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Spelling Bee

Jeffrey J. Potoff potoff at chem.umn.edu
Wed Jan 12 10:41:28 EST 2000

Arthur Sowers wrote:
> On 12 Jan 2000, Placid Ol' Dingo wrote:
> > Arthur Sowers <arthures at magpage.com> wrote:
> >
> > > 1. Life is too short for spell-checkers, and
> > > 2. If you deal with people who spend more time worrying about _spelling_
> > > than the _content_ in the message, then you are wasting your time.
> >
> > Which has absolutely nothing to do with why prospective post-docs who
> > exhibit bad (or 'non-standard' if you prefer) spelling or grammar *will*
> > be at a disadvantage when job hunting in a competitive market.
> >
> I have never heard any information that people like Bill Gates, Donald
> Trump, etc., got where they are today based on spelling abilities. I never
> was good at spelling and never will be.
> I have heard from many sources that: i) good work ethics, ii) being
> drug-free, and iii) knowing how to think a little and knowing a few things
> will contribute to not only a job offer but job security.
> I don't remember anyone in the last eight years I've been on this NG
> reporting after an interview that they were given, first thing, a spelling
> test and were told, before going further, "You flunked our spelling test,
> therefore you don't get the job."

I think you're exaggerating a bit.  Everyone makes spelling mistakes now
and then, and a job search doesn't start with a spelling bee.  However,
obvious grammatical and/or a large number of spelling errors do have a
negative impact on the way the content of whatever is written is
perceived.  When I see things like this, it sends a signal that the
author wasn't careful, and if they're not careful about what they write,
how can I be sure they are not equally careless about everything else
they do ?  

In this case you could argue that it's usenet, the original poster
didn't care and hence just wrote whatever popped into his head.  I
highly doubt employers are cruising usenet to see who writes with
correct English, but at the same time it gets annoying to read posts
from people who type in a "stream of consciousness" format with no
punctuation or capitalization. 

> I have heard a few remarks that a poorly written cover letter and
> CV/resume, or one with lots of spelling and grammar mistakes will not get
> any sympathy by a reader, so those are the places one should be doing the
> proofreading and using the spell checkers (and maybe even getting another
> person to proofread what you are producing).

Yes.  I find the best spellcheckers are other people who have no idea
what I've written is about.
> Or.... did you mean something else when you wrote your sentence above?

See, it is important to write well.  Otherwise the message gets lost in
the noise.


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