UAE Jobs: Better grammar, earn 20% more

Beat the increment blues of a mere 5 per cent hike this year. You do have the potential of getting a decent 10 to 20 per cent hike and even a promotion, a windfall that is reminiscent of the boom years.

But this is conditional. No, no, nobody is asking you to do double-shifts, work extra from home or get more revenue for the company you work for.

The clause is, please get your commas and apostrophes in the right place. Yes, it’s your grammar we are talking about. No offence meant, but if you care enough to polish your grammar (both written and verbal), you have the potential to earn more, get promoted and will be taken seriously as a professional.

Recruitment experts in the country believe that grammar cannot replace all other technical skills that a job requires, but if the two go together, it will give a much-needed impetus to your career.

According to Ash Athawale, Recruitment Manager at Reed Consultancy, “grammar will determine/impact about 10-20 per cent of the potential salary of a candidate.”

The potential to earn more may be even greater for roles that need strong grammar skills. “The percentage (the previously quoted 20 per cent) is higher when the role requires strong written skills, such as in the case of technical writers, marketing or internal communication specialists. A company doesn’t want to spend time and effort (which equals to money) teaching a candidate how to structure a grammatically fool-proof sentence,” he adds.

Agrees Graham Whitworth, Senior Banking Consultant at Charterhouse Partnership, and stresses that good grammar is a perquisite to some particular jobs.

“Certain roles require perfect grammar, those such as journalism, PR and legal,” he says.

Experts believe that employers are unlikely to hire somebody with poor grammar and even if they do get selected they will feel marginalized later on during increments and promotion time.

Yes, it is for a reason that psychometric tests are becoming popular these days and grammar is incorporated into them, and as a candidate you are expected to get a decent score to be employable.

“Grammar is without question very important, and employers expect candidates in nearly all professional occupations to have strong communication skills,” explains Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director at Robert Half UAE.

“It may be the deciding factor for hire and would certainly impact any chances of promotion to senior roles within the organisation,” he adds.

Even when an employee’s salary may not be linked directly to his punctuation skills (say, in the case of an accountant) job progression (to perhaps the finance director’s position) does suffer if an employee is not up-to-speed with his grammar.

“Often, salary is not directly affected, although candidates would often be passed over for opportunities by an individual with similar experience but stronger grammar skills,” says El Mettouri. “Poor language competency is easily identified on the CV and initial interview stages, so for those who struggle, it is advisable to undergo additional education and practice to improve abilities,” he adds.

“A badly written sentence in a cover letter or résumé indicates to a potential employer that while you may have the technical skills for the role, you may not have the right communication skills required by the company. That can impact your earning potential,” adds Athawale.

However, not all jobs require the same level of proficiency and in many cases the primary qualifications will be the deciding factor. “Employers understand that English is not always the first language of staff and internal documents are not scrutinised as much. In roles where perfect grammar is required or if English is your first language, it is not that you would get paid less if your grammar is poor but more that you wouldn’t be qualified to perform that role at all,” opines the Charterhouse expert.

For those, who do struggle with their spellings, resorting to easy help from software like Microsoft Word may be a good starting point.

“Careful employees who understand that grammar is a weakness can manage this by utilising Microsoft Word to spell and grammar-check documents before copying text into emails or other forms,” advises Whitworth.

“In today’s age of electronic communication, it is fairly easy to use tools available to check your spellings and your syntax/grammar. If a candidate hasn’t taken the time to fix the composition of a sentence, what are the chances his/her spoken communication will be up to par,” asks the expert at REED.

However, grammar analysis is more complex than just a mere spell check – it is about understanding words and their usage.

Take a course to improve your skills. Good grammar is good business, which translates into better salaries and bigger increments.

Till then, take the time to read, understand and tell the difference between their, there, and they’re before shooting off that e-mail.

(Home page image courtesy Shutterstock)


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