Don’t Tempt Fate with Your Resume: A Cautionary Tale of Poor Spelling, Assumptions and a Lucky Break

A number of months ago I spoke with the head of marketing for a local company. He was hiring for a role that required a great deal of writing. A candidate had submitted a resume with a typo in the first line and he automatically made a number of assumptions that were not in the candidate’s favour.

Poor Spelling & Negative Assumptions

The most important assumption, and one which most of us would make, was this…”If he doesn’t proofread his resume (or have it proofread by somebody else) for an important job that demands impeccable written and other communication then he will be equally “careless”, “sloppy”, “unprofessional” when it comes to the company’s marketing copy.

A Lucky Break

Thankfully for him, the HR person was persistent and insisted that the person was a very high-calibre candidate worthy of an interview. Based on this, the hiring manager interviewed the candidate and confirmed that the candidate was indeed a rock star.

Now, rather than mention the error as a key reason for not hiring him, the manager began trying to rationalize the error and explain why it probably happened. Interestingly, neither the assumption that the candidate was unworthy — based on one piece of evidence — nor the subsequent rationalization are factual. We can say that she definitely made a typing mistake, however, we can’t say why.

In the end then it really comes down to a feeling. At first, the hiring manager was negatively disposed to the candidate then became positively disposed. At some point, the manager’s first instinct may be born out in a typo or other error or it may be that the person goes on to a long and successful career with that organization.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that people make assumptions about everything that you do and look for reasons to either like your resume or throw your resume out. If you don’t have a kindly HR person in your corner who can defend your capabilities you had better make sure your resume is written well with the job description and accuracy in mind.

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