Spelling, still important

image from: www.dilbert.com
image from: www.dilbert.com

In 2013 this post really shouldn’t have to be written. Sadly, it does. Not two, but three hiring managers recently confided that they’ve received resumes from job applicants with serious spelling errors. Not cover letters, but resumes. Yikes!

If you aren’t a strong speller, get to know spell check in your favorite word processing program. Even if you are a strong speller and winner of elementary spelling bees, use spell check. Then walk away for at least an hour and read it backwards from the last word to the first. Are any words wrong? Did spell check change a word to one you didn’t want? Have an English major or copy editor friend read your resume and make sure they don’t see anything wrong.

Do the same for your cover letter and any email correspondence that you send with your cover letter and resume as attachments. Nothing turns a hiring manager off quite like misspelling the company name, your alma mater, or your own name.

Full disclosure: As an eager, new graduate, I didn’t follow this advice. I hurried cover letters out the door and erred on the side of quantity over quality. When I received the email response below, I stopped that practice cold and never looked back.

One caution: I’m a sticker for punctuation and language usage. Hey, I already told you I was a  dinosaur, and maybe there aren’t many of us left. But I’d suggest you take a very careful look at your intro letter. And/or, have a really anal English major look it over.  It couldn’t hurt.  And it might just be the grain of sand that weighs the scale in favor of hiring you over someone else. One fact: If I wasn’t also a Mizzou grad, I wouldn’t have bothered to respond.”

After I got over the initial embarrassment, I took his advice and not only reread my letter, but had a copy editor review it. I kept in touch with this agency owner and while he never had an opening at the same time I was looking, his advice has always been spot on.

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Who’s vs. Whose

After explaining who vs. that, I realized I’m still getting hung up on who’s versus whose. I like apostrophes to show ownership. Unfortunately, with these two the one with the apostrophe does not equal ownership.

Who’s is who is. Or who has. It does not show ownership.
Examples: Who’s at the door? (Who is at the door?)
Who’s leave? (Who is leaving?)

Whose is for ownership.
Examples: Whose sandwich is this?
Whose children are those?

Make sense now?

Farther vs. Further

Image from: cafepress.com
It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my friend the copy editor that I finally understood the difference between farther and further.

That’s because I knew both were about distance, I just thought the right one was whichever sounded better in the sentence. Turns out there is a difference.

Farther is for physical distance. Further is for a metaphorical distance.

So if you can replace the answer with miles, feet, or centimeters then the right word is farther. For example, I’m farther away from Far, Far, Away than I was when I lived in Disneyland. And I need more coffee before I can get any further involved in this project.

Make sense now?

All Together vs. Altogether: A Grammar Lesson

Image from: http://www.unenlightenedenglish.com/wp-content
Before we can discuss the specifics, it is important to realize that this confusion is part of a bigger issue. In English, there are several words that combine all and a root word to create alroot. Follow so far?

All Together is an adverb that means at the same time or as a group. For example: One, two, three, all together, sing happy Birthday to you and let’s go to the movie at the drive-in all together, it’s much more fun that way! So if you can substitute let us or drop the all and the sentence still makes sense use all together.

Altogether
Altogether is also an adverb that can mean completely, total or considering everything. For example: today’s deposit was $439 in cash and $588 in checks: $1027 altogether or altogether, it wasn’t such a bad trip, despite the sort of disastrous incident with the beehive.

The Education Bug website offers a mnemonic you can use to differentiate all together and altogether. “Remember that all together – because it’s two separate words – is the one that needs to get into a group and get in sync. This associates the meaning with the spelling to help you remember which of these easily confused words is which.”

It is what AND how you communicate

 

Image from: http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course

There’s an old adage, that what you say isn’t as important as how you say it. I disagree. Both what you say and how you say it are remembered.

 

If you write an e-mail with proper grammar, spelling and sentence structure, but use the BCC to talk about a person behind their back, you’ve done yourself a disservice. If you use poor spelling and sentence structure in your correspondence with your co-workers, how does your supervisor know that isn’t how you communicate with clients?

If you want to be perceived as professional make sure you communicate professionally. This goes for e-mail, in person, on the phone and every other way you communicate.