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The Power of Punctuation — Why It Might be Costing you Your Next Job

2-boys-and-a-monkey-Yoh-blog.jpgYou’re spending a lot of time getting everything just right. You want your cover letter, your resume, and everything that you send to a hiring manager to look perfect. You put a lot of thought into your answers—but are you spending enough time proofing what you’ve actually written? If you aren’t reviewing your punctuation, then you might be conveying all of the wrong things.

You hear it time and time again, your cover letter and your resume is an extension of you. According to Glassdoor, each corporate job attracts over 250 resumes with only four to six candidates getting accepted for interview. Though capturing well thought out bullet points matters, so too does your attention to detail.

You don’t have to be a wordsmith to recognize that proper punctuation can make or break you. Without the right punctuation, your resume may be tossed to the side with little regard.

What Poor Punctuation Says About You Professionally

So how do you overcome this common mistake, and ensure that your cover letter and resume are the best representation of you? Even if you aren’t the best writer, it’s imperative that your punctuation is powerful, proper, and effective. If you think through it and dedicate some time and effort, then you can avoid the most common issues with improper punctuation.

Understanding just how far reaching this problem can be is an excellent starting point. Here, we look at just what improper punctuation can say about you—and why a thorough review is essential in moving forward successfully.

That you just don’t care

Though you may have taken the time to think through your responsibilities, improper punctuation can overshadow that. It may show that you rushed through building your resume or that you didn’t fine tune it.

If your cover letter or resume is littered with punctuation errors, it says that you didn’t care enough to slow down and review what you were saying. This is not a good first impression and eludes that you don’t care about or possess an attention to detail.

Tip: Always use spell checkers before submitting any professional document. You can use Microsoft Word or if you need a free spellcheck source, try Apache Open Office which also helps to fix any grammar issues.


You look uneducated when really that’s far from the truth

Just one improperly placed punctuation mark can create a run on sentence. A lack of punctuation or the wrong use of it may make you look as if you don’t have the education or experience that you truly do.

Tip: Refrain from using exclamation marks to prove a point. Your resume should feel neutral, objective and clear. Your achievements should be enough to woo the recruiter.


You're not a match for the job 

If the job that you're applying for is centered around or involves writing, then you're hurting your chances from the very start. It may be a simple omission or mistake, but it can speak volumes to a hiring manager. You want your communication in the early stages of the hiring process to wow them. Therefore, if you miss a punctuation error this can send the message that you're not a good writer. You could be passed up for something great that you're truly qualified for!

Tip: Get a grasp of the company culture. Does their job description contain an unorthodox writing style, grammar or punctuation? They may be looking for a candidate with the same out-of-box ideas and approach. When in Rome ..!


You're unable to rise to the top in the candidate selection

Remember that when you send in a cover letter and resume, you're competing against many others for one job. Punctuation errors easily put your resume at the bottom of the pile. In a time when you want to stand out among all of the qualified candidates, one silly error can squash that prospect. You want to give them a reason to look at you, and improper punctuation may truly work against you.

Tip: Your family and friends are not just there as a shoulder to cry on after receiving a job rejection letter (or more likely, simply never hearing back from the company you applied to) they're also there to help you BEFORE you send out your resume. Get your punctuation checked over by at least two other people.

Don't let terrible punctuation be the deciding factor

Though you may have the very best of intentions, the wrong punctuation can seal your fate in the interviewing process. If you're careful to review your work, even in a follow up email, this allows you to put your best foot forward. You want to be sure that the wrong punctuation is not what keeps you from moving forward. If you want to impress the hiring manager, then be sure that you put as much time in reviewing your work as you did in developing the ideas.

A quick review of your cover letter, resume, and corresponding communications can prevent any mistakes that could keep you from landing the interview. Well thought out and reviewed communication can guarantee you stand out as a worthwhile candidate—and proper punctuation is a big part of that. A part you are very much in control of!


This post was provided by Joe Flanagan, the Senior Resume Consultant at Velvet Jobs a resume builder and job search website for candidates of all ages and abilities. When he's not helping people with their career you can find him learning Mandarin Chinese and playing five-a-side football.

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