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Friday 31 March 2023 Dublin: 9°C
CV via Shutterstock
# Typ-Oh
Why Google bins 58% of the CVs it receives
Attention to detail is very important.

GOOGLE HR BOSS Laszlo Bock likes to cite a startling figure: 58% of CVs have typos.

“Typos are deadly because employers interpret them as a lack of detail-orientation, as a failure to care about quality,” he says.

For Google — a company that sees 50,000 CVs a week — the typo is one of five CVs mistakes that will immediately land yours in the “no” pile.

Yet the mistake doesn’t stem from laziness, Bock says, but obsessiveness.

“People who tweak their résumés the most carefully can be especially vulnerable to this kind of error,” he says, “because they often result from going back again and again to fine tune your résumé just one last time.”

According to cognitive science, our vulnerability to typos comes thanks to the way our brains store information.

University of Sheffield psychologist Tom Stafford explained how it happens to Wired:

“When you’re writing, you’re trying to convey meaning. It’s a very high level task,” [Stafford] said.

As with all high level tasks, your brain generalises simple, component parts (like turning letters into words and words into sentences) so it can focus on more complex tasks (like combining sentences into complex ideas).

“We don’t catch every detail, we’re not like computers or NSA databases,” said Stafford. “Rather, we take in sensory information and combine it with what we expect, and we extract meaning.”

This shortcutting is part of a cognitive process called generalisation, one of your mind’s tricks for sorting through data.

When you set out to drive to your buddy’s house but end up pulling into your parking space at work, you’ve experienced generalisation firsthand — rather than actually evaluating the path you’re taking, you cruise along on autopilot since the drive to work feel familiar and easy. And since it feels familiar and easy, your brain thinks it’s also right path, even if you end up pulling up to the wrong parking spot.

It’s the same case with editing text, even if a text as crucial to your career as your CV.

You’re intimately familiar with every corner of your CV — given that you keep going back to perfect it. But that familiarity is in fact your enemy when it comes to proofreading.

To vanquish this enemy, we’re going to need some de-familiarisation.

“Once you’ve learned something in a particular way,” Stafford says, “it’s hard to see the details without changing the visual form.”

Thus you have Bock’s recommendation.

“Read it from bottom to top,” the HR boss says, since “reversing the normal order helps you focus on each line in isolation.”

Alternatively, you could make the text blurry — it increases reading comprehension for the same de-familiarising reasons.

Read: Open thread: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever put on a CV?

Read: ‘Alternative CV’ bags UCD graduate a job with Twitter

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