(by Ken Lambert) – A few days ago I noticed a post on LinkedIn by a professional there, insinuating that spelling is not a big deal, and that proper spelling shouldn’t really matter any more in the business setting. The point of the post was that correct spelling was a bit archaic, so 1950’s prep school, etc. Spelling does not directly relate to what you need to know in order to function at your job, so- who cares?
Initially I was going to just let that post pass me by, but it stuck with me. Hence, this brief blog article.
In my opinion, and after having spent roughly 25 years in the business world, proper spelling in work documents or messages certainly DOES matter, and it is important. I am maybe a bit biased regarding this, as I have been a professional writer and volunteer editor for various magazines and publications. That said, hear me out.
Spelling correctly is much easier now than it was 20 years ago. Microsoft not only has “spell-check” but it also has grammar and syntax auto-tools which help you use the correct word in a sentence. Think “there” versus “their”. Both are a correctly spelled word, but they can often be used in the wrong place. Given the fact that creating a document with no spelling errors is much easier than in the past, we should essentially never even see a misspelled word in a business/work document.
I feel that the “texting” attitude has crept into proper business communication, in many cases. No problem in a text with your friends to have misspelled words, shorthand, slang, etc. But you need to switch gears when representing yourself and your company in the professional world.
I’ve reviewed thousands of communications and documents from clients, partners, vendors, coworkers, and potential new employees. I have also read through many websites…. too many. If I notice a misspelled word (especially more than 1), I instantly assume that they are careless and/or unprofessional. In either case it is a turn-off and generally it hinders a professional or working relationship.
What do hiring managers think when they see someone’s resume with two spelling errors on it? I’d like to hear some opinions- but I’d think that does not bode well for the applicant.
I do believe that some of this is generational. It is likely that Millennials and Gen Z’s are more accepting of various spellings. Baby boomers and Gen X’ers are likely to have a similar attitude to mine.
So take a minute, and check your writing and spelling. Actually “edit” your proposals and specifications. It may seem like a waste of time, but for many readers (and managers) it is not a waste or meaningless nuisance.
Rant is now over. But somewhere perhaps my middle school English teacher would be proud!