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Can Improving Your Grammar Lead to a Promotion?

by | Mar 12, 2013 | Grammar | 0 comments


I recently had the chance to read an article penned by Grammarly CEO Brad Hoover.  Writing to mark National Grammar Day on March 4, Hoover comments on the lack of attention given to grammar in the workplace.  He highlights that professionals who actually do pay attention to the rules taught in elementary English class prove to outperform and eclipse their colleagues in areas related to professional development, and are more likely to receive promotions and merit-based pay increases than the “bad grammar” group.

The fact that attention to grammar has seemingly declined amongst the masses is not novel news.  Considering the fact that everyone works on the fly—hammering out a quick email while waiting in line at the grocery store, sending a text before a meeting starts—the informality that has snuck into our language has permeated every facet of our existence.

Even within my own business, I often receive emails from business partners and clients that leave me no choice but to pick up the phone and call them, if only to make sure I got the message right and didn’t decipher their email incorrectly.  Now, I’m not judging, there is a reason why individuals come to my business for help and I welcome them.  However, there is a point where I do judge and I know I am not alone.

The article profiles Kyle Wiens, CEO of Fixit, who wrote in a blog post that he absolutely “refuses to hire people who use poor grammar.”  Called everything from an elitist to a mean businessperson, I have to say that I agree with Wiens, especially given the fact that I have experienced numerous grammar faux pas from individuals who apply to my company to fill a writing and editing position.

No joke! I just finished a round of hiring where I received cover letters addressed to the CEO of “Grammer Chic, Inc.”  and resumes completely littered with typos, bad punctuation, etc.  You know where those resumes go?  Directly in File 13.  While some hiring managers might take to the Internet to do a bit of checking in order to sift through a pile of resumes, all that I have to do is separate the resumes that are grammatically correct and proofread from the rest.  Think of it as thinning the herd via the rules of grammar.

I think this alone speaks to the fact that bad grammar can hurt your career.  But you don’t have to be applying for a position at a professional writing company for this grammar faux pas to hurt you.  Hoover takes his study a step further and explains the following:

  • “Grammarly reviewed 100 LinkedIn profiles of native English-speakers in the consumer packaged goods industry.  Each professional had worked for no more than three employers over the first 10 years of his or her career.  Half were promoted to director level or above within those 10 years, the other half were not.”
  • Of that group, Hoover and his team found that individuals who had fewer grammar errors in their profile rose to higher positions.  For instance, individuals with one to four promotions “over their 10 year careers made 45 percent more grammar errors than those with six to nine promotions in the same time frame.”

Interesting stuff, huh?  I realize that this is just one sample and a small one at that, but it leads me to believe that there is something tied to the idea that professional success is had when attention to detail is delivered.  Moreover, hiring managers note that individuals who display correct grammar in written and verbal communication also tend to excel in critical thinking and score higher on intellectual aptitude tests, making them more likely job candidates.

Now, I’m not making the claim that if you mess up it’s or its that it’s the end of your career, but I am saying many companies do consider the whole package.  For instance, the professional who dresses sharp and shows up on time loses all of their credibility if they open their mouth at a board meeting and do not have the ability to speak properly.  The same could be said for the professional who sends an email to a prospective client that is rife with spelling errors and lack of capitalization.  This is something that people notice and call upon when making hiring, promotion and business decisions.  So I encourage you, if you feel that you are constantly being looked over at work or can’t score the interviews that you really want in your job search, don’t blame it on the economy.  Take a step back and consider your grammar.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.