the most common places that candidates get mixed up is when it comes to apostrophes. Some people tend to not use them at all, whilst others get confused and include them everywhere. Apostrophes are there to show that a letter is missing (for example: don’t) or that it belongs to someone (Reece’s application). It can also be used for time and quantity (this year’s love)
One of the most common apostrophe blunders is its vs it’s. The best way to check if you’ve got it right is to try and replace each occurrence with it is. If you can, then it should be ‘it’s’ and if not, leave it as ‘its’.
Write in the first person
Talking about yourself in the third person is a little strange and makes it sound like you haven’t put the application together yourself. Using I, me and my, makes your application feel more personal. Stick to the first person throughout; people often accidentally switch, especially when pasting information into job applications.
When you are writing about things that have already happened, use the past, but when you are discussing your current job or university project use the present. Whichever tense you need to use, make sure that you use the same one throughout the statement. Getting your tenses wrong can really confuse people and make it hard to read.
Don’t use capitals where they aren’t needed.
Some people think that capitals make sentences easier to read but often it does the opposite. Always check that you have included capitals for names and titles. If they use capitals for job titles in the person specification then replicate this in your application.
Explain abbreviations the recruiter won’t understand
When you work in a company or study a particular subject, you will probably pick up institutional language that those outside the group don’t understand. When you are applying for jobs it’s important to spell them out. But some abbreviations such as GCSE or BBC are famous enough to be left as is.
If you forget a comma, then you can really change the meaning of a sentence. For example “My interests include cooking pedigree dogs and basketball.” Sounds completely different to how it was intended. Another common comma mistake can be down to spell check. It will often suggest that you replace them with a semi-colon, but this is often unnecessary, so leave it as a comma.
Writing a CV or cover letter isn’t the easiest task and when you are trying to make a point there can be a tendency to include phrases such as: It goes without saying / as far as I’m concerned / exactly the same.These words don’t add anything and can make your statements harder to read.
An application form for a graduate job needs to be easy to read, clear and free of mistakes. Be sure to check the meanings of words, re-read every document multiple times (print it out to triple check) to avoid these common grammatical mistakes.
Your application is the first chance you get to speak directly to recruiters, and when you are applying for a role where communication is key, then getting it right is absolutely essential. If you know when to use their, they’re and there, have a passion for people and want a graduate career with a difference, check out the current vacancies for our graduate management programme.