IT Employment

Never underestimate the power of a resume typo

Hiring executives apparently have a low threshold for resume bloopers. A recent study claims that one out of four executives will toss a resume into the wastebasket if they spot a typo. Here's what to do to lessen the chances of that happening to you.

Hiring executives apparently have a low threshold for resume bloopers. A recent study claims that one out of four executives will toss a resume into the wastebasket if they spot a typo. Here's what to do to lessen the chances of that happening to you.

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Last week I talked about 10 boring phrases that could derail your resume. For further evidence that resume blunders can cause negative knee-jerk reactions in prospective employers, take a look at these stats.

Staffing company Accountemps released research last week on this topic. When hiring executives were asked about resume typos:

  • 23% of those surveyed said just one typo is enough to send the resume to the trash heap.
  • Two typos and 28% of them are pulling the trigger.

A piece on the site Working.com gives some examples of bloopers from real-life resumes:

  • "I am attacking my resume for you to review."
  • "I have a keen eye for derail."
  • "Hope to hear from you, shorty."

Spell-check will most likely not catch these bloopers because the words are spelled correctly, but the words are not in the right context.

So what can you do to avoid these embarrassing blunders? Accountemps recommends:

  • Enlist detail-oriented family members, friends, or mentors to proofread your resume and provide honest feedback.
  • Take a timeout. Before submitting your resume, take a break and come back to it with a fresh set of eyes. You might catch something you missed the first time.
  • Print a copy. It's easy to overlook typos or formatting mistakes when reading a resume on a monitor, so print it out for review. Read through it slowly and pay close attention to font styles and sizes, in addition to spelling and grammar.
  • Try a new perspective. Sometimes readers inadvertently skip over parts they have read previously. Review your resume backward to help avoid this problem.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

287 comments
Fortune 50 Senior Management
Fortune 50 Senior Management

I for one could not disagree more. I've hired MBA Gratuates from some of the worlds best educational institutions who couldn't write a business letter to save their lives but they learned and quickly I might add. Spell, you've got to be joking? In this age of texting and internet slang spelling phonetically has almost become the norm, they all know how to spell but type, do they still teach that in highschool, who knows? Some of the worlds most esteemed executives make everyday typos, how can we hold people accountable for a typo when submitting perhaps the most important resume of their life. Please, nobody's perfect although there are those out there who think they are and think everyone should be and they are entitled to their opinions, to bad their focus is limited in this belief. I know the drive, integrity and focus it takes to accomplish this MBA goal and a "to" or a "too" for a "reveiw isn't going to alter my decision to meet someone who I believe has the skills to fulfil the role they are applying for. It's not going to make a difference to me if the qualifications, drive, personality and enthusiasum to do the job is there. Yes,you must be as precise and accurate when it come to your work, and detail is always important as is putting your best foot forward, however don't overlook a shining star because a vowel or word is out of place that's foolish. I believe most HR staffers are much too critical - take a look for yourself - screen a few on your own you might be surprised what you find.

LeonBA
LeonBA

My favorite was a cover letter I saw attached to an application--for a clerical job, no less--which began "Please except my application for...."

jrhawk42
jrhawk42

I heard that a company I use to work for was having trouble getting qualified applicants. The manager then proceeded to go through all the resumes that an HR employee had "thrown out" only to find several highly qualified applicants that had been ignored for various reasons that had nothing to do w/ the job. Now they are looking for a new HR employee.

subscribe@OcatilloPictures.com
subscribe@OcatilloPictures.com

It's a shame that corporations don't hold their own communications to such standards. I'm shocked to see how many companies have typos and basic grammar errors on their web sites! I have a relative who teaches kids in grades 1-3 whom I've supplied with particularly egregious examples of poorly written brochures from billion dollar companies. She uses these as teaching tools for grammar. Kids love being able to mock puffed up adults! So, if you've got any $100k communications jobs available, I know some third graders who can compose a sentence properly.

Eric.Quam
Eric.Quam

"Spell-check will most likely not catch these bloopers because the words are spelled correctly, but the words are not in the right context." In my experience, spell-check is often the source of these contextual mistakes. Slow down and deliberately perform each modification. Treat spell-check as a potential mine field. I also find that I completely overlook typos and spell-check errors. I presume years of reading email and documents with common errors has conditioned me for my technical role. Unfortunately, this quality is a very negative trait when proof reading. I wonder if others share this challenge?

richard.ayers
richard.ayers

Why would one even want to or contemplate working for a company who have such pedantic managers?

rob.pilgrim
rob.pilgrim

The person you are hiring will to some extent represent your company - if they cannot even represent themselves without error then obviously they belong with one of your competitors.

larrytessari
larrytessari

Another thing that will cause your resume to be tossed out is if either the college you graduated from doesn't exist any more or a comapny you worked for went out of business. My college (Detroit Institute of Technology)was fortunate to have astronaut Wally Shirrah on the faculty but it has since merged with Lawrence Technological University. My girlfriend went to William Tyndale college which simply closed its doors. Should we waste valuable space on a resume explaining these things.

mrmeembo
mrmeembo

There is no substitute for reading your submission. I too trash resumes for such errors. After reviewing resumes of frustrating people I didn't hire (but other people did) I find these types of mistakes work their way into many other aspects of work.

Tekkless
Tekkless

The resume I used fresh out of college had one typo. My future boss mentioned it in the interview. I thought I was sunk. He grinned at my abject apologies, and hired me ? as a newspaper editor. Needless to say, I've sought to be meticulous ever since. And while typos on a resume sure don't score any points with me, I don't think I'd scratch an otherwise promising candidate over one minor error, especially one that spell check couldn't catch.

merrill
merrill

Picky, picky, picky! I'm glad I'm retired.

canusis
canusis

If you want an IT job and either are too lazy to check your resume for errors or can't find the resources to do so properly, then you're probably not the person I want on my staff. Tip: The past tense form of "to lead" is NOT "lead" (this error showed up a dozen times in my last batch of resumes).

Number 6
Number 6

I have found grammatical and typographical errors in most all of the posts from HR personnel in this thread series. In my opinion, HR and their stereotypical arrogance, incompetence, and cruelty is the problem here; not the occasional typo or misspelling by an otherwise qualified candidate (who is often under profound stress)...

OldER Mycroft
OldER Mycroft

Once you have spent a number of years concentrating on the printed word, you tend to develop an innate ability to read text upside down, mainly because the text IS upside down when sheets appear in the delivery tray of a commercial printing machine or are spooled out of a phototypesetting machine. Reading a printed page upside down (from bottom to top & right to left) tends to obviate the tendencies of slovenly reading skills - [i]where you don't notice mistakes and the brain fools you into thinking the inputted text is correct.[/i] It's not for everyone. Indeed, many printing staff find it impossible to do this, but these same staff have not spent much time on the shop floor. I spent over 20 years there. Oops!

Englebert
Englebert

Some of the best techies I worked with wrote the worst e-mails loaded with spelling errors. If someone could figure out what went on in their brain cells would be revealing. I suspect they could'nt care less about language and were more the type to tinker with technology. Does excellent grammatical skills translate to excellent IT skills ? I think not. There are loads of positions out there that involve dealing with people and hence require good communication skills. Remember, the reason why people gravitated towards IT is to mainly communicate with the computer. Looking for an IT person with very good communication skills is like looking for an English professor with very good IT skills.

MartyL
MartyL

Read aloud to yourself, but listen to yourself, as well. When you "naturally pause" in your vocalization, do you see a comma in your copy? If not, add one. Also, look for inappropriate apostrophes - the apostrophe's job is not to pluralize.

herlizness
herlizness

waht reely bothas mee abt this is that I half too relie on the the persson whose reeding my rezume knowin how too spell tehirselves ... wen I look at capshuns on tevelision I kan c that a quit a few of tehm have no klue

PScottC
PScottC

I become absolutely anal retentive when reading resumes that include phrases such as "detail oriented" and the like. I look for both grammatical and spelling mistakes. Any error found is grounds for trashing the resume. When reading a resume, I expect the person to live up to what he says about himself. I am more likely to forgive errors in a resume that does not include these phrases.

shine.greg
shine.greg

Friend of mine submitted his CV for a job (on the strength of his degree in Public Administration)to a variety of potential employers (mid 90's) and was horrified when I pointed out his typo....he'd listed his degree as being in Pubic Administration. Classic blooper. No job came from those CVs oddly enough.

jbenton
jbenton

I lost out on my first real job prospect coming out of college because I had spelling errors in my resume. That was a lesson that I will never forget. -- Jeff Austin, TX

DesertPete9
DesertPete9

Read it aloud to a real or imaginary listener.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Because if the hiring manager is so anal to over-react so badly over a small, modest typo... What is it going to be like *working* for such a ... well, I'll let your imagination fill in the most appropriate word. I think this statistic illustrates that one out of four hiring managers is an insufferable jerk that you are better off not working for, anyhow. :)

desi906
desi906

You need more than just proof reading for typos and grammar. When I was hiring, the first thing I did was turn on the Show/Hide button in Word to check if they used their computer like a Typewriter or a Word Processor. Pressing the space bar to create white space ensured they never got as far as an interview.

cphillips
cphillips

Who u callin' shorty, big guy?

kthompso
kthompso

Read aloud - "hearing" the words will help to avoid context and other errors.

i.t
i.t

who the hell cares how something in spelt...to disqualify someone on that basis is stupid. Have you ever seen 'the apprentice', its this retarded show with 'sir' Alan sugar. there was a section where they were going through CVs, very enlightening.

juliefenwick
juliefenwick

I have done this in the past; I was working in public libraries and it's crucial that spelling, grammar and presentation are to a high standard in such arenas. A typing error shows me that the candidate is not paying attention to such detail and is therefore unsuitable for the post. There is no way around this in a job where accuracy is important. Would you deposit your savings with a bank that cannot account for it properly?

holmeda
holmeda

The rest of the resume would have to be extraordinary for me to forgive a typo. A resume is important, it's going to get you a job (or not). If you can't put the effort in to check two pages of text which are really important to you personally. How much attention are you going to pay in your job working for me?

bchesnut
bchesnut

Having read quite a few resumes myself over the years let me tell you what typos tell me in a resume. I work as a lead developer and software architect. Attention to detail is important for developers, and when I see typos in a resume it suggests to me that the person does not have very good attention to detail. If I am reviewing 50 resumes and yours has typos, but somebody who appears to be equally qualified on paper does not, they may get the interview opportunity over you simply because they have already demonstrated a better attention to detail. Just something to think about whenever you are feeling lazy about proofing a resume.

stvnchrs
stvnchrs

"Here?s what to do to lessen the chances of that happening to you" You should avoid using any word such as "to" this many times in a sentence! Besides those already mentioned I am glad to see you were careful in your wording. I have found that by reading my work aloud I can also catch sentence structure problems or by having someone else read it aloud. Maybe in the future you could address how to create a resume for someone who has been self employeed their entire adult life and now wants to work for someone else. It seems that companies don't want to hire Entrepreneurs.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

At least in South Carolina. But they call it "keyboarding".

arthurborges
arthurborges

Um, maybe because you might learn something outside the four walls of your little job box? If yours is as small as mine, then you might welcome the chance.

arthurborges
arthurborges

If s/he has to interact with the outside world, it's a blemish on the company image. If not, the hiree's skills and smarts are more important.

ktikoft
ktikoft

I once had over 20 resumes for a Job come in which I assume Word had corrected from Queensland to Queens Land. As this was in the University Attended section they failed on this hurdle. In a buyers market when you get 300 job applications presentation counts. Especially on the Resume itself. Cover letter typos can be forgiven but Resumes and a way to shoot yourself in the foot.

LightVelocity
LightVelocity

This low class filters might work for positions that are available at dime a dozen, and for smart managers who made it to the position and can't think of any easier way to show their rejection power. Heck, unless the job involves having to constantly watch or correct a typo, I would easily live with this one, if the person can bring in more value and capability to the table, rather than hiring someone who has spent his living being too perfect on the spellings and the grammar.

SirWizard
SirWizard

"You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead." Stan Laurel Brats (a short feature) 1930

Number 6
Number 6

"...are too lazy to check your resume for errors or can't find the resources to do so properly..." Your attitude is judgemental and immature. Have you ever considered a career in HR?

shine.greg
shine.greg

For a number of reasons you're bang on the money Glen. A lot of interviewers recieve bad communication from HR and as a result have 5 minutes prep time with the CV before the candidate is sitting in front of them. Therefore, no CV is scrutinised with any gusto anymore. Candidates know this, and can add any business buzzwords they please - whatever it takes to get you backside on the seat in front of the interviewer. So as a result, neither manager nor candidate puts a whole lot of faith in a CV anymore. It's good at weeding out the complete clowns and freaks (like giving an email address similar to: sexybustybabe@hotmail.com - something I have seen before..not this particular address but close!!!) but these days, you have to see and listen to the person tell you first hand, and then grill them a bit, to see what's real and what's not!

paulozinha
paulozinha

yes scott. that detail-oriented guy will make us busy to re-check and re-read again our resume when he become a decision maker in the future.. :( thanks to you scott typo is that big deal only for virgo star-sign HR boss. please note that ;)

jacksonkingfish
jacksonkingfish

In the early 80's one of my first resumes taught me, if your too lazy to check your spelling in the dictionary, stick to words you write often. Recently graduated from a medical assistant course, my stellar spelling abilties in medical terminology lead me to my own undoing. Stating that I had a warm 'repor' with patients must have put my career back a month or two, when I saw rapport written in a sentence my humiliation was all my mine.

SirWizard
SirWizard

If the job involved high-competency use of Microsoft Word, a non-printing character view of a resume could provide insight. I'm a tech writer and would love to have someone qualify me that way by my resume. Mine is style based and completely formatted, without a single extra space or paragraph break. It certainly would help me land the job. I've often helped Word "amateurs" discover why their documents behaved badly; such as, always printing a final blank page. I show them a few key pointers: - Paragraph breaks contain formatting. - Space before or after a paragraph is better than a bunch of line breaks. - Double blanks after a period suit monospaced typewriters, not proportional fonts. - Tabs are not big spacebars, they are controllable and very powerful. - Adding custom AutoCorrect entries can save time and effort. If Microsoft had put a button on the toolbar to open the Tab dialog box, there would have been a chance for some users to discover tabs on their own. I'll withhold my usual rant against the ribbon in crippled versions of Word later than Word 2003.

norbyf1
norbyf1

Typos should be mostly caught by a spellchecker; not using one is a negative. More important, however, are grammatical errors - there vs. their, hour vs. our, and my favorite: its vs. it's. I am probably old, cranky and overly pedantic, but this one really grates on me.

arthurborges
arthurborges

I agree about the hiring part of your but the bank part? After all the bailouts? Have a lovely day! I'm just overdue for a meal and cup of hot chocolate.

vinny9698
vinny9698

I used to work for a community college and we had to form a committee to hire new professors. It was done on Friday afternoons and we were rushed to go over the resumes because we had our regular duties plus this additional task. So you look for any little thing to disqualify people to get to the small number to interview.

aredirection
aredirection

I may be showing my naivety. In my 25 or so years of recruiting staff I have always looked for the person I thought would be most effective in the job. That does not necessarily mean that they will have perfect grammar or spelling. However, they should be knowledgeable J2EE programmers with business knowledge, or maybe an effective DBA with data warehousing experience. Spelling and grammar are important to editorial and publishing roles. I expect staff to be able to communicate effectively for their role and as those roles have always been technical, spelling and grammar have not been a major concern. From my first days as a programmer, I have always found that the syntax is checked fairly effectively by compilers, and technical reviews were used to catch issues like ?rm ?R? before it is a problem. Usually people only make that mistake once and then they are careful afterwards. And let those who are perfect cast the first stone. I have never found anyone with perfect grammar in the IT industry. I know I don?t have perfect grammar and I do make mistakes. It looks like some picky people on this thread need to learn a little humility, and just maybe they should look more deeply at what they are trying to achieve with the position they are filling and what that requires. I have noticed a lot of professional IT types can write a thesis easier than a job application, however that indicates other issues ? not a inability to communicate. Yes typos can be a problem, however certain personalities tend to focus on issues they can comprehend.

arthurborges
arthurborges

It's = It is It's = It has Its = a member of the family that includes my, your, his or her AND NOT m'y, you'r, hi's or he'r. Hopes this tunnels some light into anyone whose eyes are going fishlike because of Norbyf1's post.

LightVelocity
LightVelocity

But then, how many of the hirings are predominantly for these kind of tasks. And more importantly, aren't these something that can be corrected or taught? Why wouldn't some one learn or pay the greatest attention if that is what is the biggest differentiator. I guess hirers (if there is such a word) can get to be as picky, and seldom remember they are hiring on behalf of a company, not for their personal keep

wlburnettejr
wlburnettejr

Sure, we all make mistakes in our daily communications, however, a resume is often your only chance at a good first impression when seeking a job. It doesn't seem unreasonable to expect that a good job candidate would make sure their resume is error free. In my opinion, a resume that has typos and poor spelling and/or grammar indicates a lack of focus and attention to detail. Sure, for a technician, their technical ability is important, but so are their communication skills. A reply that is not well-written, in response to an email requesting support, just looks unprofessional and does not cast a favorable light on the I.T. department in general.

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