I admit it, I am a grammar geek. That’s because I love to read, love to write, and believe that the rules of grammar exist so that we can communicate clearly.
Tiny omissions, errors, and structural problems can entirely alter the meaning of a sentence. For example, there’s a very big difference between:
“I had twenty-odd people to feed.” [Meaning: A few more than twenty people.]
“I had twenty odd people to feed.” [Meaning: Twenty people who are odd!]
Thanks to Connie Shultz for that good example and a good chuckle from her Christmas essay in Parade magazine!
So, when writing important documents like your resume, LinkedIn profile, executive bio, cover letters, and business correspondence, take the time to carefully review what you’ve written so that you are not making careless mistakes that may distort your meaning or create a negative impression.
In addition to the missing hyphens (that really do make a difference!), another problem I often see is overly complicated sentences. If your sentence requires numerous commas, several parenthetical phrases, and multiple clauses, there’s a good chance your reader will lose the thread before reaching the end. Simplify!
Denzel Washington, as attorney Joe Miller in the film Philadelphia, kept urging witnesses to:
“Explain it to me like I’m a four-year-old.”
Simplifying is not dumbing down. Rather, it’s improving the meaning and impact by removing obstacles to understanding.