Is "confer merit" correctly used in the following sentence? The context is a job description, where the employer talks about skills, degrees etc that are not required, but that provide useful qualifications:

"A doctoral degree will confer merit"

Thank you!

1 Answer 1


Grammatically it is correct.

I looked for examples of "confer merit", and it is nearly always used in a religious context:

Traditionally, pilgrims walk the perimeter of the stupa in a clockwise fashion, an action said to confer merit.

So unless you are trying to play with this metaphor, it seems an odd choice of words.

A useful phrase is "is considered advantageous" (This uses the oddly distant passive formation that people prefer for this kind of thing)

The usual way to write this is to have a section for "preferred qualifications"

Required skills

  • Master's degree in a relevant field
  • 3 or more years experience in industry.

Preferred skills

  • Doctoral degree
  • 5 or more years experience in industry.

It is written as a list, not in sentences.

Sometimes "desired skills" is added, for "things that would be great, but we don't mind if you don't have.

  • Thank you so much! Yes, I've googled it and looked in some of the various corpora out there, but I've kinda come to the same conclusion as you... I just wanted to make sure, because I really need something other than "qualifications" (long story). You wouldn't happen to know some other way of saying "is a plus" in a more formal way? Thanks also for the tip about the bullet list – that would've made things sooo much easier, but I can't do anything about that, because I'm just translating an already existing text...
    – Hannah
    Nov 8, 2020 at 12:54
  • Oh! I think I cracked it! I could just write "is considered a merit", couldn't I??
    – Hannah
    Nov 8, 2020 at 13:43
  • 1
    @Hannah No, Is considered a merit does NOT work. We don't talk about a merit, just about merit, as uncountable. You could say considered (to be) meritorious but this sounds strange. It might well be considered advantageous Nov 8, 2020 at 14:04
  • In translation of this kind of thing there is going to be cultural difficulties. You must decide: Are you writing a job description for native speakers of English in the UK or America (in which case you should conform to UK or US standard presentation) or are you writing it in English for use in your culture (in which case you should conform to your local style of presentation) @RonaldSole "advantageous" is good. Stolen!
    – James K
    Nov 8, 2020 at 14:34
  • Thank you @RonaldSole and James K! I think I'll use it all the same, seeing that it seems to be used a LOT in job descriptions (written in English) from all over the world – not least in my own country (which is where the text is to be used). It's truly annoying that native speakers will find it unidiomatic, but that's global English for you ;)
    – Hannah
    Nov 8, 2020 at 16:56

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