Could poor grammar on your CV cost you a new job?

We recently read an article from Black Coffee Blog about how poor grammar will ruin your career and it led us to reflect about how much poor grammar and spelling affects our responses to a candidate’s CV. From the poll that Black Coffee Blog undertook, it revealed that 65% of those surveyed felt that poor spelling and grammar was ‘the biggest turn off for [them] to see on a candidate’s CV’. This has been echoed in other surveys undertaken. Poor spelling, grammar and formatting accounted for over 50% of recruiters viewing a CV in a negative light. Brand Recruitment specialises in marketing jobs so for us correct spelling and grammar is crucial, yet would bad spelling or grammar put us off putting someone forward for a job?

We asked our consultants about this and Joby Read, Head of Recruitment, suggested that ‘grammatical errors and spelling mistakes would definitely act as a warning sign but it would not put [him] off immediately’ if a candidate had the right experience. He suggests that ‘it would make [him] question their ability to communicate effectively so [he] would need to meet with them to ascertain what they were like.’

Other recruiters may not be as willing to give candidates the initial benefit of doubt with their grammar and spelling mistakes, with some adopting a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach. There are still large pools of candidates applying for jobs so in order to sift out the good from the ugly then this may be a natural, even subconscious starting point. We have heard of recruiters (not at Brand we may add) who had a significant amount of applications for a junior role and the only way they could condense these down was by deciding to not consider any candidates whose CVs were written in Times New Roman. Some may say that this policy is a little harsh yet the rationale was that it would leave only those candidates who had a little more creativity.

The Candidate Engagement Team at Brand Recruitment goes through all the applications we receive on a daily basis. We receive hundreds of CVs and to start with we will look at the candidate’s recent experience. As marketing recruitment specialists, we do require candidates to have some marketing experience so if a job-seeker applies from a teaching background, for example, then we would not register them. Moving on from this, we then look at the CV’s layout, and any spelling or grammatical errors which will act as a prompt to question the ability of the candidate. Due to the large volume of applications recruiters and hiring managers receive they need some guidelines in place in order to cut down the volume.

Both CVs and interviews are all about a good first impression so make sure your CV represents you in the best possible light. Ask someone to check your CV for any spelling and grammatical errors. For any roles where writing will make up a large part of your job then these areas need to be absolutely perfect on your CV otherwise your CV will find itself in the ‘no’ pile. The job market is very competitive at the moment so make sure your CV stands out for all the right reasons, rather than the wrong ones.

View our CV tips page for some helpful advice.

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