Commonly Misspelled Words on Government Job Applications

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How many times have you slapped yourself on the forehead after sending an email or turning in a document that has ridiculous spelling errors in it? You feel stupid, right? Do not give yourself the opportunity to experience that “what was I thinking?” moment after you turn in a job application.

Turning in an application with spelling and grammar mistakes is one of the biggest mistakes that will get your job application thrown away.

Make sure you avoid misspelling these commonly misspelled words on government job applications.


Government is a commonly misspelled word because many people do not pronounce the first n. When you say the root word govern, the n sound is heard, but when the -ment is added, some people pronounce the first n while others do not.

The word government is likely to appear on the application form, so there is really no excuse for misspelling it. The fact that it appears on the form should help applicants spell it correctly. That is great for the application form, but cover letters and resumes do not have this built-in alert.

If you can’t even spell government, why should a hiring manager consider you for a government job?


Public is not a difficult word to spell. The problem comes with typing it.

Accidentally leaving out the l can make a cover letter read like a risque mad lib instead of a serious business document.

Saying you hold a master of public administration degree is very different than saying you have a master of :pubic" administration. There are too many dirty jokes to even start making fun of that mistake. Don’t turn your cover letter into a locker room joke.

Many spell check tools do not catch this error.

Most word processing programs will not tell you that it is misspelled because it is a legitimate word. Some programs will warn you, but their defaults will not automatically change pubic to public. You could imagine someone who frequently writes about anatomy would get frustrated fairly quickly if word processors made this change without alerting the user.


Like public, a common misspelling of manage is an actual word. You can manage people and projects, but you do not mange them. Mange is not even something you do. A word processor’s grammar check tool may pick up on this mistake because the words manage and mange are different parts of speech. Manage is a verb, and mange is a noun.

Be careful with variants of manage. You don’t hear the word manger much outside of the Christmas season, so make sure you don’t call yourself a manger when you’re really a manager.


Personnel is an odd-looking word if you’re not familiar with it. Two n’s and one l make the word look too long in the middle and cut short at the end. It may be helpful to remember that the second syllable ends with an n, and the third syllable begins with an n. If you say personnel slowly and deliberately, you can hear both n’s distinctly.


Liaison is a strange-looking word even if you use it on a daily basis. The a flanked by an i on each side is a rarity in English words. Liaison is derived from a French word.

When the correct spelling looks like a misspelling, it can be difficult to know when you have spelled a word correctly. Liaison is one of those words where no way you spell it looks right. Even if all the words in your application are easy to spell, you should run your application materials through a spell check anyway. The word liaison amplifies this point.


C’s and s’s sound very similar, so a word that employs both can be tricky. Since many government agencies perform licensing activities, it is important to know how to spell license and its variants. Remember that the c comes before the s just like it does in the alphabet.