In a word, yes, and it is worth making the effort. Picture an employer faced with a pile of job applications. At first glance they are very similar – all the student applicants have relevant skills and good grades. So who makes the shortlist and who gets cut short?

Upon closer inspection, the culling becomes easier. While reading through the applications, the employer finds herself tripping over typos, stumbling over sentences and grappling with defective grammar.

Every year employers tell us that this is one of the biggest turn-offs and rightly so. Spelling and grammatical errors are distracting and convey sloppiness, lack of attention to detail and laziness. Not qualities that are going to enhance your employability.

As a job seeking student, you are constantly being evaluated by how you present yourself in writing. Your CV is often the first impression a potential employer forms of you so make it a good one. A surefire way to the bottom of the pile is to submit a CV, cover letter or online application that contains mistakes.

Mistakes are easy to make. But it’s better to spend a bit of time checking now than suffering the consequences later. The US government discovered this recently when a simple spelling error brought down the much vaunted Obamacare health insurance website. In an attempt at damage control, the White House launched a marketing campaign with Barack Obama holding up signs. One of them said, ‘Get covered because it’ll give your mom piece of mind.’ People certainly gave them a piece of their minds on Twitter.

Should it really matter? We could just laugh and move on but like the CV, it’s all about perception. I have been known to pick up a book, spot a typo in the blurb and promptly put it back on the shelf. My assumption is the book will be riddled with mistakes. It is the same with emails and websites. Online communication is largely done with words and people confronted with lax grammar will query the writer’s or company’s authenticity, credibility and capability.

It is true that in this digital age of texts and tweets it has become more acceptable to communicate in a casual and abbreviated way. However, think about who you are writing for. If it is for an audience outside of your friends and family, take pride in your work and proofread. More than once. Correct spelling and grammar aids clarity, meaning and shows you care. If these are not your strong points, remember that a spellchecker will pick up the typos but don’t rely on it for sense and grammar. Get someone else to read it for sense and check out the grammar tips at

At Victoria, Vic Careers offers students CV and cover checks during drop-in times. Watch out for my next blog on how to proofread!


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Hi Heather,

    Couldn’t agree more with your article. Why let sloppy spelling get in the way of getting that dream job?

    I’m in Australia, but quite a few people from New Zealand in the past have used my work. An additional problem is the tool we primarily use. Microsoft Office contains multiple spelling variations for thousands of words which many universities and employers consider to be American spelling. Words such as those containing ‘ize’.

    I provide add-ins for Microsoft Office, but it is pretty hard for people to realise it is often the tool they’re using that may also be causing them issues. It took me nearly 20 twenty years of using Word before I realised there was an issue and I had the ability to provide a solution.

    In my opinion your article is offering great advice. Keep up the good work.

    Kelvin Eldridge



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CVs, Job application, Opinion


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