Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why. From Harvard Business Review.

by Kyle Wiens


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.

Some might call my approach to grammar extreme, but I prefer Lynne Truss's more cuddly phraseology: I am a grammar "stickler." And, like Truss — author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves — I have a "zero tolerance approach" to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.

Now, Truss and I disagree on what it means to have "zero tolerance." She thinks that people who mix up their itses "deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave," while I just think they deserve to be passed over for a job — even if they are otherwise qualified for the position.

Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can't distinguish between "to" and "too," their applications go into the bin.


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7 comments:

  1. That's funny--I myself won't hire anyone who doesn't know the differences between grammar, spelling and punctuation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. As usual, Language Log responds to this nonsense.

    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4093

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "And that would mean that if my own posts are good, they should attract extremely low numbers of comments. Take a look at how many Kyle Wiens has right now, and compare with how many you see here below. My earnest hope is that you'll see a huge difference."

      Well, when "comments are closed" for the blog post, it's kind of difficult to get people to post there... OH I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE

      I groan when I see incorrect content in print or online which is presumably written by someone getting paid to do so OR should have been proofed by someone who knows what they are doing. However, there's a decline in paid positions for trained writers and journalists and communicators. And when communication in 140 characters or less is what "kids these days" are brought up doing, what does that mean for communication as a whole? Does that shift everyone else, too?

      Delete
    2. "And that would mean that if my own posts are good, they should attract extremely low numbers of comments. Take a look at how many Kyle Wiens has right now, and compare with how many you see here below. My earnest hope is that you'll see a huge difference."

      Well, when "comments are closed" for the blog post, it's kind of difficult to get people to post there... OH I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE

      I groan when I see incorrect content in print or online which is presumably written by someone getting paid to do so OR should have been proofed by someone who knows what they are doing. However, there's a decline in paid positions for trained writers and journalists and communicators. And when communication in 140 characters or less is what "kids these days" are brought up doing, what does that mean for communication as a whole? Does that shift everyone else, too?

      Delete
  3. You beat me to it, mathesian. Folks who complain about students' lack of writing skills should take a look at "How do 'today's students' write, really?" also at Language Log.

    ReplyDelete
  4. None of my in-coming students would be employed by this man. NONE. Nor would I, most likely, for using fragments in a sentence (albeit, for effect).

    ReplyDelete

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