Ever regretted making a typo in your resume after pressing the send button on a job application?
A recent study from Europe has bad news: It can cost you an interview, especially if you aren't applying for a white-collar desk job.
Research in Belgium published in the PLOS One journal Wednesday found that making as few as five spelling errors in a resume can reduce the chances of being offered an interview by 18.5 percentage points. Women and blue-collar workers are penalised even more.
Studies in the past have showed that resume mistakes can hurt an applicant's interview chances, but the researchers argue their study is more realistic as it accounts for just a few mistakes rather than substantial numbers simulated in past experiments. Even just two errors can cut a candidate's probability of getting an interview by 7.3 percentage points, they said.
"Recruiters disapprove of not only error-laden resumes but also, as we now evidenced, apply penalties for resumes containing relatively fewer errors," the authors wrote.
The findings were based on 1,335 resumes reviewed by 445 real-life recruiters in Flanders, a Dutch-speaking region of northern Belgium. Each recruiter was asked to review three graduate resumes, with spelling errors ranging among zero, two or five. Other aspects like an applicant's gender, hobbies and education level were also tweaked.
But not all rsums are made equal. The research spanned eight fictitious vacancies including both blue-collar and white-collar roles, such as being an air traffic controller or secretary, and found that those applying for blue-collar roles tended to be judged more harshly for resumes with five spelling mistakes.
Women were also prone to be penalised more, albeit marginally. In contrast, those who indicated doing volunteer work enjoyed a "buffering effect," with recruiters more likely to discount their spelling mistakes.
This could point to reviewers using education as an indication of intelligence or volunteering of interpersonal skills, thus being more likely to excuse spelling mistakes. Conversely, "recruiters could interpret spelling errors in a resume as a violation of behavioral norms for women, but less so for men," they wrote.
Despite the limits of a simulated setting, the researchers said the findings raise concerns about the need for making hiring procedures more fair. By surveying participants, they find that recruiters judge those making spelling mistakes to be poorer communicators and less hard-working.
One thing is clear for those looking to their next job. "Applicants-to-be should carefully scan their applications for spelling errors as these prove to be costly mistakes in the hiring process," they said.