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I hope it goes without saying that grammar and spelling errors in your executive job search marketing materials (LinkedIn profile, resume, biography, etc.) and email communications reflect badly on you as a candidate.
Such errors can actually tarnish your personal brand.
Surely, it’s no surprise that candidates demonstrating a strong grasp of the English language are more desirable. People assume they’ll be better written and verbal communicators and leaders on the job.
But we all make mistakes. Prevalent typos like “manger” for “manager” plague all of us, and should be forgiven, right?
Well, maybe, but don’t count on it.
Diligent proofreading for grammar and spelling errors is a must.
All of your job search content should be error-free. Before posting your LinkedIn and other online profiles, and sending out your resume accompanied by email messages, look them over very carefully.
And don’t rely on Spell Check. The “manger” for “manager” flub will pass right through it, for instance. And pay close attention to typos in your contact info, for obvious reasons.
Be aware that grammatical errors can convey the wrong message and even make you look ridiculous. Watch for confusing misplaced modifiers and phrases that distort what you meant to say.
Spelling errors can damage your Personal SEO.
Here’s another thing you may not be aware of . . .
Beyond failing the human eyeball test, these errors can keep people from finding you online by mucking up your Personal SEO, a key element in today’s executive job search.
Personal SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is all about the relevant keywords and phrases (or “hard” skills) you possess that recruiters and hiring managers most search online to source and assess candidates like you.
If these keywords are misspelled, search engines may not recognize them, making you invisible to the very people who can help you reach your career goals.
For example, I saw a LinkedIn professional headline with this phrase:
Vice President Channel and Allinaces
Imagine what people will think of him, if the first thing visible at the top of his profile contains a glaring misspelling. Just as important, search engines may not interpret the word “Allinaces” to mean “Alliances”.
How well do you proofread your email messages before sending?
If your first introduction to people who can help you get a job is an email with typos and other errors, how likely do you think you’ll make it into the first round?
Or, what about your ongoing email communications with recruiters, other hiring professionals, and other people involved with your job search? Don’t turn them off to you by sending emails that are poorly written and contain errors.
Punctuation errors can also be a problem.
When using formatting enhancements, such as pipes ( | ), slashes ( / ), bullets ( • ), asterisks ( * ), etc., be sure to leave a space before and after each one, so that each word or phrase is distinct and separate for search engines to recognize.
For example, the following string on a LinkedIn profile headline is not good:
Enterprise Architecture|Risk Management|IT SOX Compliance
It should read:
Enterprise Architecture | Risk Management | IT SOX Compliance
Grammarly is a powerful and easy-to-use tool for grammar and spelling errors.
Save yourself a lot of headaches and look like a writing pro. Along with grammatical errors, Grammarly’s free checker spots spelling errors, incorrect punctuation and misused words in English text. And, among the many other features, you get corrections while you write on Gmail, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all your other favorite sites.
The Premium paid account bumps it up further with advanced checks for punctuation, grammar, context, and sentence structure; vocabulary enhancement suggestions; genre-specific writing style checks; and a plagiarism detector that checks more than 16 billion web pages.
With so many other free proofreading tools out there, why choose Grammarly?
As noted on their website:
“Grammarly’s products run on a sophisticated AI system built to analyze English sentences. Unlike other tools (most spell checkers, for instance) that rely on a rigid set of rules, Grammarly takes context into account when making corrections or suggestions. This means that when you write ‘affect’ but you meant ‘effect,’ Grammarly will let you know that you spelled the word right but used it in the wrong context.”
When misspellings are a good thing.
This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s a good idea to list at the bottom of your LinkedIn Summary section the most common misspellings or alternate spellings of your name, along with previous last names, if you’ve changed it over time (for instance, through marriage and/or divorce).
This helps search engines find your profile, even when people misspell your name in a search for you.
That said, otherwise keep your name consistent across all your online profiles and career documents, so that people assessing you will be able to differentiate you between others with the same or similar name.
More About Executive Job Search and Personal SEO
Are You Executive Job Search-Ready?
Look, I Found My Personal Brand Doppelganger!
How Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Impacts Executive Job Search
Personal SEO in Executive Job Search: What’s in a Name?
How to Balance Personal Branding With Personal SEO
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Rich Marsh says
Don’t use pipe “|” on your resume or cover letter if you submit electronically. It is an Operating System Command from the old days of DOS, which is still used in Linux and Unix based systems to this day. It means “Redirect Output To Another Program.” http://www.linfo.org/pipes.html
The security systems of many companies will automatically discard any document containing it. It may be accepted by other companies but it’s not likely that you will know if the company allows it or not. For that matter, their IT department probably won’t know either.
Meg Guiseppi says
Thanks for bringing this up, Rich. I’ll do some investigating. I appreciate your comment!