Believe it or Not – Errors in Job Advertisements

A year or so ago, while searching for a job, I came across a position that appeared to have all the qualities I was looking for. However, there was not just one but six problems within the job advertisement.

The blatant spelling and typo errors stuck out like sore thumbs in the job advertisement.

All were common, everyday words — not the kind that have similar sounding words with different meanings, or usage, such as “affect,” and “effect,” “allude,” and “elude,” or “complement,” and “compliment.” No, these were ordinary, mundane words that any 10-year-old would know how to spell.

I now had a problem. What was the right thing to do — the proper manner of handling this situation? During all the time I was searching through various job sites, I had never seen anything like this. I knew if I turned in a résumé with so much as one small error, it could very well be thrown in the trash. Therefore, my thoughts were more focused on throwing their ad in the trash. Why would I want to work for a company that couldn’t even make certain that a publicly viewed job advertisement was error free?

This, like many job advertisements, was considered a “blind ad.” They don’t give a company name, or any information that indicates who you are dealing with. I personally view them with scepticism, as many, I had found, were simply scams, or dubious, at the least. Surprisingly, this job advertisement had a big clue, as to where it came from. Usually applications are sent back through the job site, but this actually gave a genuine email address.

After a bit of research and digging, I was flabbergasted with what I found. The job advertisement came from a very well-known and reputable company. Also, the person who wrote the job advertisement was in an executive director-type position!

Once I found these things out, I had another theory. I was thoroughly convinced the errors were put there purposely as some kind of test. I was sure they did this to see how many job applicants would simply ignore it, as opposed to how many would have the gumption to actually comment about it. It had to be handled in a most delicate manner.

Well, me and my big mouth couldn’t leave it that way, so I commented about the errors, in the most sensitive, tactful and non-offensive way possible. I was sure she was going to reply back saying I was one out of “X” number of people who had the fortitude to say something, rather than ignore it, and therefore I’d get an interview. I was way off! This was not some kind of test, as she indicated the job site didn’t have a spell checker, and apologised.

I thought, whether or not the job site had a spell check, she could have checked the spellings in a Word document. This was not encouraging, since to some extent, it was indicative of the quality of employees and culture at this large company.

While I don’t have the job advertisement, or my response anymore, I am talking about simple words such as ‘person’, ‘inside’, ‘require’, ‘distance’ — I think you get the idea. These are not words people usually misspell, but at least the next time I checked the job advertisement, the errors were fixed. Needless to say, I did not get the job, or even an interview.

Moral of the story:

  1. I guess the truth hurts!
  2. Be careful when identifying shortcomings in the strategies or communications of a potential employer. In this case, it may have been acceptable if the job was for a writer or editor – but in all cases you run a risk when offering unsolicited constructive criticism.

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