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Monday, July 23, 2012

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

If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.
That's how Kyle Wiens begins his blog. He writes that everyone who applies for a position in his two companies must take a writing test -- salespeople, our operations staff, and our programmers:
Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can't distinguish between "to" and "too," their applications go into the bin.
Wiens notes that people at his companies write for a living. But he contends that use of correct grammar is relevant for all companies; that it makes good business sense:
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.
He also maintains that use of grammar reflects on a person's other abilities and willingness to prevent or fix mistakes:
I've found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts. ...
Applicants who don't think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren't important. ...
And so he gives a "grammar litmus test" to all job seekers:
All applicants say they're detail-oriented; I just make my employees prove it.
I'm posting this article because I think Wiens makes sense. 
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This article is featured today (July 23) in Garbl's Style: Write Choices -- available at the Editorial Style tab above and daily, free email subscription.

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