Typing yourself out of a job

By: Paul Marshall, CPCT, CET, CPT, STNA

Social media and texting has given rise to poor habits in communication – misspelling, no punctuation or capitalization, bad grammar, misused words. All that might be fine with your friends, but in general it makes us look uneducated and unable to communicate clearly.

And when it comes to your job search, all those bad habits can hurt your chances of getting an interview, let alone a good job.

When I am looking at applications and resumes for interviews the first thing I notice, before I actually read anything, is how it looks and how the person communicates. Misspelled or incorrectly used words and bad grammar jump off the page and show the person cannot communicate clearly and they don’t pay attention to details. In other words, they are probably not someone I want to hire.


Many places now communicate with applicants by email. While this can be easier than making calls and leaving messages, they can also be looking how well you write. Don’t type like you are talking to your friends – type like you are filling out an application or writing your resume. Take the time to make sure things are spelled right. Capitalize and use punctuation. Check your grammar. Look professional. We all laugh at auto-correct errors, so be careful if you are using your phone. Carefully read and edit your email, looking for mistakes.

When I see your resume, your application, or your email response to me, I don’t know if you are a hard worker or knowledgeable, or reliable or dependable. All I know is what is right there: if it looks like you can’t communicate clearly and can’t be bothered to look professional then I assume you won’t be bothered to do a good job if you are hired. In other words, I am looking for another candidate.

Some very simple tips:

There, their, and they’re.

  • ·“I walked in there from the parking lot.” It is about a place, not here.
  • ·“That is their office.” It is about ownership or who it belongs to.
  • ·“They’re the company I want to work for.” A contraction of they are, it shows who you are talking about.

Your and You’re.

  • ·“Your office is very nice.” Again, this shows ownership or who something belongs to.
  • ·“You’re the first person I talked with about this job.” A contraction of you are.

To, too, and two.

  • ·“We can go to get coffee.” Identifies a person or place or action
  • ·“You can come too.” Means to add something or someone to what is happening.
  • ·“There are two coffee shops here.” This is the number 2.

Then and than

  • ·“We can get coffee and then go to the meeting.” Shows a sequence of events.
  • ·“I like tea better than coffee.” Compares two things.

All of this may seem picky. In almost every job, details matter and the ability to communicate clearly matters as well. When somebody looks at your resume they are looking at how you are communicating with them, and they are looking at how careful you are with details. Don’t type yourself out of a job.