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Spell Check is Your Friend – Career Management

I’m reasonably sure I got fired from my college teaching job. Two students went to the Dean to complain about me, and Deans generally don’t like dealing with annoyed students.

What did I do to incense my students to the point of complaint?  I gave them a grammar lesson.

I was teaching a graduate level leadership class. While reading my students’ first papers, I found myself correcting their grammar – for an hour, per paper. I found the papers too hard to read without fixing the grammar.

When I handed the papers back I told my students, “You want to be leaders. Not being able to write will hold your career back more than your leadership abilities. So we’re going to work on writing today.”  Then I reviewed some basic grammar rules. The students who complained said that they weren’t paying to learn how to write. They were paying to learn how to be leaders.

They missed the lesson.

When I screen resumes, I eliminate candidates whose resumes have typos and spelling errors. And many other managers do as well.  A resume is like a first date. You’re working to impress. And as my dad says, it doesn’t get any better than it is at the beginning. If your date behaves badly early on, it will only get worse. If candidates don’t pay attention to their own marketing tool, why would they pay attention to yours?

Some people say that the prevalence of texting and Instant Messenger has changed the standards of what type of writing is acceptable at work.  I disagree.

When clients receive proposals with errors, do they want to hire you? When you send an email or report with grammar errors or typos to the people in your office who can impact your career, do they dismiss the errors or make a mental note that you’re careless? I suspect the latter.

Being successful at work is hard enough. Don’t give people a reason to discredit you.

  • Spell check your work
  • Be succinct. If you can say it in 10 words, eliminate the extra 20 you’ve written.
  • If you are struggling with writing, take a class.

Little things matter.


Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at

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One Response to “Spell Check is Your Friend – Career Management”

  1. Jay Bond says:

    I really liked all this. I have been going above and over the top to mve up but it just seems like I get no where.

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