Would You Hire Someone With Typos on a Résumé?

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Jan 8, 2020

“I hired someone with three typos on their résumé. She was the most detailed-oriented person I’ve ever worked with. I hired someone without a college degree. He was way smarter, innovative, and creative than me.” 

TEDx and keynote speaker and author of You Can’t Do That at Work, Natasha Bowman, recently posted that on LinkedIn. Since then, the post went viral, garnering more than 8,3000 comments. 

Bowman’s words of wisdom speak to a shift that’s changing the way organizations view the “perfect” candidate. Her idea that the perfect candidate isn’t always someone with a typo-free résumé or an advanced education has been inspiring to HR professionals, employers, recruiters, and workers.

To make positive changes and inspire those in your own organization, it’s worth thinking about expanding what it means to be…perfect.

The Perfect Candidate Has a Personality Beyond a Résumé

A résumé is a poor proxy for future success. It’s a brief, often glorified summary of a candidate’s experiences, skills, and awards. It doesn’t show you who the person is based on cultural fit, job fit, and personality. 

When you screen job candidates solely on résumé-worthy experiences, you can miss out on top talent or end up choosing people who won’t be around for the long haul. That’s likely why 92% of talent professionals say soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills when they hire people, while 80% say that soft skills are increasingly important to company success, according to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2019 Report.

You must go beyond the paperwork, just like Bowman did with the applicant who had a résumé typo, to assess effectively for soft skills, personality, and cultural fit. For instance, you can use a personality assessment to paint a picture of who the candidate is, what motivates the person, and what the individual is like to work with on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, during the interview process, you can integrate behavioral or situational questions that assess for soft skills necessary for a given role. 

You just might be surprised. Someone who has less experience but excels in answering situational and behavioral questions may be more of a fit than someone who appears immediately qualified on paper. 

The Perfect Candidate Is Hidden Behind Errors

Bowman explained that she hired someone despite three typos. Yet many hiring professionals have a low tolerance for such errors. They will typically send résumés with mistakes immediately to the rejection pile. 

In reality, discounting people for typos sends talented candidates straight out of your talent pool. Bowman reminds us to look past trivial errors to avoid missing out on top talent. 

Granted, there’s a difference between tolerating a few insignificant errors and accepting a résumé riddled with spelling and grammatical mistakes. You should determine your tolerance level based on the requirements of each role. 

For example, if you have a position that doesn’t demand a lot of written communication, your tolerance level for simple grammatical errors could be higher. Likewise, you might choose to overlook a candidate misplacing a comma, but if the applicant misuses a word or tone and meaning are off-putting, that can carry over into verbal communication. Ultimately, it’s about setting relevant guidelines with respect to potential errors. 

The Perfect Candidate Is Trainable

We’ve all seen them. Unrealistic job postings that require five-plus years of experience or a laundry list of advanced degrees and certifications for an entry-level job. But education and experience don’t always predict a new hire’s success. You’re likelier to see better results by focusing on someone’s growth and development.

Which explains why notable companies are following Bowman’s belief in the importance of training. Google, EY, Costco, and Hilton are among numerous organizations no longer requiring a college degree for certain positions. These companies concentrate on employee betterment, not pre-made perfection — which means being willing to nurture people who are a few years short on job experiences or degrees and guiding them to create goals they can meet through training and mentorship opportunities. 

So the next time you see typs lke thse on a résumé, don’t automatically discount the applicant. You might be missing out on amazing talent.

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