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Choosing your words

January 19, 2021 by Harrison Kopp

Choosing your words

Your job application is likely to be the first thing a prospective employer will see from you, so it’s important to make a good impression. Bad grammar and incorrect spelling are more than a big turn-off, they’re quick and easy reasons for a busy recruiter to drop your application into the ‘no’ pile!

But wait, Microsoft Word has a spell-checker. You don’t need to be super vigilant with your proofreading, the computer will do it for you, right? Wrong, I’m afraid – let me demonstrate, using the following sentence as an example:

“One must realize that when going to enroll in an internship course, you must be careful too ensure there 3-5 pieces of identification were all correct.”

There are seven spelling, grammar or punctuation errors in this sentence. A quick hint – Australian English is based on British English, rather the American English. How many errors did you spot?

  1. (“) double quotation marks – in Australia, we use single quotation marks (‘) for quotes, not double (“) like in the US.
  2. Realize - the Australian spelling of ‘realise’ is with an ‘s’, as opposed to the ‘z’ it’s spelt with in the US. ‘Analyse’ and ‘organise’ are further examples of this difference in spelling.
  3. 3-5 pieces - should be written using words for numbers, along with the word ‘to’ instead of a hyphen (three to five).
  4. When/were ensure that tenses match up. If you start with future tense (when) and end with past tense (were) it can negatively affect the readability of your writing.
  5. One/you - the point of view taken should be consistent. Beginning with ‘one’ (singular third person), then referring to ‘you’ (singular second person) before ending with ‘their’ (plural third person) is confusing and, once again, affects the readability of your work in a negative way.
  6. Enroll - in Australia, words like ‘enrol’ and ‘distil’ are spelt with one ‘l’, not two like in the US.
  7. Too - ‘too’, ‘to’ and ‘two’ have different meanings, as do ‘their’, ‘there’ and ‘they’re’, and ‘your’ and ‘you’re’.

Only the last two errors listed were picked up by Word’s spell-checker, the remaining errors were not highlighted. And, while some employers may not be paying close attention when reading your application, a majority of them are!

Getting your head around these language rules will improve the quality of your writing in general. Which is never a bad thing – strong written communication is a transferable skill that employers are always looking for.

Here’s some more handy advice on ten common grammatical errors that are easily avoided, and don’t forget to set your MS custom dictionary to English (AUS).

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