Spelling, still important

image from: www.dilbert.com
image from: http://www.dilbert.com

In 2013 this post really shouldn’t have to be written. Sadly, it does. Not two, but three hiring managers recently confided that they’ve received resumes from job applicants with serious spelling errors. Not cover letters, but resumes. Yikes!

If you aren’t a strong speller, get to know spell check in your favorite word processing program. Even if you are a strong speller and winner of elementary spelling bees, use spell check. Then walk away for at least an hour and read it backwards from the last word to the first. Are any words wrong? Did spell check change a word to one you didn’t want? Have an English major or copy editor friend read your resume and make sure they don’t see anything wrong.

Do the same for your cover letter and any email correspondence that you send with your cover letter and resume as attachments. Nothing turns a hiring manager off quite like misspelling the company name, your alma mater, or your own name.

Full disclosure: As an eager, new graduate, I didn’t follow this advice. I hurried cover letters out the door and erred on the side of quantity over quality. When I received the email response below, I stopped that practice cold and never looked back.

One caution: I’m a sticker for punctuation and language usage. Hey, I already told you I was a  dinosaur, and maybe there aren’t many of us left. But I’d suggest you take a very careful look at your intro letter. And/or, have a really anal English major look it over.  It couldn’t hurt.  And it might just be the grain of sand that weighs the scale in favor of hiring you over someone else. One fact: If I wasn’t also a Mizzou grad, I wouldn’t have bothered to respond.”

After I got over the initial embarrassment, I took his advice and not only reread my letter, but had a copy editor review it. I kept in touch with this agency owner and while he never had an opening at the same time I was looking, his advice has always been spot on.

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