Should applicants take errors in job adverts as a warning sign?

October 12, 2017

12th October 2017 by Georgia Bennett

I can't be the only one who gets riled at the thought of blatant inequality? Though, what I'm talking about isn't ethnic or religious inequality. My thoughts refer to inequality between an organisation and potential employee.

Almost every job advertisement and application form I have looked at the past few weeks has some sort of spelling error, incorrect grammar, a word omitted so the sentence doesn't make sense or vital information lacking for no apparent reason. Some of the errors I've seen are unforgivable and painfully ironic. e.g. 'are ideal candidate will have experience of facilitating learning (peferably with teaching qualification e.g. PTLLS)'. Another job advert said that all interviews will take place on Wednesday... but with no date stated whatsoever. When I made a point of questioning when the interview date was, all they did was tell me the date. No thanks for confirming the error, no recognition of my evident eye for detail in this situation and so forth. A similar situation happened with another charity where I raised a major contradiction on their website compared to what they were telling me, yet they merely said their website was wrong not them. Again, there was not much of a thanks and no recognition for my attention to detail. Other spelling errors on adverts I've come across include 'we are growing and this is new post...' and '...whilst researching and initiating new fundraising ideas too boost the charity's awareness nationally.' I could go on and on…

The reason I refer to some organisations' lack of acknowledgement and appreciation for my honesty and keen eye is that if I was to have errors in my application, I am sure that could have the potential to sway their decision to disregard my application. If a candidate will be scrutinised for every word they write, surely the same should be done for the companies too? No one appeared to have taken my real life comments seriously enough to think that made me stand out from other candidates. For applicants, this is where I believe alarm bells should begin to ring.

When you scratch below the surface, arguably one person, organisation or team considers themselves better than you by their blatant blasé attitude to the job posting. Of course, one could argue a big corporation, or any sized organisation for that matter, has every right to have more status and standing than a mere individual candidate. Though, I believe this is not where companies should be, especially now organisations are generally evolving to have flatter, more equal hierarchical structures.

Essentially, there are often implications that the errors are more than just mere errors - I think it signifies a lack of care. There is an insinuation or assumption the potential employee won't care and doesn't deserve to be presented an edited, well thought out piece of text. To read into the situation at its deepest - I believe it's almost insulting.

My questions are: what does it say about the company? How can I, or anyone else for that matter, treat these places with respect? Especially when companies demand impeccable attention to detail and intelligent individuals. Should we be judging the organisation based on their advert? Most spelling errors I believe in this day and age are so avoidable, with editors and spell check on almost every device, app and computer program. Also, what impression do these mistakes give of the HR team and the company?

The real issue is that these situations put the candidates in a very difficult position. In a tough job market, we're (particularly millennials) inclined to feel that any job or any organisation that will take us will suffice; we cannot risk anything, jobs are too precious. This can leave us feeling as if we should sacrifice mentioning such errors or using them as a filtering system on our end, because what if they don't select us because we've got 'cocky' or 'cheeky' for raising the errors?! What should we do when we have no idea how to deal with shoddy job adverts, but we really like the sound of the role? Our minds are torn.

I am aware some may consider this point of view to be dramatic and to be over complicating the whole thing. However, being analytical by nature means I can't stop at the inevitable excuses 'we just wanted the advert out quickly' or 'we simply made an error'. Yes, mistakes happen, but when there are multiple incidents of spelling errors throughout the avert, this only signifies to me that someone or multiple people cannot write, read and edit properly. Or, they don’t care. What happened to first impressions?

I can only hope that one day there will be a mini revolution and people seeking jobs will boycott those organisations who clearly don't care enough. Though sadly, from my experiences, that wouldn’t leave much choice! Don't let companies make you feel as if you're not worthy of them. It seems in these situations, they're not worthy of you (that's if you spot the mistakes of course...!)

About the contributors

Photo of Helen Bennett

Helen Bennett

Helen is the Baby Boomer founder of Human Reality and Bennett's Business Bash. She has strong views on... well, just about everything! Her blog will cover a range of subjects and aims to give an opinion. She is forthright, no nonsense, sometimes controversial and often seeing the humorous side to working in business.

Photo of Georgia Bennett

Georgia Bennett

Georgia Bennett is the Millennial daughter of Helen. She too has strong views on just about everything! Often they agree but sometimes they don't. Having a degree in Classical Civilisation, Georgia takes the intellectual and often younger generation's perspective on things.