Will your over-reliance on Spell Check cost you a dream job?

I’ve interviewed a lot of people in my 15 year recruitment career. I would estimate that the figure would be over 4000. The majority of these people would be accountants and numbers people who aren’t known for their grammatical prowess, but I have noticed a trend whilst going through candidate’s CVs with a fine tooth comb which if anything, is more noticeable at the “senior end” of the market.

When interviewing the structure I use is always the same – always. I say what we are going to do, how long it will be, go through the candidate’s CV in detail, discuss what they are looking for openly and then we bounce some ideas around as to how we can get them that type of job.

Going through the CV is the most time consuming part of the interview by far, but for me it’s also the most insightful. How a candidate describes their background, what is important to them, why they moved roles and what they don’t say very often is just as important as what they do say. All this is hugely important to me in terms of assessing them as a candidate and a person in order to work effectively with them.

In this fine-tooth-combing phase of the interview – the amount of typos and grammatical errors I find in CVs is quite astounding.

Words spelt incorrectly, sentences not making sense, dates not adding up on the career history … I could go on. This isn’t just with more junior level candidates either or candidates who have English as a second language. I’ve noticed a good proportion of these are at the senior end of the market from people who should know the importance of creating a good first impression and having impeccable attention to detail.

I feel it’s fair to point out grammatical errors and typos in this scenario. Generally there are two types of response; “Oh my, how embarrassing, I put that together quickly and didn’t notice it” or the more defensive “well I ran it through spell check and it didn’t come up (so it’s not my fault)”

It’s as if the fact that they have pressed F7 and run spell check completely exonerates them from any responsibility with regard to the quality of grammar or spelling on their CV. How hard is it, really, to read through it, in good old-fashioned style to see if it flows nicely, makes sense and generally sounds good?? Don’t stop there – get someone else to read it, and maybe a third person. You’ll be amazed what errors someone else can pick up instantly in a document that you have proof read multiple times.

One thing I am certain of is that if that CV lands in the inbox of a hiring manager and they notice an error in the grammar or a “typo” then you will potentially be on the back foot or maybe your CV heads straight for the ‘no’ pile. Ironically enough I have found numerous errors on the CVs of candidates who write on the document that they have “Strong Attention to Detail” – one even spelt that sentence incorrectly.

Would I be correct in assuming that spell check has made people lazy?? Is correct grammar and spelling a trait that is no longer important in many roles and businesses – or will I continue to have a screening tool that is effective and reliable for those roles that call for a “Strong Attention to Detail”.

Let’s be honest, isn’t that all of them?