Did you breathe a sigh of relief when you entered the business world, feeling happily liberated from the higher-ups who would scrutinize your writing? Surely, no one in the “real world” is as picky as that English teacher who has read the dictionary for pleasure or the history instructor who dropped your grade just because of a minor misspelling or two.
If you’ve gotten cozy with that notion, you might want to rethink your position. There are those of us out here who know the difference between “its” and “it’s,” the danger of misplaced modifiers and when to use that most vexing of punctuation marks, the semi-colon. Not only that, but we might happen to be the ones scrutinizing your next resume, cover letter, contract or business proposal.
In the real world, even the most stellar ideas are diminished by writing mistakes. You can’t help but lose credibility with decision makers who know what’s right and what isn’t. The problem is you never know who they are or the context in which they will be reading your business writing. The bottom line is, you have to be correct all the time.
I recently saw that principle in action. My husband was helping an organization recruit and hire a new top executive. One candidate had an excellent resume – and a cover letter with a couple of misspellings. While the errors won’t necessarily be the deal breaker for this job seeker, they have relegated his resume to the B pile. After all, does this organization really want to put their reputation in the hands of a top dog who doesn’t worry about mistakes in important documents? Are they willing to risk their credibility?
Everyone with aspirations to success (e.g., landing a job, earning a promotion, gaining clients, acquiring grant funding or almost any other competitive venture) needs to master the basic rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar. Take a class in business writing. Find a knowledgeable friend or co-worker to copyedit and proofread.
Invest in – and use – a grammar guide and dictionary, or find these resources online. Refresh what you learned in school by signing up for blogs such as this one that provide digestible tidbits for improving your business communications.
Or take the pressure off yourself and hire Rastikis Ink to help you get it right.
Mistake-ridden writing sabotages your success. Your competitors know this. You should too.
'In the Margin’ is the Rastikis Ink blog featuring tips for business writers, copywriters, bloggers and anyone else who wants to write well.