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Harvard Business Review: I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.

Harvard Business Review: I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.

An English professor friend of mine posted this on Facebook, and it struck a chord with me. While I will never claim to be an expert grammarian (even though I did very well in my Professional and Technical Editing class in grad school), I have to admit I’m a bit of a stickler for good grammar as well. I suppose because some of the basics come so easily to me, I don’t understand why they don’t for others. I’m always surprised to see people who are pursuing Master’s degrees in technical writing have such poor grammar. Okay, not everyone, but a good portion of them. How did they get through high school and college and still not have some of these basics down as described in the article above? I don’t understand that concept. The whole essence of being a technical writer, to me, is being that precise and picky when writing or editing content. If words are not crafted in a particular way, their meanings or messages are lost or misconstrued, and that can be disasterous.  I happen to know that the part-time job I have at an academic publishing house was originally gained because I was the only one who actually sent a cover letter that was written in a grammatically correct way.

This article truly speaks to me, and it’s why I try to work very hard at being as detail oriented as I can be, because it’s the difference between getting a job and keeping a job.


Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who currently employed at Cox Automotive, Inc., and freelances as her own technical communications consultancy, Dair Communications. She has worked at the International Refugee Committee, MetLife, Novo Nordisk, BASF North America, Merck, and Deloitte, with a background in content strategy, web content management, social media, project management, e-learning, and client services. Danielle is best known in the technical communications world for her blog,, which has continued to flourish since it was launched during her graduate studies at NJIT in 2012. She has presented webinars and seminars for Adobe, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE ProComm, TCUK (ISTC) and at Drexel University’s eLearning Conference. She has written articles for the STC Intercom, STC Notebook, the Content Rules blog, and The Content Wrangler as well. She is very active in the STC, as a former chapter president for the STC-Philadelphia Metro Chapter, and is currently serving on three STC Board committees. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn at, on Twitter @techcommgeekmom, or through her blog. All content is the owner's opinions, and does not reflect those of her employers past or present.

5 thoughts on “Harvard Business Review: I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.

  1. It’s shocking how many people who have bachelor’s and master’s degrees who have little or no knowledge of grammar. I once taught a writing class to college grads who were transitioning into writing — including technical writing — and had a request from one student with a master’s in English for a review of the parts of speech because she was unsure of the difference between nouns and pronouns and adverbs and adjectives.

    1. I hear ‘ya, Laura. When it came to grammar lessons, my school was “old school” that way, and I still have nightmares of third grade classwork and homework putting the commas in the correct place in a sentence. Hey, it stuck with me at least!

  2. I laughed out loud when I read “disasterous”, thinking you were being ironic. But now I’m not sure…

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