Typos in CVs: A Deal Breaker or Learning Opportunity?

Have you ever spent hours writing and editing an important document only to hit “Send” and you notice a typo that slipped through the cracks? If you’re like me, for a split second the world has ended. There is absolutely no one feeling worse than how I do right now. I’m going to lose my job. Everyone is laughing at me. Even my dog hates me. 

It got me thinking about candidates and how often they’re thrown in the ‘rejected’ pile over something that can often be so trivial. Sure, if you’re hiring a copywriter or editor, recurring typos can be a bit of a red flag. However, 77% of recruiters say that typos or poor grammar is an instant deal breaker according to a CareerBuilder survey.

Most of the time, these errors don’t indicate a lack of intelligence or attention to detail. They can, however, be a sign of a keen candidate who is passionate about getting ideas down on paper. Psychologist Tom Stafford, who studies typos (no, not like a proofreader) says “When we’re proofreading our own work, we know the meaning we want to convey. Because we expect that meaning to be there, it’s easier for us to miss when parts of it are absent. The reason we don’t see our own typos is that what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads”.

If you’re looking for someone creative, an idea generator or a great pitcher, a typo shouldn’t be the mistake you’re looking for. There are many candidates out there who’ve been rejected after confusing “lose” for “loose” or “their” for “they’re” - they may have had an amazing set of skills that are more important than spelling or grammar oversights.  

What should you consider before chucking out a CV with a typo?

  • Mistakes can ironically show that they’ve put more effort and work into an application. The rise of ChatGPT and AI means more people are relying on technology for applications. This is great in lots of ways. But, when you’re selling yourself, you want it to be authentic and come straight from the horse's mouth. Not that we’re comparing your candidates to horses…
  • What’s happening behind the scenes? Applicants might be super-skilled in their work, but English might not be their native language. They may have learning difficulties like dyslexia. Some of the most successful people do! 
  • Grammar and spelling are skills that can be cultivated and improved over time. Sometimes you can make a mistake over and over because you’ve never been corrected. I hold my hands up and say that although I’m now writing posts like this for a living, I spelled “business” like “buisness” until I was 16. Never made that mistake again…
  • Applying for jobs can be extremely stressful, and we tend to make more mistakes when under pressure. Candidates may be writing and rewriting resumes and cover letters and filling out endless applications, all while dealing with pressures at work or at home. Even the most qualified candidates may trip up!

While typos shouldn’t be completely ignored, they shouldn’t be the sole determinant of a candidate's potential. So, to avoid missing out on great talent, give them a heads up of an error and fix it, rather than look at it as a reason to screen them out.

In doing so, you can build a more empathetic and inclusive hiring process!

Book A Demo