Job Search Writing Style

How Your Writing Style Affects Your Job Search


If you read the hedline of this post and thought it was an intresting article to read. And then you started to read it and it sudenly became clear the auther doesnt appear to understand how to spell or use correct grammer, wood you read it threw till the end? They’re are many conclusions one could jump to about my expertis and personal brand just base on this 1 paragraph, isn’t their?

Okay, that might be a bit exaggerated for the average bad speller, but I have seen worse!

In today’s online world, your ability to spell and use proper grammar and punctuation plays a huge role in building your personal brand – especially if you’re on the job search. Strong writing skills are incredibly important nowadays because writing is one of the main ways we communicate with each other at work. Your writing represents you and is often your first impression to a potential employer. And let’s face it: first impressions are very hard to change!

As a job seeker, the biggest assessment of your written communication skills will typically come into play after you have sent in a resume and cover letter. Why? Most people take great care in ensuring their cover letter and resume are error free. However, a surprising number of people do not. Do not be one of those people – especially when writing out a job application!

Where’s Your Professional Writing Style?

When hiring managers want to set up an interview with you, sometimes they will call you, but other times they might just send you an e-mail asking for some good dates and time for your interview.

I like sending e-mails. Honestly, I prefer to communicate by e-mail so I can assess a candidate’s written communication skills in “real” life. I know many people do not write their own cover letters and resumes so I’d like to see some writing that comes directly from you.

Why are writing skills important? Most office jobs, nowadays, require employees to communicate with their customers /vendors/suppliers via e-mail. Would I want to have a new employee who writes like I did in that first paragraph? What was your first impression of me when you started reading this article?

If you can’t spell or put sentences together properly, people will draw some not-so-great assumptions about you. Sadly, I know some very smart people who can’t spell or write good sentences no matter how hard they try. You must realize, though, potential employers do not know anything about you and will likely assume you do not pay attention to details, or are just lazy. This is a less-than-desirable first impression, isn’t it?

How Your Writing Style Affects Your Job Search: Are You Writing To Your Friend Or To Your Potential Employer?

In addition to proper spelling and grammar, knowing when to be formal or informal with your writing style is key.

When I set up job interviews via e-mail, my last question to the candidate is a variation of “will 2:30 PM Friday work for you?” I typically get two different types of acceptance responses:

  1. “Dear Ms. Simko: Thank you for contacting me. Friday at 2:30 PM will work well for me. I appreciate your interest in me as a candidate and I look forward to meeting you on Friday! Best Regards, Bob.”
  2. “Sounds great! See you then.”

Now, I am not advocating a response like #2 is always inappropriate but when you are communicating with someone for the first time, professionally, (as a job seeker and at a new job) you should always be very professional in your communications – i.e. response #1.

Response #2 won’t kill your chances of getting the job but people who use response #1 will have a definite edge over you.

Less-formal communication styles may build over time as you get to know people better and as you become familiar with what type of communication is preferred in the workplace. But until then, put your best writing style forward!

Do You Have “Writing Samples” Online?

Finally, as we often mention on this blog, employers will likely Google you to learn more about you as a job candidate. Just as important as it is to have a “clean” online appearance, you should make sure that the style of your writing is clean and appropriate as well. If you are a blogger, write published articles online, or you comment in LinkedIn groups, your great content isn’t going to make much of an impression on me if I see your writing style resembles paragraph one of this article.

What I read online from you is considered as a “writing sample” to me. Bad grammar and writing skills will cause me to lose interest in you as a candidate.

If you are not a great master of the English language, I would advise you to find someone who is and have that person Google you and look over the content you have written online. This is a great opportunity for you to gain feedback and clean up your act a bit.

For anyone who wants to improve his/her writing skills, there are many free online courses. This is one example, but there are many others out there if you just Google “free online grammar course.” It really is important you take some time to work on your writing skills if you are weak in this area or are unsure about when to use different communication styles. Excellent writing skills go a long way in building a strong personal brand and executing an efficient job search.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Jessica Simko

Jessica Simko is a senior-level HR Consultant and job search/career strategist. Please feel free to download her FREE report on "The Job Interview Game."


  1. If you have already been working on the net long enough, you will hasve probablly heard about
    short article rewriters. What’s write-up spinning and why do we will need tthese spinners?

  2. I believe what you published made a bunch of sense. But,
    think on this, suppose you added a little content?
    I mean, I don’t want to tell you how to run your website, but what
    if you added a title that grabbed a person’s attention?
    I mean How Your Writing Style Affects Your Job Search | CAREEREALISM is kinda plain.

    You should look at Yahoo’s home page and note how they write post headlines to grab people to open the links.

    You might add a related video or a picture or two to grab
    people excited about everything’ve got to say.
    Just my opinion, it could bring your blog a little livelier.

  3. One would think this is common sense, but it is not. This article was very necessary! From posts on social media sites to applications for jobs, people are making more mistakes than ever before. I believe the majority of this can be attributed to the shorthand society we are currently in where acronyms, slang, and texting are replacing standard English. It is also concerning when you hear people make excuses for their writing skills (or lack thereof) by saying, “oops, I forgot to use spell/grammar check”. Please know that those tools are only as effective as the person utilizing them. Your computer will still allow for a lot of errors to go through. A perfect example of this is the common misuse of homophones (their, they’re, there). We must make a concerted effort to show more attention to detail.

  4. Nikki, I’m proud of you and I don’t even know you! Good for you!! As for ensuring (!) that a document is letter-and-punctuation-perfect, here’s a trick that I learned a long time ago, and it works…

    Read your document BACKWARDS — right to left and from the bottom up. I’m not sure if most people are aware that we don’t read one word at a time, but we don’t, we read phrases. People usually stop reading each word individually by the second grade, once we no longer need to sound words out. For the experienced reader, the eye takes in several words at one time, and this means that you’re bound to miss things — especially if you’ve been looking at the same damned document for so long that you can recite the page by heart.

    Reading from right to left, bottom to top means that you’ll be focusing on each word separately, and on the punctuation as well. It’ll make you feel much more confident about pushing that “send” button…

  5. ecellent advice! I mean excellent advice!

    It really pays to spell check before you post to sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. It’ll only take a minute to complete that little annoying step of copying and pasting your social media posts into a Word document, but those 60 seconds can save you from quiet a few missteps! Quiet right don’t you think?

    Thanks for this informative, yet fun article; I had fun purposefully misspelling a total of two words.

    • I mean three words are spelled wrong; one MUST be careful when it comes to spell check too! I believe you should always seek to have your resume reviewed by at least two people or more. They’ll help catch mistakes, keeping you error free!

  6. I find this interesting because between ages 16-21, I successfully applied to, interviewed with and was hired by 12 different companies. Today, I’m settled in a career as a copywriter.

    I’m not advising anyone to hop around from job to job like I did (though a few times, the jobs overlapped), but I like to think my writing skills are what attracted hiring managers to my resume.

    In all, I’ve never had a problem getting a job. My friends call me “recession proof” lol. Even when I hung out my shingle as a freelance writer, I’d replaced my previous income at a 9-5 within six months.

    So writing skills are definitely a deal breaker. And it’s a shame that more people don’t have good writing. Because I learned everything I needed to make a living in K-12 English classes (for free).

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