Author Topic: Mistakes can spell disaster  (Read 9218 times)

Badshah Mamun

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Mistakes can spell disaster
« on: June 18, 2012, 07:38:01 PM »
Mistakes can spell disaster
By Jim Bright
The Sydney Morning Herald

A simple type can have your CV dismissed, writes Jim Bright.

This one is for Dita in Victoria but really it is for all those who are struggling to get their CVs shortlisted ? and those who claim to help them.

I will start with a statistic. In a study, when we sent CVs with just one spelling mistake or typo to recruiters, it reduced the applicant's chances of being shortlisted by 50 per cent. Can anyone guess what my first rule of job applications might be?

Give a prize to yourself if you said "ensure there are no spelling mistakes or typographical errors". Your prize can be collected from any bookstore in return for cash or from a library and consists of the following: Macquarie Dictionary (Pocket or Concise versions); and Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss.

Now the hard bit. Take out your Truss and examine it closely, it will provide you with invaluable support ? of the grammatical variety. When writing the CV, don't guess at words or rely on Bill Gates's vocabulary brought to you directly from Seattle in a range of colors [sic] that harmonize [sic] poorly if your Word program has defaulted to US spelling. Instead, why not use that dictionary?

If you think I'm being a touch sarcastic this week, it is because I just realised that I cannot remember seeing a CV that did not contain a spelling mistake.

I am sure I must have seen one but I can't bring it to mind. Spelling matters to recruiters. It should matter to job hunters. Want to double your chances of getting the job? Then spell correctly!

This goes, once, twice, three times for a lady like Dita, who is from a non-English speaking background.

The grammatical errors and spelling mistakes undermined what was otherwise a nicely presented CV of a highly skilled and experienced professional. Some errors include: "taking all the computers in the lab" (this is not taken out of context, that was the complete statement); "Punching all the invoices regarding purchase of all computer's hardware and software"; and "customer service and handling phones".

Dita's CV is uneven, because in other places the language is fluent and sophisticated. Unfortunately, the contrast effect is likely to raise doubts in the mind of a recruiter who is short on time and overloaded with competing applicants. It gives the impression (admittedly perhaps unfairly) that she has received assistance with an earlier version of her CV that she has subsequently adapted herself.

Alternatively it could be taken as an example of the standard of attention she will bring to her job.

I was recently approached by an enlightened job-support organisation that recognised not only do applicants need help ? especially those with language and/or cultural barriers ? but those who advise them need training in what constitutes an effective CV.

Some readers may feel this preoccupation with spelling is pedantry gone mad, a case of full-blown anal retentiveness, and perhaps you'd be correct in your view. Sadly, my condition appears to be shared with the majority of recruiters. So if you are in the business of job hunting, or the business of helping job hunters, in the words of that great career counsellor Sandy in Grease, "you better shape up".

If you are in any doubt about your CV, and everybody should be, get it reviewed by someone who has more than a passing grasp of spelling and punctuation. Insist that whoever reviews your CV reports at least three errors or areas of improvement to ensure that they read it closely.

My tone is really one of exasperation rather than sarcasm, because it pains me to see talented people with so much to offer stumbling over something that can be remedied so easily with the right resources, processes and support.

Md. Abdullah-Al-Mamun (Badshah)
Member, Skill Jobs
[email protected]