Menu, Arugam Bay. Wait for it…
I read a few CVs and cover letters a week. The cover letters are just a test, it doesn’t really matter what people say. We’re reading them to check grammar and spelling. You’d be surprised. I see maybe one coherent cover letter per month. It’s so simple, so important, yet so many people fail.
I don’t get it. I have errors on the blog, but anytime I’m asking someone for money I try to get things absolutely right. Some of these kids are dropping ‘i’s like it’s a Google Chat. Should I mail and tell these kids that ‘loose’ is not ‘lose’ and that capitalization is not a matter of whim? Just for their edification, we definitely don’t call them back.
If I do see a good cover letter I immediately walk over to HR to recommend that person, simply because they can read and write. Is it just me? Am I a spelling nerd?
Nope. Basic soft skills are important to employers everywhere, especially India.
Call centers live and die by the word. Spelling isn’t so important (unless you’re doing text/web support), but the polish of communication is – in this case, tone and confidence. Basic coherence.
Call-center company 24/7 Customer Pvt. Ltd. is desperate to find new recruits who can answer questions by phone and email. It wants to hire 3,000 people this year. Yet in this country of 1.2 billion people, that is beginning to look like an impossible goal.
So few of the high school and college graduates who come through the door can communicate effectively in English, and so many lack a grasp of educational basics such as reading comprehension, that the company can hire just three out of every 100 applicants. (WSJ)
As a first-hand example, this story of an American applying to an Indian call center (Mother Jones) is both entertaining and enlightening.
Even for engineers, soft skills are often more important than software. “The results of the analysis are consistent with the qualitative findings, which report that employers in India are trying to broaden the talent pool and develop a recruitment philosophy to hire for general ability and attitude rather than specialized domain and professional skills” (World Bank/FICCI).
64 percent of employers hiring fresh engineering graduates are only somewhat satisfied with the quality of the new hires or worse. After classifying all skills by factor analysis, the authors find that employers perceive Soft Skills (Core Employability Skills and Communication Skills) to be very important (ibid.)
Interestingly, what customers write about the business is also important. Basically, badly spelled reviews (positive or not) make a company look bad. As per Harvard Business Review:
The better the writing and the fewer the spelling errors in reviews of a product or a service, the higher the resulting demand for that product. Sure enough, some smart companies have figured out how to take advantage of this. Ipeirotis estimates that online shoe retailer Zappos has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring helpers through its parent company Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service to improve grammar and spelling in its product reviews.
The guy he’s citing did a really interesting study and said “we noticed that demand for a hotel increases if the reviews on TripAdvisor and Travelocity are well-written, without spelling errors; this holds no matter if the review is positive or negative” (Panos Ipeirotis).
The Value Of Speeling
If that effect holds true for customers, then it’s probably true for employees as well, and they’re supposed to represent your company. So it is important that they spell and speak well.
Incidentally, regarding the Arugam Bay menus above, the bumping soup is really pumpkin and the food there wasn’t very good. Or perhaps it was just the review.