Do I Expect Too Much of Job Candidates?

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
Let's say you are hiring for a QA or QC Inspector or QA Technician position, 1-3 years experience kinda person, HS diploma required, 2-year degree or tech school preferred. Or even a manufacturing position requiring a similar level of education and experience. Company offers competitive pay, full benefits, and generous PTO.

Is it expecting too much to expect a cover letter and a resume with correct punctuation, grammar, spelling, capitalization, etc?

I am told a cover letter is no longer an expectation of companies and thus 98% of applicants don't do one.

It's been awhile since I have hired -- have things changed that much?
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Cover letters are less common than the used to be. When I last looked for a job about 3 years ago the general guidance was keep your cover letter short, unless there was something you needed to talk about that was not a good fit for a resume. Some sources said you did not need a cover letter, but I figured for a quality engineer position a cover letter was a good idea; plus it showed I can write.

I found a few big company websites don't have space for a cover letter. You either make it the first page of the resume attachment or leave it out.

The economy has been strong until the uncertainty of the last few weeks, so good people are hard to find in many places. Also, are you sure your pay and benefits are truly competitive?

Three years ago I left a company in company meetings claimed they had competitive benefits (could have been knowing BS or ignorance) and started my new job with the same PTO as I had after 10 years at my previous company, lower cost healthcare with lower deductibles etc., and a much higher salary than my previous job (same job title), plus nicer people etc.

An interesting test would be to advertise a job with and without a salary range and benefits, and then advertise a similar job or a second position without that information and see what happens. If you get fewer responses with the salary and benefits, then, unless you think the economy or something else is a factor, maybe your compensation package is not as good as you think.

Also, what is you company's reputation? If you got a poor reputation a few years ago, it is likely still affecting you today.


Fully vaccinated are you?
Staff member
Cover letter - Yes, at that level I understand few people do them these days. Among other things people these days do not see a job as a permanent thing, My opinion of course.

As to correct punctuation, grammar, spelling, capitalization, etc., I would expect that but to be honest I visit some tech forums and I cringe at many people's spelling (not to mention grammar) - Even people who code for a living. Then again, many are not native english speakers. Only being proficient in English myself, though, I can't complain because of the number of people who are at least bi-lingual.
As an additional thought at this moment in time: COVID19 Layoffs Start to get serious in the US.


A Sea of Statistics
Super Moderator
here is errr here are my two Euros worth....grammar, sentence structure and spelling are non-existent...regardless of the form of communication, grammar sentence structure...spelling are essential. This is true for supposed respected sources and websites...strange stuff

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
Consider if excellent spelling and grammar are essential to your candidates being able to do their jobs well.

The email “covering” the resume should respect your time by being concise and to the point.

Again, competence or the potential for competence is the name of the game.


Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Cover letters are, from my perspective, usually at higher level positions now. Those individuals tend to be "old school" meaning they were part of that group that always included them, plus it's a more formal hiring process.

For entry level type positions, I don't expect a cover letter.

For a position in a quality-related field, I expect proper grammar and punctuation and spelling. We're Quality...not Koalaty...if we (and our team members) don't walk the talk, how on earth can we be expected to instill a culture of quality throughout an organization.

That said, one or two minor mistakes, I may be willing to overlook - it depends on the context. If they cannot, for example, properly spell quality, that's an issue. If it's a missing 'a' or 'the' in one of their Experiences/Accomplishments...I'd likely be willing to overlook it, especially if their experience/accomplishments are impressive.

Ed Panek

QA RA Small Med Dev Company
Staff member
Super Moderator
I would expect a cover letter for a Manager or higher level. If their resume doesnt quite fit the JD a cover letter might also be helpful. As far as spelling errors thats a problem for me.

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
When I write a resume I hone it to perfection, or as close as I can get. I have a second person proofread it. I figure I have one chance in the form of a page or two to show this person that I am qualified and competent AND that I care enough to get it right.

I used to get 30-40 resumes per position opening and if there were errors I would trashcan it. I understand it is a different game today, but nevertheless when I see basic punctuation, grammar, spelling, and/or capitalization errors I wonder if the person cares -- it goes to attitude and professionalism, IMO.

But yes, this person would be corresponding with customer QA people and I'd like the writing to reflect professionalism.


Quite Involved in Discussions
Biggest problem is probably if an algorithm is the thing deciding the recruiting. Being passed over for a job is one thing but if a computer program is deciding your fate instead of a manager or a recruiter its a bit of a kick in the teeth.
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