Glass Houses

Not too long ago, someone asked me a question about spelling errors on resumes and cover letters, and how I felt about them when I was looking at a resume from a sourcing perspective. I’m going to be more forgiving of someone out of school a couple of years than a senior industry candidate.

If I’m reading a cover letter, I’m probably a bit more forgiving about spelling errors. I’ll give you one pass, especially if it is a homonym like “there” or “their”. On a resume, some things are a bit more ambiguous. For example, I’m in IT recruiting, and the spelling for Unix or UNIX has changed over the years. Same with Xbox or XBOX. I don’t care very much. However, I was looking at the resume of a former employee a few weeks ago, and he spelled the company wrong. That is unforgivable. (He is also active on several of the social networking sites I am on and is a deplorable speller…*hello*…spell check…) I’m also not very forgiving of industry terms and titles used incorrectly or misspelled.

I don’t care all that much about spacing and grammar, as long as you are fairly consistent. (i.e. if you are using bullet points and capitalize the first word but don’t use a period at the end, no big deal, but keep the same format throughout)

We are human; spell check doesn’t catch every error, and there *are* some mistakes that humans tend to gloss over, even if we have it read by one or two people. But when it comes to job descriptions or candidate communications, I must say I am a stickler for perfection. So imagine my surprise this week as I was looking at external job sites and candidate communication templates with major errors on them. This week’s offenders:

  • P&L Analist
  • WIndows (on the MSFT external career page!)
  • “This person’s primary responsibly will be to …” (From a candidate phone screen confirmation).

OK folks, these are stupid errors! They are singularly unprofessional. I know a lot of recruiters that are much less tolerant and lenient than yours truly when it comes to spelling on resumes and cover letters. We seem to be living in glass houses here if the above stated examples are any indication of what’s going on.

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So, are we dealing with a problem with tools? Is it human error? Or something else?

Last month I wrote a post over on ERE titled ‘“App For That” Erosion‘. I hypothesized that technology is making younger professionals unable to function in a business environment, that they don’t have the basic skills to perform at the high level that their older colleagues do. And I assert that this sloppy spelling is also a symptom of not learning the basics, including proofreading with human eyes and doublechecking the end result before it gets published onto a public-facing website. There is simply no excuse for using a job posting template with mistakes in it.

Until we are literally “letter perfect” on our own publications, I say we keep our stones on the ground.

Kristen Fife is a senior technical recruiter in the greater Seattle area. She has been in recruiting since 2004, starting as contract Researcher for the Microsoft Strategic Recruiting Group before moving into full lifecycle agency recruiting for Volt Technical Services. Her move into corporate recruiting started with both sourcing and full lifecycle contract roles at Microsoft (including MSFT Research, Legal, and various product groups). In addition to Microsoft, Kristen worked for 3 years for RealNetworks/GameHouse as the Senior Technical Recruiter and Sourcing Specialist; at the University of Washington/Harborview Medical Centers as a Sourcer, as well as smaller companies such as Varolii (now part of Nuance Communications), Covestic, and bSquare. Currently she is an RPO Senior Technical Recruiter, she sits on the Leadership Team for Sourcing7, and is a regular presenter, trainer, panelist, and speaker in the Seattle area for recruiting forums and job seekers. She has been a regular contributor to the Seattle Times, including an employment topic column, regular blog, and the NWJobs Hire Wire newsletter for the local recruiting industry. Her blog for job seekers receives several thousand hits a week. She has been quoted in several publications including ABCNews, AOL, the Seattle Times, and The Wall Street Journal.


1 Comment on “Glass Houses

  1. Indeed.

    In my experience, some of the most picky recruiters are also the least aware of their own spelling and grammar issues. I think if they were, they might be more forgiving but awareness is as much of the problem as the actual errors.

    I also think that when people hearken back to days of ole when everyone was professional and spelled everything perfectly, even if it meant cracking open a dictionary in the pre-computer age, they are remembering incorrectly. At a former job, I was going through decades old documents and guess what? Error rates as much (if not more so) than today’s documents.

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