Google HR Boss Says 58% Of Resumés Get Trashed Because Of One Spelling Mistake

168955497Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesNot even Google Glass can help you spot this mistake.

Google HR boss Laszlo Bock likes to cite a startling figure: 58% of resumés have typos.

“Typos are deadly because employers interpret them as a lack of detail-orientation, as a failure to care about quality,” he says.

For Google — a company that sees 50,000 resumés a week — the typo is one of five resumé mistakes that will immediately land yours in the “no” pile.

Yet the mistake doesn’t stem from laziness, Bock says, but obsessiveness.

“People who tweak their resumés the most carefully can be especially vulnerable to this kind of error,” he says, “because they often result from going back again and again to fine tune your resumé just one last time.”

According to cognitive science, our vulnerability to typos comes thanks to the way our brains store information.

University of Sheffield psychologist Tom Stafford explained how it happens to Wired:

“When you’re writing, you’re trying to convey meaning. It’s a very high level task,” [Stafford] said.

As with all high level tasks, your brain generalizes simple, component parts (like turning letters into words and words into sentences) so it can focus on more complex tasks (like combining sentences into complex ideas).

“We don’t catch every detail, we’re not like computers or NSA databases,” said Stafford. “Rather, we take in sensory information and combine it with what we expect, and we extract meaning.”

This shortcutting is part of a cognitive process called generalization, one of your mind’s tricks for sorting through data.

When you set out to drive to your buddy’s house but end up pulling into your parking lot at work, you’ve experienced generalization firsthand — rather than actually evaluating the path you’re taking, you cruise along on autopilot since the drive to work feel familiar and easy. And since it feels familiar and easy, your brain thinks it’s also right path, even if you end up pulling up to the wrong parking spot.

Laszlo BockGetty / Neilson BarnardGoogle’s Laszlo Bock

It’s the same case with editing text, even if a text as crucial to your career as your resumé. You’re intimately familiar with every corner of your resumé — given that you keep going back to perfect it. But that familiarity is in fact your enemy when it comes to proofreading.

To vanquish this enemy, we’re going to need some de-familiarization.

“Once you’ve learned something in a particular way,” Stafford says, “it’s hard to see the details without changing the visual form.”

Thus you have Bock’s recommendation.

“Read your resumé from bottom to top,” the HR boss says, since “reversing the normal order helps you focus on each line in isolation.”

Alternatively, you could make the text blurry — it increases reading comprehension for the same de-familiarising reasons.

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