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Spelling Matters

The Hiring Process

Question:

Is a misspelled word or two on a resume really a big deal? My work experience is what matters most, right? 

Answer:

It will matter a lot as you look for a job.

That’s if you even get the job in the first place. A human resources person will often look at the first misspelled word on a resume or application, roll her eyes, and recycle it, no questions asked.

And that’s if your information even reaches the HR person. In many companies, all the resumes go through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS): a computer programmed to find the resumes with the most keywords. The keywords are the qualifications and requirements that you see in the job leads. The candidate with the most keywords usually wins the ATS round. If you have the most keywords, but some of them are misspelled, the ATS will not select you to go to the HR person.

Not everybody is a good writer. But do the best you can with what you have. Type carefully. Use the spell checker (and the grammar checker), but don’t trust them. They are not reliable. They are machines; they don’t understand English. Then proofread (especially the contact information. It’s easier to misspell your name than you would imagine.) Finally, ask a live person who’s good with English to proofread for you. At FCWS, whoever is at the Resource Desk has proofreading as part of his/her job description; feel free to ask. Even very good proofreaders will tell you they can’t proof their own work. They see what they meant to say, but that may not be what actually appears on the paper.

Your job search is too important to let this go. Why lose the perfect job for you, just because you spelled a word wrong? It can happen to anyone. Don’t let it happen to you.

About the Author

Beth Davis-Reinhold

Beth Davis-Reinhold is an instructor at Frederick County Workforce Services, where she has worked for over 20 years. She teaches job search seminars and basic computer skills. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer, and is Internet and Computing Core Certified (IC3). Beth has been a member of Toastmasters International for more than 15 years, and is an Advanced Communicator Silver. A graduate of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Beth has also studied American Sign Language for many years. In addition to many sundry projects for FCWS, Beth writes its “Ask the Career Coach” blog.