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"I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why."
Old 07-23-2012, 12:50 AM   #1
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"I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why."

I still can't decide whether he truly believes what he's spouting, or if he's just come up with the mother of all publicity campaigns.

I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why. - Kyle Wiens - Harvard Business Review

Quote:
Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can't distinguish between "to" and "too," their applications go into the bin.

Of course, we write for a living. iFixit.com is the world's largest online repair manual, and Dozuki helps companies write their own technical documentation, like paperless work instructions and step-by-step user manuals. So, it makes sense that we've made a preemptive strike against groan-worthy grammar errors.

But grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn't make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can't tell the difference between their, there, and they're.

Good grammar makes good business sense — and not just when it comes to hiring writers. Writing isn't in the official job description of most people in our office. Still, we give our grammar test to everybody, including our salespeople, our operations staff, and our programmers.

On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, 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. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.
Naturally this was posted to Linkedin, where I'm sure it's sending flocks of eager candidates to his companies...
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Old 07-23-2012, 05:00 AM   #2
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Hm, that approach makes perfect sense to me.
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I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who don't think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren't important.
If he can still find enough qualified people, that's a smart way to weed out those who are careless about details.
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Old 07-23-2012, 05:22 AM   #3
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I find his use of the Oxford comma to be distressing.
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Old 07-23-2012, 05:39 AM   #4
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The use of "then that's" is comical.
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Old 07-23-2012, 05:44 AM   #5
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For all intensive purposes, he ain't gonna be ab-o too hire to many people. Their are not enuf kids 2day hoo no how two spel. Were is he gonna find theme?
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Old 07-23-2012, 05:57 AM   #6
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As Gumby noted, claiming grammar police status just makes your writing a target. However it appears to me that he doesn't want perfect grammar per se, just the ability to spell and make the right word choices. That seems reasonable, and indicates an attention to detail attractive to a business like his. I profess no grammar police status, as I use commas and semicolons incorrectly, am known to say "me and so-and-so" mostly to irritate a grammar police friend, and use filler words like "that" too often. But I'm generally solid on word choice and can almost always catch a homophobe. So I get what he is saying.
I did love the book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, and gave it to my English professor sister as a gift.
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Old 07-23-2012, 05:57 AM   #7
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He's just touting his business.

I hope his tech writers are skilled at a lot more than grammar and spelling. And I would hope his business manager can flawlessly add and subtract, and his programmers understand algorithms.
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Old 07-23-2012, 07:43 AM   #8
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texting is killing grammar, isn't it?
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Old 07-23-2012, 08:29 AM   #9
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Old 07-23-2012, 09:07 AM   #10
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I am not worried about the grammar and punctuation police because.....


Nobody can do a better job than me!!
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Old 07-23-2012, 10:26 AM   #11
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I hope there are more bosses like him out there because DD is an underemployed grammar perfectionist!
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Old 07-23-2012, 11:28 AM   #12
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OK, Ms G to two too late.
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Old 07-23-2012, 12:22 PM   #13
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I would like to say that I was a stickler on spelling, grammar and punctuation; however, I know I have lost a lot of that over the years. I think it is something you have to keep at all your life if you want to be accurate even 95% of the time. These things were stressed a lot in my school days, both elementary and high school (I'm talking 40's and 50's). So was penmanship. All of this carried over into college (engineering) as I had to write numerous technical term papers along with a fifth year thesis. I think spelling is the first thing to go by the wayside. I wish I were better at it. I wonder how much these things are stressed today.
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:10 PM   #14
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I'm ok with this, I'm a very detailed oriented person. I'm not perfect but I know when to use to, too, two or then vs than or there, their, they're and I'm astounded at the vast number of people who post on forums use the incorrect word.

OMG, my next post will be 666 or will it be this edited post that was 665?
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:11 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarah in SC View Post
But I'm generally solid on word choice and can almost always catch a homophobe.
What do you do with the wretches when you catch them?

Ha
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:18 PM   #16
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While I was not a very good write while I was growing up, the one area I did well in was grammar and spelling. After taking a writing workshop class in college and a business writing class in my first few years of work, I was able to fine-tune my overall writing skills. However, while good grammar and spelling are useful skills, there is more to good writing than just that. Syntax, clarity, and usage are all subtle writing skills to help convey ideas to others. As someone who was in charge of a computer programs guide at my old job, being able to convey clearly what were often complex instructions took a lot of time but was time well spent.

I would never try to be some kind of "grammar police," though, because I would not want to be on the receiving end from any mistakes I make. And sometimes, it is not always easy to tell if a mistake is a typo of a lack of knowledge of grammar. But it does annoy me a teeny bit when I see common mistakes (its-it's, then-than, they're-there-their, your-you're).

As someone who has played in many Scrabble tourneys over the years (see my screen name?), I have seen some bad spelling mistakes (and have made a few of my own) in those games. Once in a while, though, my opponent can't spell the word correctly so I get away with it LOL!
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:18 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
I find his use of the Oxford comma to be distressing.
I'm actually a fan of the Oxford comma and found it's use to be comforting.

In my personal and professional life I do find myself judging others rather quickly if they have poor grammar, spelling, or word choice. Usage of the Oxford comma is acceptable however.
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:25 PM   #18
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Team Oxford here, too. Serial commas for you, me, and everyone else.
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:30 PM   #19
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Team Oxford here, too. Serial commas for you, me, and everyone else.
I have found it increases organization, sentence flow, and clarity.
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:49 PM   #20
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For grammar/punctuation junkies, some interesting comma questions and answers from the Chicago Manual of Style's website:

Chicago Style Q&A: Commas

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Q. In response to a question about the use of serial commas, you responded in favor of the extraneous comma with the example “With gratitude to my parents, Mother Teresa and the pope”—which you claimed created confusion. But doesn’t the same confusion arise in some cases if the serial comma is added: “With gratitude to my mom, Mother Teresa, and the pope”? Why wouldn’t you recommend rewriting the sentence in either case to avoid the ambiguity: “With gratitude to Mother Teresa, the pope and my parents”?

A. Excellent point! Although CMOS recommends the serial comma as default punctuation, writers and editors still have to think before deploying it. (Of course, we would rewrite it “With gratitude to Mother Teresa, the pope, and my parents.”)
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