Spelling Errors Send Red Flags To Employers

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misspelled words on resumes and cover lettersBy Justin Thompson, The Work Buzz


Really, I had the simplest of intentions. By sending out a link to The Oatmeal's classic graphic of "10 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling" as a reminder to job seekers everywhere that a lot is two words, I opened a vortex of commonly misused or misspelled words that drive employers crazy when they see them in résumés, cover letters, correspondence and even social media updates. But it wasn't only employers who were miffed at these common blunders – job seekers too were disappointed in their peers. When I polled our Twitter and Facebook fans, they gave me an onslaught of other words that they found were on the list of common offenders. Twitter user @XuDannyO added that he sees people who don't know the difference between "ensure" and "insure." His great example being, "'I insure customer satisfaction.' Really? You took out an insurance policy on that?"

Other unforgivable mistakes, according to our Facebook comments, included:

  • No and know
  • Whole and hole
  • Receive
  • Separate
  • Beautiful
  • Appreciate
  • Restaurant
  • Smelled and smelt
  • Leaned and leant and lend
  • Form and from
  • While and whilst
  • Definitely vs defiantly (people don't realize these are two different words with two different meanings)
  • Apart and a part
  • To, too, two
  • Your and you're

Teresa Z. added, "The problem is people rely on spell check too often and don't realize that if the word is spelled correctly but used in the wrong context, spell check won't always pick it up. They need to use the 'eyeball' method." She's right – you need to proofread your work, especially if you are sending out a résumé and cover letter in hopes of competing for a job. One of the most common typos seen by Heidi F. is "you" instead of "your." So in your cover letter, if you write "I'm the best candidate for you marketing needs," then you probably aren't going to get the call to come in for the interview. I'll admit it – I have had consistent trouble with the word sandwich throughout my entire life. I'm not sure why because I've eaten enough of them that I should be spelling the word correctly.

It doesn't mean that you're a waste of life if you didn't win the 4th grade spelling bee or have trouble spelling today. When you take the time to proof your work and check any spellings (thank you dictionary.com) that you are uncertain about, that shows an employer attention to detail and the ability to do good work. But when you end your cover letter with "I hope to here from you," you probably won't hear from them either.

One final word on social media and status updates or tweets. Despite character limitations and the inherent creative license to make a bold statement, you still need to act and spell professionally. Consistent tweets like "IM HAVIN NO LUK IN MY JOB SERCH" aren't endearing and would probably prompt an employer to block and report you as spam. One-in-five companies are using social media to hire and 45% of companies are screening applicants by their social media profiles. If you are using social media to increase your chances of being seen and heard by potential employers, you probably need to audit your online brand image and decide whether you need to change your privacy settings, create separate accounts or clean up your online act. What steps do you take to proof your résumé or cover letters before submitting them to employers? What are some other words or phrases that you find you commonly misuse or misspell? How can we help each other catch our little mistakes?


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