Your Bad Grammar Could Cost You That Awesome Job You Want

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black-woman-mad-paperDuring my undergraduate years, while some of my peers were interviewing to enter the workforce upon graduation, I noticed a handful of them stressing over a particular company and their requirements for obtaining employment. I must say, this company was like “Mecca” for those of us graduating from this particular business school.

They offered great pay and it was understood that once you had the chance to work with them for several years, you pretty much set yourself to be a well sought after candidate for other companies in your future endeavors. When my peers explained the interview process to me they spoke of endless hours of test taking and essay writing. While I was familiar with these sorts of requirements for those of us who chose to enter graduate and post-graduate institutions, I had never heard of companies putting candidates through rigorous interviewing and vetting processes such as this.

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Fast forward a couple of years later and the entire notion of test-taking and requiring a writing sample became common as I sought employment in the legal field. In fact, it is becoming more commonplace in other industries as employers are now clamping down on hiring employees with a less than stellar grasp on grammar and how it will affect their daily role as an employee.

As highlighted in an AmericanExpress.com Open Forum article, entitled “Grammar Purists: Why These Companies Won’t Hire Bad Writers,” many employers offer their opinions as to why they want employees with top-level writing skills and/or are willing to train them to help them improve them. I sometimes struggle with appropriate comma placement, and the proper use for semicolons; so I get it.

When I had to rely heavily on my writing skills for one of my first jobs as an attorney, I often cringed and beat myself up for the amounts of revisions I had to make to documents due to my failure to properly utilize certain words. It happens, yet, it can also be remedied.

So what exactly is used to determine whether or not you are grammatically fit to work for a company? Well, many recruiters and hiring managers take into account your resume, cover letter, thank-you letter and any writing samples that may need to be submitted as a part of the hiring process.

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Numerous executives have increased their efforts to bring good grammar to the forefront of their companies. Elias Dagher, senior principal of New York city engineering firm Dagher Engineering, LLC, argues that, although engineering might not seem to be a writing intensive activity, good grammar plays a key factor in his business and is a major consideration when he looks for employees. “I’ve seen projects shot down because the writing, grammar and layout were scattered and confusing,” Dagher explains. “Good writing is good thinking. If you can’t write coherently—if you can’t explain your idea properly—then your science is going to be screwed up.”

Additionally, bosses such as Hope Lane, a partner at a DC-area accounting firm Aronson LLC, pointed out that their offices asks and encourage their employees to help each other with their writing. “If my employees are trying to convey a lot of information or a complex concept in an email, they need to have it peer-reviewed for clarity and tone,” Lane explains. “It’s important for them to understand how their messages come across.” She has also called in a business writing expert to teach them a class on grammar and writing.

While some employers simply won’t hire you due to any use of “bad grammar,” others are willing to train you to be better. But what happens to those who do not have the same support from management to assist in additional grammar training? Simple, go back to the basics and brush up on your grammar by yourself. There are numerous website such as Grammarphobia.com and Grammarly that assist in every day grammar use for those who may be unsure about their work.

We owe it to ourselves to offer the best work product to our employers, clients and subscribers. Though some work environments may not harp on infrequent or small mishaps as it relates to your use of grammar, everyone should strive to give their best in their pursuits, especially when the solution may be found in taking your time while writing, proofreading, and/or researching on our own.

Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.

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