Once Around Again on the Subject of Typos

In my former life I owned and ran an advertising agency in Honolulu and was occasionally asked to speak to marketing students at the University of Hawaii. On one such occasion, I was asked what I looked for when reviewing resumes from prospective employees.

“Typos,” I said. “If I find a typo or a misspelling or a grammatical error in a resume, I trash it immediately.”

That prompted some startled looks and several in the class reacted with something bordering on anger. The gist of their objections seemed to be that it wasn’t fair to reject an otherwise eager and presumably intelligent candidate for an insignificant error.

Well, I said, suppose someone on our staff overlooked a mistake in a full-page newspaper ad we had prepared for a client — just one little digit in the client’s phone number, for example — and it wasn’t discovered until after the ad appeared. And suppose, too, that because of the error the client refused to pay for the ad. In that case, the agency would have to eat the $10,000 cost of the space. Now, would I want someone with typos in his or her resume proofreading ads we send to the newspapers? (Several seconds of silence followed.)

My daughter popped in this afternoon with another wonderful example. She is a staff writer with our local daily newspaper, the Maui News. They’re looking for a copy editor, whose job is to read over articles submitted by reporters, editing the copy down to available space, and catching any errors. The job requires good writing ability, a strong background in style and grammar, and a sharp eye for little details.

My daughter says they’re getting a lot of resumes … many with misspellings, typos and other mistakes.