Failure to proofread leaves job applicant furious

A little while ago the SMH carried an article by Tom Cowie, reporting events after a lawyer hired a resumé writing company to write her job application for a government agency. But when both parties failed to spy numerous mistakes and the lawyer wasn’t granted an interview, a lengthy legal stooshie ensued.

The lawyer said she had ‘sent some documents’ through to the resumé writing company to help with her application, including a previous CV. Preparing for an overseas holiday, the lawyer requested the completed resumé arrive the day before applications closed, and the company duly complied. However, the required covering letter didn’t arrive until the next day – just 45 minutes before the lawyer was due to start her trip. Now running very late, the lawyer ‘didn’t have time’ to check her application before uploading it.

It was only after her return that the lawyer proofread the application she’d submitted. Her subsequent 136-page complaint to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) claimed her CV was ‘littered with errors’, including inconsistent formatting; referring to her by a different name on the bottom of her resumé; referring to the agency by the wrong name; and a response to selection criteria that was 400 words over the allowed limit.

The owner of the resumé writing company agreed errors had been made but claimed they ‘could have been fixed in five minutes.’ She also pointed out that job outcomes weren’t guaranteed. VCAT awarded only a partial refund to the lawyer, noting that whilst the resumé writing company had failed to provide services with ‘due care and skill’, they nonetheless were ‘entitled to some recompense for services.’

What lessons can be learned here?

1. Never, ever fail to perform a thorough proofread. Quality control is vital, so to put your name to something you haven’t personally checked is a high-risk strategy indeed.

2. Submit well ahead of the deadline. Whether you’re submitting a job application, a tender bid or an award submission, always allow more than enough time for you or your team to perform a thorough last-minute check. You’ll not only avoid errors but reduce the stress induced by grappling with unexpected computer glitches common to online submission systems.

3. Word limits are there for a reason. Full and automatic disqualification of any entry or submission that breaches the all-important word limit is the norm. So, stick to word count limits!

4. Liaise with your writer. If someone is writing content for you, whatever its purpose, don’t restrict communication to email and text. Speak to them. Your conversations will give your writer deeper insight. This means they can then create clear and compelling content.

For help with copywriting, proofreading or editing any of your business documents, contact Proof Communications on 02 8036 5532 or 0411 123 216 or
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