Grammar & Punctuation

Triple check your work

Employers end up receiving thousands of resumes for one position. Because of this, they are often looking for any reason to eliminate a candidate. And the fastest way to end up in the “no? pile? Grammatical errors.

When it comes to putting together, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

Check your spelling and grammar

The good news with all of our resume and cover letter formats formats that you’ll soon have access to, is that you are able to write out your documents in Word or Pages, thus allowing the program to catch your spelling errors.

However, one thing that can be tricky for these programs to really look for are grammatical errors. It’s easy to slip up and type a correctly spelled word, while it not being the grammatically correct word. For example, what happens if you type the word “their” but really you should have typed “there”? Unfortunately, Word and Pages may not catch it and you could run the risk of setting a bad impression after sending off your documents in a job application.

The most comment misused words and grammatical errors on resumes are:

  • Affect/Effect

  • Accept/Except

  • And/Or

  • Assure/Ensure/Insure

  • It’s/Its

  • Their/There/They’re

  • Then/Than

  • To/Too/Two

  • Whose/Who’s

  • Your/You’re

This is why we suggest signing-up for the Grammarly application. Grammarly is not just a fancy spell-checker, but rather an application that automatically detects potential grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, and style mistakes in writing. Grammarly's algorithms flag potential issues in the text and suggest context-specific corrections for grammar, spelling, wordiness, style, punctuation, and plagiarism. While Grammarly is available as a free-add on with to your preferred browser, it is also available for download onto your computer. As avid Grammarly users, we highly recommend downloading this application to triple check your work and make sure that not only every word is spelled correctly, but that it’s the correct word you meant to use!

Use Action Verbs

All of your sentences in your job descriptions should start with action verbs, rather than “I did…” This allows the reader to start immediately formulating a visual reference of the job you actually accomplished. For example, if you worked on a project management system to increase productivity, it could read something like:

“Implemented new project management system to improve productivity by 35%”

Check your tenses

Depending on which job you are writing about, it’s important to maintain consistency throughout your resume by using the right tenses.

For example, if you are writing descriptions about your current job, then your tense should be in the present - Implement instead of Implemented.

If you are writing descriptions about a previous position, then your tense should be int he past - Worked instead of Works

Show your numbers in numbers

Many people tend to question whether or not they should write out the spelling out the number or just placing the numerical value. For resume writing, the “best” approach is to show all numbers in number format for consistency, to save space, and to catch the attention of the reader. Similarly, when listing out figures such as money, to save space, look at writing it in a shorter format. For example, $10 million  or $10 M uses much less space than ten million dollars.

Punctuation best practices

Punctuation exists to make reading easier. Otherwise, sentences would run together and the reader would not know when one sentence ends and another begins. Notations such as commas and parenthetical marks also let the reader know when to pause and when information is included as a side thought.

There are no right or wrong rules towards whether or not you should end each of your job descriptions with periods, but pick a position and make sure it’s consistent throughout your entire resume.

Capitalization matters

Whenever you’re writing proper nouns and names, make sure they are capitalized, such as the names of schools and universities. Headings should also be capitalized consistently throughout the document. Do not capitalize a word just because it seems important, but if you’re unsure of whether or not something should be capitalized, a quick Google search should be able to show you the consistent use of that word.

We’ll prompt you again later on in this lesson to come back to this area to triple check your work before you start sending off your resume and cover letters to potential jobs!