I was struck by the stance of Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit and founder of a software company, in a Harvard Business Review article he wrote entitled, “I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar”. In it he shares that his employee screening process includes a mandatory grammar test. If the candidate fails, they aren’t hired – even if they’re otherwise intelligent and well-suited to the role. After reading his position, I have to say that it makes sense. After all, grammar mistakes could signify a lack of attention to detail, or a lack of desire to learn and improve. That might sound harsh, but really, is there any reason that a professional should still be making grade-school mistakes in high-stakes work? There’s no excuse for not understanding when and how to use their/there/they’re or its/it’s. Here are a couple of quotes from the article that really resonated with me:
Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. (Words) are a projection of you in your physical absence.
… grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right? Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it's”, then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with.
Applicants who don’t think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren’t important. And I guarantee that even if other companies aren’t issuing grammar tests, they pay attention to sloppy mistakes on resumes. After all, sloppy is as sloppy does.