I teach a Management 100 class at American Military University called Human Relations. In this class, we talk about some hiring actions and first impressions. In today’s computer-based world, that first impression of a person or company is often online.
Proper grammar shapes that first impression. We would never go to a job interview with our shoes untied. So why would people think poor grammar is not a faux pas, too?
Good Grammar Reveals Company Credibility and Employees’ Learning Capabilities
In my class, I share Kyle Wiens’ Harvard Business Review article, “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.”
Wiens is the CEO of iFixit, the world’s largest online repair manual publisher. He is also the founder of Dozuki, which helps companies write their own technical documentation such as paperless work instructions and step-by-step user manuals.
Wiens is a self-described grammar stickler who hires many writers and software code writers. Anyone applying for a job at one of his companies is required to take a grammar test.
“Good grammar is credibility, especially on the Internet. In blog posts, on Facebook, in emails, and on company websites, your words are all you have,” Wiens says. We represent our employers both on and off duty, he explains. When our social media is a grammatical disaster, it also reflects on the company owner who hired you.
Wiens makes an interesting point: If a 20-year-old person applies for a job and does not know how to use proper grammar, that person’s learning curve and capability make him or her a poor candidate for hiring.
Wiens believes everyone should have learned English grammar in 20 years. He will not hire even great programmers who cannot pass the grammar test. From experience, he has found that they will fail on other tasks, even simple tasks like stocking shelves and labeling parts.
A focus on grammar shows a focus on all tasks, he says.
Writing Well Also Makes A Difference in Hiring Success
I published a book this past January on getting a job in the federal government. Like Wiens, I too focused on the need to make a good first impression in an applicant’s resume. Writing well shows your capabilities and your dependability.
Writing is like learning a foreign language. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
About the Author
James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.
Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 45th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 “Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”