Leave Your Grammar Mistakes in 2017


Attorneys can be a tough crowd to engage. They are juggling demanding careers and lives, and are quick to cut through the fluff in order to use their time effectively. We love working with attorneys and enjoy working to get their attention. Well, last week we set the bait for the 7,000+ attorneys on our network - an email reminding them to check the grammar in their profiles with a glaring grammatical error in the subject line. The responses from our network did not disappoint!

Our subject line read:

"Grammar Police: Have You Review The Content On Your Profile?"

Here’s the point: 61% of recruiters and 43% of hiring managers will disqualify applicants because of spelling and grammatical mistakes in cover letters, resumes, and emails (like ours).

The job hunt is hard enough as is; why make it easier for another candidate to surpass you by not doing something as simple as double checking your work? We learned it in grade school, now apply it to your everyday life!

Below are a few common mistakes we see when reviewing hundreds of resumes per week:

Beware your changes in tenses.

When listing your experience on your resume, you want to make sure that you’re referring to the work that you’ve done in the correct tense. If you’re currently working at ABC firm, you’ll use the present tense of each action. If you previously worked at ABC firm, you’ll use the past tense of each action.

For example, your current employer:

ABC Firm, New York, NY

Contracts Attorney, August 2014-Present

  • Manage and review contracts as needed

  • Provide administrative support to the litigation department

Prior employers:

ABC Firm, New York, NY

Contracts Attorney, August 2014-August 2016

  • Managed and reviewed contracts as needed

  • Provided administrative support to the litigation department

Avoid capitalizing random words.

By nature, we want to capitalize the important parts of our resume that may be relevant to the role, but capitalization should be limited to the first word in a sentence or bullet point, as well as proper nouns (which includes names of people, job titles, cities, courts, or locations).

As a legal professional, it’s helpful to capitalize names of specific acts or abbreviations of associations and/or document types on your resume. For example, if you are a contracts manager you may have experience reviewing software-as-a-service agreements, master service agreements, or non-disclosure agreements, which can be shortened to SaaS agreements, MSAs, or NDAs with the proper use of capital letters.

Avoid writing in all capital letters as this will be misconstrued as shouting, especially in emails.

Run away from run-on sentences.

On your resume, you want to list your experience as to-the-point as possible. Each sentence should begin with an action word that best describes your responsibility such as managed, advised, coordinated, drafted, reviewed,and assisted.

Sentences should be no longer than 2-3 lines long. To avoid run-on sentences, you can separate independent thoughts with a period, semicolon, or conjunction.

Period and comma misuse.

Resumes often contain fragmented incomplete sentences in bulleted lists. It’s best to be consistent with the use of periods throughout -- include or do not include. On the other hand, commas are best used sparingly. When used with several thoughts or items, add one comma following the word “and” as seen below:

In recent news, a Maine labor dispute case hinged on the absence of an Oxford comma. As a result, employers may be increasingly aware of the proper usage of the Oxford comma (especially in the legal field). Make a great first impression by using it correctly in your cover letter and resume.

Similar words, different meanings.

The most common mistakes on resumes are homophone errors, which are two or more words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings or spelling. Avoid confusing these words:

  • Two, To, and Too

  • Then and Than

  • You’re and Your

  • Its and It’s

  • There, Their, and They’re

  • Accept and Except

  • Assure, Ensure, and Insure

Does anyone else have anxiety when hitting “send”?

It’s important to review the content that you’re sending before hitting that dreaded “send” button. Living in a tech age, there are plenty of apps and tools out there to assist you with triple checking your work. Grammarly has a wonderful Chrome extension to assist with proofreading by eliminating grammatical and spelling errors. Grammarly enhances your writing, and also provides plagiarism-detection. There is also the Hemingway App that focuses on enhancing your writing by making it more bold and clear by identifying lengthy, complex sentences, and common errors with the proper use of color.

Don’t lose out on another opportunity by sending your first draft. Taking the extra time to double check your work will distinguish you from the masses of candidates applying to the most desirable jobs.