Young businessman with laptop

How your grammar skills affect your salary

Peter Harris|

Want to get ahead at work? Take a little extra time to formulate grammatically correct sentences and carefully proofread everything you write. How important are the minor details of word usage and punctuation? A report put out by Grammarly earlier this month shows that people who use proper grammar advance further and faster in their careers.

For this study, they analysed the LinkedIn profiles of native English speaking professionals, and compared their language skills with their career trajectories over a ten year period. Their findings are telling.

People with poor grammar skills don’t rise to the top. Those who had not reached a director-level position in the first 10 years of their working lives made 2.5 times as many grammatical mistakes as people who earned director-level titles or higher.

The professionals who made fewer grammatical mistakes were promoted more often and changed jobs more frequently than did their more error-prone contemporaries.

Beyond just getting promoted and moving up the ladder, using proper grammar can be critical to getting hired at all. One of the easiest ways to sink your candidacy for a position is to have typos or spelling mistakes in your resume. Hiring managers interpret such errors as signs of carelessness, laziness, or a lack of language skills on the job seeker’s part. If you can’t take the time to produce an error-free document when you’re trying to get hired in the first place, how will you perform on the job?

Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit recently wrote in the Harvard Business Review that he flat out won’t hire someone who uses poor grammar – even for a programming role that doesn’t require writing for the public. He explains, “On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right? Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s,” then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with.”

There are some fairly obvious reasons why the proper use of grammar would be associated with greater career success. First off, taking the time to formulate proper sentences and carefully proofread your work shows an attention to detail. People who care about producing quality, error-free work generally get promoted above people who don’t.

Having proper grammar skills can often be an indication that someone has a greater level of education, which in many fields still coincides with higher positions.

When I mentioned that I was writing about this, my coworker Christina, a professional editor, became quite passionate about the proper use of “your” (belonging to you) and “you’re” (you are.) Apparently she is ‘driven batty’ when her friends who are native English speakers get this one wrong.

With style guides, dictionaries and numerous grammar-related websites readily available online, there’s really no excuse anymore for some of the classic grammatical errors. If you don’t know whether to use “affect” or “effect,” “who” or “whom,” or “fewer” or “less,” just look it up.

For help with the most common mistakes that trip people up, here’s an infographic detailing 15 grammar goofs that can make you look silly.

How about you? Do you have a particular language usage error that drives you crazy? Do you think it’s fair that people with better grammar skills advance faster at work? Please, share your opinion with us.

Source: Forbes, Report: How Grammar Influences Your Income


- Peter Harris

Peter Harris on Twitter

Category: Life At Work,
  • Robin Babu

    I don’t think people should be judge form their grammatical mistakes,
    because there is no relationship between workmanship and grammar

  • Jilu Elizabeth Mathew

    I find this article very interesting. I always have a problem with subject verb agreement and I always make mistakes while writing or speaking. If people who use proper grammer advance further and faster in their careers, why should n’t I take some initiatives for further delevlopment of my grammer skills?

  • Robi paul

    yes, it is fair that the people with better grammar skills advance further beacuse they have good grammar sppech. it will lead them to more opportunities and it will help them to carryout the positions in the industries or componies. i am not good in grammer. i have taken a course and sure that it will help to improve my grammar and writting skills
    Solomon Anthony Ojemeh and Robi Paul

  • Antochan Illickal

    as a secondary english learner this article help me a lot to find the imprtance of grammar in job. proper usage of language will give confidence in your interview.

  • San Kurian Sajan

    according to me i think people don’t think about grammar mistake because creativity and grammar have no relationship.

  • Deepti Sjl

    yes, sometimes my own english drives me crazy as we have to speak in the fluency so sometimes, it seems to be hard. according to my point of view i dont think its fare that people with better grammar skills advance faster at work, yes i agree that grammar skill plays a vital role at work place but what about those who are learning their skills and want to gain more expierence. proper grammar skills dosent show the intelligence of a person,his talent and the way he works in the workplace.

  • Mehul Jagawat

    I don’t have a particluar language usage error that drives me crazy. Yes, people with better grammar skills advance faster at work because, it provides a surface that cuts all the curves.
    Mehul !!!

  • Nikhila Babu

    Yes, in my opinion I think people with better grammer skills advance faster at works. Proper usage of grammar helps one to achieve success in career life. Spelling mistakes and grammar mistakes show carelessness and laziness.

  • Preethi Muddukrishna

    Poor grammar skills simply allows the employer to think of you as a lazy and careless inividual with bad language skills. I personally do think it’s fair for people with better grammar skills to advance faster at work as it creats a more professional impression and maintains a comfortable atmosphere at your work place.
    The one gramatical error in my opinion that is very annoying is the misusage of the words “effect” and “affect”.
    Preethi & Vijeth

  • asha joseph

    yes,in my opinion it is good to have good grammatical skills to succeed in ones life as it is essential for us to rise up in our career life . poor grammatical skills show that your careless and lazy.

  • Manthan Sunil Bhayani

    I think it’s not fair that people with better grammar skills
    advance faster at work because not all people can be generalized or evaluated
    evenly, people who have Dyslexia, Learning Disability, Dysgraphia and many
    other problems which cannot be cured, tend to make grammatical errors which
    even when proofread over and over again will not change few rudimentary
    mistakes because they are not able to relies the mistake. People like these may
    be excellent or for that matter scholars in their particular skills, but they
    do not get the opportunity to showcase their talents because someone else who
    is excellent at grammar but not skilled compared to the one who had grammatical
    mistakes get hired in context to this article.

  • Pavin Jacob

    It is a fact that professionally curious employees will advance faster than others. Grammer skills can be a key to create a first impression on the recruiters as they review the resume before face to face interview. Perfect grammer can also be a driving force for the employer to select one from a pool of employees.

  • Nikhil Khedkar

    I personally don’t commit any language usage error that drives me crazy, but I come across people who make that error, and as someone who’s part of the same conversation it sometimes bothers me that I lose track of the thought process due to the distraction. That being said, I wouldn’t go to the extend of deeming it as ‘drives me crazy’ level of errors.

    In my opinion it completely depends on the job profile and the company in question to decide if people with better grammar skills should advance faster than the ones with weaker grammar skills.
    Then again, there are job-profiles out there that require one to have strong communication and inter-personal skills, as well as strong etiquettes and social behaviour skills, these jobs are definitely the ones where someone with better grammar skills would advancing faster would be a ‘fair’ deal.

  • kingsley Ezennaya

    Sometimes people who make grammatical errors also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing but nonetheless grammar is not indicative of intelligence or attention to detail but rather a product of one’s education and upbringing.
    For many professions, grammar is not an essential skill e.g skilled jobs

  • Ragesh Jose

    Grammaar skills are the key elements in professional communication which helps to improve your professional way of communication