Why the Resume Police is Wrong and Should Cut Candidates Some Slack

July 13, 2015

Thirty years ago I completely understand why HR pros were like the Resume Police. What else did they have to go on? Three decades ago you had the resume and Wonderlic, and that was about it in determining if a candidate was any good, outside of your interview questions.

The Resume Police would comb through your resume looking for every little grammatical mistake and once it was found – bam, the resume was rejected. Oh, the good old days! When determining someone’s talent was as easy as discovering they used the wrong “to,” or just missed a spelling mistake.

Silly candidate. You must have no talent if you can’t spell every single word correctly!

I hate the Resume Police.

I don’t find any value in an HR pro being part of the Resume Police in this day and age. Yes, I understand that mistakes on a resume might be an indication of someone’s lack of attention to detail. I also know that sometimes a mistake, might just be a mistake, and the resume I’m looking at might be my next great employee.

I believe great HR and talent pros know when a grammar mistake is important on a resume, and when it’s forgivable. There must be context. If I’m hiring an Electrician, and they have an error or two on their resume, I’m not really that concerned. I don’t need them write! I need them to pull wire. If I’m hiring for an editor or accountant, I’m looking for a high level of attention to detail. Those errors will way heavier on my screening process.

In the last few weeks, I just saw a group of HR pros all concluding that having a mistake on a resume is a death sentence for a candidate. These same pros made some disparaging remarks about anyone who would ever allow this to happen. These are HR pros I respected (past tense). The Resume Police is narrow minded, at best.

People make mistakes. No one wants to make a mistake on their resume. Everyone wants to make the best impression they can. As an HR and talent pro, I always gave individuals the benefit of the doubt. I would tell them if I found an error and asked them to correct it and return their corrected version of their resume to me.

There response to this request showed me more about who they truly were, than me just judging them based on a simple grammatical error. Were they contrite, surprised, embarassed, apologetic, etc.? How did they react to this feedback? What was their response? All of this data gives me great insight to who the person really is, to what kind of talent might they truly be.

Are you part of the Resume Police? If so, do you know why you are, and what you’re gaining from it?

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