With the job market being as tight as it is, the slightest mistake can cost you your dream position. According to a recent Careerbuilder survey 61% of hiring managers would automatically dismiss a candidate if they spot a typo, which makes spelling mistakes the no. 1 reason for instant rejections. The runners up consist of copying wording from the job ad, and innapropriate email addresses.
The ruling principle seems to be that if a candidate doesn’t care enough about spelling they won’t care about their job responsibilities, but is this really true?
Valid pre-screening method?
With hundreds of resumes to read through every day, recruiters need effective systems to draw up with shortlist of candidates to interview. However, not everyone plays fair – There are running anecdotes about hiring managers throwing random resumes in the trash on the premise that “I don’t want to work with unlucky people” (at least landing in the bin because of a typo may not be the worse that can happen after all).
Spellcheck is usually the first hurdle that a resume will encounter. Once a recruiter opens the document, the text editor will put up the red flags. If there are mistakes, it’s definitive and the resume goes in the trash. But should typos really be the basic criteria for shrinking that pile of applications?
Lets look at the figures
Let’s go back to the study mentioned in the beginning. The same set of data revealed that 20% of hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds reviewing a single resume and the next 40% give up in under a minute.
The average CV consists of at least two pages, so for someone reading roughly one a minute the chance of spotting typos seems virtually impossible. However, what the survey shows is that sixty percent hiring managers practicing typo-dismissing whilst spending under a minute per resume.
So who is doing the decisive proofing? A hiring manager if you’re lucky. If the position required an acute attention to detail, chances are that the person who is reviewing you application has it (Lets hope we can trust the accountants to know where their commas should be).
Considering a resume with a typo
Maybe there are a few more factors to consider before binning that CV. First of all, how obvious is the mistake? Are there a lot of them? Is the resume otherwise well structured? If the mistakes only add up to the overall chaos it’s no wonder if the resume lands in the bin. However an overall well-written resume might be worth giving a chance.
Sometimes, an applicant may have been tripped up by their autocorrect – it can happen. Finally, the most important concern is what would the consequences be, if the applicant made a similar error on the job. It may well be that the candidate with the mini typo might end up being the perfect candidate for the job.
The bigger picture
Surely what is more detrimental on a resume in the long run is bad grammar, copy-paste job descriptions, worn out catch phrases, jargon and bad ideas. Spelling and communication skills are often used to rule people out, however well-rounded ideas will be dismissed on a typo yet empty jargon still makes the grade.
Beware of your spelling
As far as the jobseekers are concerned, the answer to ‘should we care about minor typos in resumes?’ is, in short, yes.
Change fonts, read backwards, send it to a friend – because if you leave any typos, six in ten employees will look no further. Employers are 60% more likely to focus on your qualifications if they don’t have to get past grammar and spelling issues first.
As for the recruiters…
Is spellcheck really the best pre-screening method? There are so many more elements to consider, an effective selection process should assess the candidate on levels other than formatting alone.
It’s easy to shrink the pile of resumes based on whether they’re typed out perfectly or not- but before dismissing the candidate altogether it might be worth considering the applicant’s fit more broadly. Make sure your selection process picks out what is best, not necessarily what is easiest. How are you dealing with flawed applications? We would love to hear your thoughts!
Photo credit: Flickr Daniel Greis