What’s the #1 thing that employers in the Middle East look for when hiring?
Good communication skills in Arabic and English.
The truth is, whether you’re applying for a position that requires a lot of writing or not, employers do care about how well you communicate. After all, you’ll be an essential part of the image of any organization you work for, and who wants their brand to sound like a 4th grader?
The good news is that it isn’t impossible to improve your communication skills, especially your written communication. You just need to learn a few grammar tricks, and proofread, proofread, proofread.
Here are some common English grammar mistakes that you can easily avoid. We’ve put them in images to make it easy for you to save, learn, and ensure that your CV, cover letter, and work emails are free of these mistakes.
1. They’re vs. Their vs. There
With a little mindfulness, it is really easy to distinguish between these three words, because they have different meanings. “They’re” is a contraction for “they are”, “their” refers to something that is owned by a group, and “there” refers to a location. When in doubt, put it in a sentence. For example:
“There’s no place like a great work environment.”
In the sentence above, “there’s” is correct because the sentence can be switched to “There is no place like a great work environment.” On the other hand, you can’t say “”You can find the papers there is“, so it is “You can find the papers there“.
An easy way to differentiate between “there” are “their” is that that “there” is the opposite of “here“, which obviously represents location.
2. It’s vs. Its
Another easy one. “It’s” is a contraction for “it is” or “it has”, while “its” refers to something that is owned.
“It’s is really easy to have great grammar by just focusing.”
“Its success as an organization really depends on its brand image.”
As with the first rule, when in doubt, try to replace the words with “it is” or “it has” and see if the sentence makes any sense. If it doesn’t, you don’t need an apostrophe.
“It has success as an organization really depends on it is brand image.”
3. You’re vs. Your
Hopefully, you’re getting a hang of this by now. As in the previous two mistakes, “your” refers to something that you own, while “you’re” is a contraction for “you are”.
In the example below, you can’t say “What’s you are email address?” so you don’t need an apostrophe.
4. Adding a Space After Your Punctuation Marks
Correct spacing is very important in ensuring that your writing is clear and easy to read. A single spaces should come between words and right after punctuation. We see a lot of people adding an extra space before punctuation, and that is incorrect.
5. Who vs. Whom
This rule has a very simple trick. Simply ask yourself if the answer would be “he” or “him”. If it’s either “he” or “she,” then it’s “who;” if it’s “him” or “her,” then it’s “whom.”
“Who are you going to interview tomorrow?”
I will interview him.
On the other hand:
“To whom it may concern.”
Does it concern he? No. Does it concern him? Yes.
6. Don’t Say “Dears”. Ever.
This is a really common mistake that we see a lot in the Middle East.
Trust us on this, though. When sending an email to more than one person, is is absolutely incorrect to start the email with “Dears” or “Hi Dears”. In fact, in your professional life, you should avoid referring to people as “Dear”. The only exception to the rule is when writing a very formal email, where it is acceptable to say “Dear Mr. Tamimi,” in the salutation — that is, the very first line and no more.
7. Use One Exclamation Mark a Day
While excitement goes a long way, exclamation marks are often not the best way to express excitement, because they generally signify yelling. Using descriptive adjectives is in fact a much better way to show excitement and support. Try to limit your use of exclamation marks to only one per day. Hubspot made this really wonderful flowchart that can help.
By Roba Assi
This article originally appeared in Bayt.com.
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