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Your Writing Stinks and It’s Costing You Money

August 4, 2017  Min to Reads

What do your emails say about you? What image does your resume convey to others? Are hiring managers overlooking you? Are coworkers and organizational leaders paying attention to you or dismissing you? You may not realize it, but your bad writing habits may be costing you money and opportunity. Your writing stinks. Do you want to fix it? Then read on…

I recently helped a friend work on his resume, and he has an impressive one. His work experience is vast and deep, but he worried that it wasn’t getting attention. His grammar and spelling are impeccable – no issues there. So we worked on it from a different perspective – readability and resume screener friendliness. During my research on resume screeners, I learned something.


The Cursed Resume Screener

But first, what is a resume screener? There are different types: Human and Automated. The automated screener is our focus here. It’s a computer program that scans your resume. The purpose of the scan is to search for indicators that you have the desired skills, experience, and education. It makes this determination through the use of keywords and phrases. Someone types keywords and phrases that relate to the job into the software. The screener looks for those keywords and phrases in your resume. If it finds a high enough percentage then it pushes your resume to HR or the Hiring Manager.

Because these screeners exist job hunters spend lots of time trying to game the system. They read the job description and try to guess what key words the screener is looking for. Then, they look for creative ways to fill their resume with keywords. Not a totally bad strategy, but it is flawed. Here’s why…

Your Writing Stinks

While researching strategies to beat the resume screener, I read a blog post comment from a hiring manager. As a hiring manager myself, the comment resonated. The manager said even if you get past the screener, your resume will hit the trash bin if your writing stinks. His rationale goes like this:

  • You want to work for me
  • Your resume is your first introduction
  • Your resume tells me about your attention to detail
  • Your resume tells me about your professionalism
  • Your resume tells me how much you care about your career

The question is, “If your resume has grammar and spelling errors or is poorly formatted, why should we expect anything different from your work effort?

You are gambling on whether you can beat the screener, and you are likely making your writing worse. Imagine a well-formatted resume free of grammar and spelling errors. Now imagine the attempt to sneak keywords and phrases into it. You will screw up sentence structure and insert grammatical errors and create lines that sound unnatural, contrived, and silly. Why screw up a good resume on a gamble?

Tips for Writing a Solid Resume

  • Respect the reader’s time and be brief
  • Don’t unnecessarily and purposelessly use so many freaking, unnecessary, overused, meaningless, and confusing adverbs and adjectives. (See what I did there?)
  • Don’t use too many adverbs and adjectives. (Ah, that was nice!)
  • Use bullet points – lists are your friend
  • Use tools like Grammarly and Hemingway to check your writing
  • Have a few smart friends proof read your resume

By the way, use these same tips to improve your emails, and people will start taking you seriously. Don’t and you won’t get promoted, you won’t sell your products, and you won’t be happy at work! You think I’m kidding? I’m not. If you can’t get promoted because your writing stinks, you won’t be happy. If you can’t sell your products because your writing stinks, you won’t have a job, and you won’t be happy.

Happy Writing!


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