GRAMMARLY RESEARCH: Good Grammar Will Get You The Job

by • July 05, 2013

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The informality of email, texting, and tweeting has crept into company communication–embarrassing management and leaving bad impressions with clients. Kyle Wiens, of iFixit and Dozuki, said in a July 2012 post on the Harvard Business Review blog, “I have a ‘zero tolerance approach’ to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.” He requires job applicants to pass a grammar test before hiring them because writing is his business.

Shouldn’t good grammar be everyone’s business?

According to a follow-up post from Grammarly CEO Brad Hoover, the answer is yes. In the workplace, good grammar is synonymous with attention to detail, critical thinking skills, and intellectual curiosity. Good grammar is the currency of the modern workplace, and employers are going for broke. More than two thirds of salaried jobs require a significant amount of written communication, and top organizations spend upwards of $3 billion per year on training to bring employee writing ability up to a baseline standard.

“Remember the fictional TV lawyer Ed?” asked Grammar Girl. “He lost his job in a Manhattan law firm because of a misplaced comma in a contract. Just in case you think this sort of thing only happens on TV, think again. A utility company in Canada had to pay an extra $2.13 million in 2006 to lease power poles because someone stuck a comma in the wrong spot.”

But what is the actual impact that poor grammar can have on a person’s overall career track?

At Grammarly, we looked at one hundred LinkedIn profiles of native English speakers in the consumer packaged goods industry to determine whether their writing skills could be correlated to their career success.

Here’s what we found:

  • Professionals with fewer grammar errors achieve higher positions. Those who failed to progress to a director-level position over the first ten years of their career made 2.5 times more grammar mistakes than their director-level colleagues.
  • Fewer grammar errors correlate with more promotions. Professionals 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 timeframe.
  • Fewer grammar errors associate with frequent job changes. Those who remained at the same company for more than 10 years made 20 percent more grammar mistakes than those who held six jobs in the same period.

So what can we take away from all of this?

Like Mr. Wiens, Grammarly won’t hire people who use poor grammar. But, we haven’t chosen to do this based on an anecdote.

We don’t hire people who use poor grammar because our data definitively suggests that a lack of grammatical errors in a person’s resume can say a lot about that person, professionally. It can tell us whether they are skillful, credible, and pay attention to detail – and whether these characteristics will reasonably translate into their day-to-day work.

Think you have what it takes to join the grammarians at Grammarly? Take a look at our open positions here, and contact us today.

Image courtesy of Ambro

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