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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Bad spelling 'puts off employers'
Good reading and number skills are vital for most jobs
Three-quarters of employers would be put off a job candidate by poor spelling or grammar, a survey suggests.

Hertfordshire University found bad English alienated 77% of the 515 companies it spoke to - more than twice the 34% annoyed by CV exaggerations.

The biggest draw for potential employers was relevant work experience, mentioned by 46%, followed by a "good work ethic" (43%).

A university spokesman said practical skills were "absolutely key".

Degree status

Only 24% of employers interviewed said they were interested in a candidate's class of degree and 14% in the reputation of the university they had attended.

A Confederation of British Industry survey last year suggested that 42% of employers were unhappy with reading, writing and numeracy skills among school-leavers.

A CBI spokesman said: "These days, employers are looking for more than just good grades and a relevant degree when recruiting.

"They rank relevant work experience highly, and expect candidates to be able to communicate well and show that they are highly motivated too."

The Hertfordshire University survey found almost one in five recruiters would decline to interview candidates without relevant work experience.

Anusha Everson, the university's director for graduate employment, said: "It's clear that gaining real-life work experience as part of your course, or on your own initiative, is an absolutely key requirement for students getting ready to go to university this September."

We asked for your views on modern spelling and grammar. Here is a selection:

Absolutely no doubt about it that spelling has got worse. Many young people seem to think it is acceptable as long as the word sound correct, like "two" for "too" or affect for effect or loose for lose etc. Its a bit like a bridge engineer arguing that it doesn't matter if a calculation is just wrong by a little bit. It does matter. It matters a lot.
Tom McAra, Glasgow

I work in a personnel department and see so many spelling errors on application forms. I can't believe what some people send in - people can't even spell the job title they are applying for. It doesn't surprise me that employers are put off by bad spelling, it not only shows a lack of basic skills but also a lack of attention to detail and self awareness (if you know your spelling is bad, get someone to check it before submitting the form). Has spelling and grammar become worse? I think this is irrelevant - what matters in an application form is the ability to impress and you won't do this by misspelling words.
Jake, East Morton, UK

Spelling and grammar have become steadily worse since the introduction of GCSEs and a focus on "expression" rather than correct use of English.
Peter Allen, London UK

I think that the standard of grammar and spelling had deteriorated quite significantly. Perhaps this is due to things like texting where you tend to abbreviate. I get very annoyed with emails where the sender hasn't bothered to capitalise properly or use good punctuation it seems to say that they really aren't bothered. It is bad enough at a personal level but not to take care when applying for a job doesn't convey a very positive attitude. My feeling would be that if someone can't be bothered with their spelling and grammar at this stage what chance is there that they would be conscientious about the quality of their work.
Pauline, Cupar, Scotland

I receive many CVs from people of all ages, many of which are full of the most basic spelling and grammatical errors. Shockingly, it seems that those from young people are often seen by school or college tutors, who help with the drafting of them. If I have the time, I send the CVs back with the major flaws highlighted, and never invite the senders for interview - after all, if they can't (or can't be bothered to) get their promotional material up to an acceptable standard I can have no faith that they will perform any better in the workplace. Sad, but true.
Ian, Sandbach UK

I do a lot of recruitment as part of my job. For most positions I get about 150 CVs sent in for about 6 vacancies at a time. When I read through the CVs first time round, I'm looking for reasons to reject the applicant, bad spelling and grammar are near the top of my list. As soon as I can reject those not suitable, I can spend more time reviewing candidates that have prepared a good quality CV. If a candidate can't be bothered to check their spelling then they are not going to be bothered to do a good job for our company.
Andy Young, Bedford, UK

Employers may say they are put off by bad spelling or grammar, but they clearly don't refuse to employ someone on that basis. Almost all the e-mails and letters I receive from agencies, banks and other organisations have such silly mistakes in them; and as for online property adverts, I think I've yet to see one without a spelling mistake in it. Are managers perhaps too scared to correct their employees' errors?
Toby, Bristol, England

Deteriorated? Don't make me laugh! - a quick read through the Have Your Say pages will tell you. It's mostly the result of laziness, poor teaching and lack of respect for the language, unless half the population is educationally subnormal or dyslexic. Pull yourselves together!
Marcia, London

It's definitely got worse. My own theory is that the first generation to have been utterly failed by the education system has now worked its way through its Mickey-Mouse media studies courses - and into the media, which now serves to corrupt the next, equally uneducated, generation by example.

The standard of writing on this website has plummeted in recent years. I pity anyone trying to learn decent English from BBC News - and if the BBC is in that state, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Ed, Cheshire, UK

Spelling and grammar - the keys to understanding the written word - have definitely got worse in recent years. However, when I saw that a teacher's correction of my nephew's attempt to spell "cheetah" had been spelled "cheeter" I realised that it is worse than I had thought.

I understand that not everybody is a good speller or able to punctuate correctly, but anything that is for public consumption should be checked by someone who is or can. Spell-check does not always suffice, as it will not pick up words spelled correctly but used in the wrong context. My solution? Any business that publishes material or uses signage with incorrect spelling or grammar should have to give a free item or service to anyone who points it out. (This website is not immune...)
Howard Collins, Burgess Hill, England

One of the great poets of the 20th century - WB Yeats - was a hopeless speller.
George Healy, London UK

Don't forget about the people with learning difficulties. I have really bad dyslexia and even with hard work my spelling still remains pretty poor. But this does not affect my abilities to work. You cannot not hire someone who is disabled based on there disability if they can do the same job just as well.
Matt, Staffordshire

It's not just that people can't spell or write; what's worse is they don't care, and aren't interested in correcting their mistakes. I've offered colleagues explanations of how to use apostrophes, their/there/they're and other common mistakes, and they can't be bothered to learn. It's simply not important to them; I suspect the legacy of decades of poor education practices.
Rory Choudhuri, Shenley, UK

Spelling and grammar might have become worse, but what is more interesting that of the 75% of employers I would estimate a majority have poor grammar and spelling. To have those employers assess candidates' literacy is somewhat ironic.
Chris Hayes, London UK

My boss leaves mis-spellings, wrong "their"/"there" etc in scientific papers for publication. It annoys me immensely that he doesn't even care!
Anon, Surrey

You're means you are and not your. This must be other peoples pet hate too.
D Canfora, Richmond, London

Without a doubt. Errors are widespread. A 'top' estate agent is marketing a house as 'definately one to view' with its 'seperate dining area' and a high street shoe shop is promoting its sale with the banner 'once their gone their gone'. I regularly receive emails from senior managers asking 'if your free to attend a meeting'. These examples and many more originate from people who should know better, or should have been taught correctly at school.
Shirley , Ashford, Kent

Yes it has got worse. Tesco has "ten items or less" and M&S advertised underwear with "glamorous" mis-spelled. The BBC allows "amounts of people". My pet hate is "summink" for something.
Malcolm Rigg, Crowthorne Berkshire UK

I agree that spelling is getting worse. I read a lot and have noticed errors creeping into books which haven't been proof-read properly and it spoils the enjoyment of the book as the errors are glaring.
Katharine, Scarborough

These days, there's no excuse, really. You cannot spell? That's what a spellchecker is for. And if you haven't got a spellchecker, that's what a dictionary is for (kids would call that "old school," I am sure).

I ran this through a spell checker, so if there are any errors, please blame Bill Gates.
Inaya, Chicago, USA

Definitely got worse. As a foreign speaker of English, I cannot comprehend why English grammar isn't taught in schools; I often have to correct my (native speaker) students' mistakes. Informal speech in e-mails, internet fora, text messages, etc. is one thing, but work-related material and coursework should be proofread and spell-checked before submitted. Recently I spotted a poster on a mobile phone shop window which read "The Summers Latest Style's". It was a professionally printed poster, which must have been seen (and approved) by several people before being distributed to the shops, and yet nobody spotted the two mistakes. And neither did the shop manager when I pointed them out and told him what an awful image of the company it gave. Nor did he care.
Patricia, Leamington Spa, UK

CBI says education still failing
05 Jul 06 |  Business
Third of adults 'not learning'
22 May 06 |  Education
GCSE skills test options set out
03 Mar 06 |  Education
Quiz: Spelling is not child's play
02 Dec 04 |  Magazine

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