Little mistakes, big repercussions

“Job seekers are missing out because of blunders such as misspelling, inappropriate email addresses and grammatical errors, according to a (2008) poll.”

According to a blog by The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, “The poll by online recruitment outfit fish4jobs found that three-quarters of employers admit that badly presented and written CVs are more of a turn-off than a candidate showing up late, wearing inappropriate clothes or swearing in an interview.”*

Yet, personally, I’ve found that people still think that if the job is not a writing or editing job–if it’s in computers, for instance–employers will overlook mistakes. I’ve seen this attitude a few times among people who have asked me to help them edit their resumes.

I don’t do this a whole lot anymore, mainly because I don’t want to lie and market myself as someone who can offer good career advice (although I should be; I’ve spent enough time working and looking for work…) But over the years, when friends or acquaintances found out I was an editor, they’d ask me to help them out and read their resumes for them.

I remember one friend right after college. The first thing that jumped out at me on his resume was his “experience” working at the college paper. I had worked at the college paper, so I said, “You never did this; why are you lying about it?” He shrugged. It meant nothing to him; I guess he figured no one would ever check. I was miffed, mainly because I considered my years on the college paper a very important part of my life at school, and he was treating it as a blip of trivia that no one would bother checking. No one probably ever did, and he’s probably making many thousands more than me today.

So I moved on to his misspellings and grammatical mistakes, figuring he’d at least be grateful someone had caught this before he shipped the resume around. Instead, I found myself in a debate with him. He was looking for engineering work, or maybe it was computers, but he was not expected to write on the job. Therefore, spelling something correctly would not matter to potential employers, he argued.

I couldn’t make him change anything, and I left feeling that I’d just wasted a lot of time. In reality, he probably cared a little, since he had asked me to read the document, but he was hoping not to have to change anything before starting his job hunt, and he didn’t want to hear that he’d make mistakes.

I’m sure that experience and personality do go a long way toward winning a job, and are more important than knowing how to spell, in most cases. But if all things are equal between myself and another candidate, I don’t want to be the one losing out because of a typo.

*”… an additional 63 percent (of employers polled) reported seeing inappropriate personal email addresses–for example, and,” the blog added.

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