Typos on Resumes: Should You Hire a Job Applicant Anyway?
Most hiring managers say they’d rule out a candidate for resume typos, but is that a good practice for your business? There are a few reasons it might not be.
Job applicants are urged to review their resumes more than a few times to ensure there are no misspellings or grammatical errors. To be safe, they should even have a friend or associate review it. But as hiring managers know all too well, even the most diligent candidates can occasionally let a typo or two slip by.
For hiring managers who review resumes, one typo can be a huge disappointment. When a candidate is otherwise perfect on paper, it can be difficult to give them a chance. However, there are a few good reasons to rethink that policy.
You’ll Have an Advantage
That candidate with the resume error? Chances are, nobody else is offering an interview. One survey found that 76 percent of executives would rule out an applicant over just one typo in a resume. With so many businesses finding competition fierce for talented professionals, forgiving a mistake or two could mean landing a great specialist ahead of competitors.
Some Candidates Hire Professionals
Some typos are simple grammatical errors that may slip by unnoticed. Some could simply be a sign that the candidate isn’t a professional resume writer. All of the other applicants may have paid a professional to create or review their resume, making them not necessarily the best candidate on their own. The best applicant may be the person who painstakingly put together a resume and reviewed it multiple times, hoping to make the best impression, yet somehow missed an error somewhere on the page.
Typos Are Relative
A typo can signal a lack of attention to detail, which may be important if you’re hiring a data analyst or CFO. However, there are many professionals who can do a great job while making an occasional mistake. Consider the type of position and whether a missing letter here or there would affect that person’s work output before sending the resume to the recycle bin.
Typos Are Human Nature
In the end, it’s more about the reason for the typo than the fact that it’s there. Psychologist Tom Stafford told Wired that when we write, we’re usually more focused on the concepts we’re conveying than the words on the page. This can lead to typos, especially when those words must serve an important purpose, such as landing a dream job. When proofing our own work, we often pay more attention to the concepts we’re communicating than the words themselves, making it easy to skim over mistakes without seeing them. This actually makes it highly likely that a document like a resume could contain an error for years without the candidate noticing. In fact, hirers could have errors on their own resumes that they’re unaware of.
Focus on the Bigger Picture
A typo may be the least of your worries. A perfectly-formatted resume may not actually be perfect once you look “under the hood.” More than half of HR professionals surveyed say they’ve caught a candidate lying on a resume, with some of those lies being complete fabrications. What’s more important—a grammar mistake, or someone embellishing a past career role? You’re probably more likely to see a candidate lying on their resume than leaving out a letter or misspelling a word. Instead of concerning yourself with resume perfection, it might be more important to focus on checking resumes and researching potential hires online.
While job applicants are encouraged to do everything they can to avoid mistakes on their resumes, it’s also important for hiring managers to know when they should completely rule an applicant out for a mistake. In some cases, they may be the ones making the mistake by missing out on a talented worker.
A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked at TV, print, radio and Internet companies for 20 years. He’s an advisor at StartupGrind and has written for BusinessInsider, Fortune, NBC, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur and Venturebeat. You can find him on Twitter here.