Career

See How Many of the Errors You Can Spot in This Cover Letter

April 29, 2016

Because grammar can make a big difference when you're applying for a job

You spend hours on a job application before submitting it for consideration. Recruiters, on the other hand, “really only take between 10 to 30 seconds on each résumé,” says Rachel Williams, head of diversity and inclusion at Yelp. “So grammar is a huge part of how you communicate to an employer that you’re detail-oriented, ready for the job and that person that we want to hire.”

The gist? Grammar is incredibly important, both at the application level and throughout your career. “It’s not necessarily that employers are nitpicky,” says Tey Scott, LinkedIn’s global talent acquisition leader. “It’s that employers are looking for things that can differentiate a candidate. So you want to give yourself as much of a leg up as possible.”

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See if you can spot the grammatical errors in the example cover letter below; they’re all issues that Williams and Scott have seen in candidates’ application materials. (We’ll give you a hint: there are nine.)

Dear Ms. Thompson:

I’m a big fan of you’re company, so I was excited to hear that your looking for a manager for your new office.

I’m currently in a similar role at a busy advertising agency. I’ve been their for four years, and I oversee a team of 12 employees. While at the company, I have affected many positive structural changes. I’ve been promoted internally twice and have recieved honors from the CEO for my achievements. Additionally, I pride myself on my ability to anticipate office needs, rather then waiting to be asked to do something.

Your office would really benefit from my skills and my 10 years worth of professional experience. I’m attaching my resume to this email, please reach out if you would like to farther discuss my qualifications.

Sincerely,
Mary Benjamin

1 & 2. I’m a big fan of you’re company, so I was excited to hear that your looking for a manager for your new office.
“You’re” is a contraction that means “you are,” and “your” is a possessive pronoun.

3. I’ve been their for four years…
“Their” is a possessive pronoun, and “there” describes a place or position.

Read more: 16 Secrets for Writing Cover Letters That Will Get You Hired

4. While at the company, I have affected many positive structural changes.
This is a tricky one, as some people might know “effect” as a noun and “affect” as a verb. But the correct word is “effect” when you mean “to bring about.”

5. I’ve been promoted internally twice and have recieved honors…
The correct spelling is “received.” “Have somebody proof your résumé or your cover letter before your send,” says Jessica Miller-Merrell, an HR and recruiting expert and the founder of blogging4jobs.com. “Your mom, your sister, your roommate, your husband, whoever.” Even grammarians make the occasional typo.

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6. Additionally, I pride myself on my ability to anticipate office needs, rather then waiting…
The word “then” is used to indicate time or sequence, while “than” is used for contrast or comparison.

7. Your office would really benefit from my skills and my 10 years worth of professional experience.
“Years” should have an apostrophe at the end since it is a plural possessive in this sentence.

8. I’m attaching my résumé to this email, please reach out…
Commas shouldn’t be used to separate two complete sentences without a conjunction in between them. A period or semicolon would be more appropriate here.

9. …if you would like to farther discuss my qualifications.
“Farther” is usually used to indicate physical distance. “Further” is more often figurative, so “further” would be the correct word here.