Out to Put a Dent in the Multifamily Universe

Bad Grammar No Hire

I typically see two camps when it comes to bad grammar. The call-you-out-on-twitter-in-front-of-the-world-grammar-masters-of-the-mike brewer grammar and property managementuniverse. And the people-who-couldn’t-care-less-on-Tuesday-after-5p-masters-of-fluidity. Count me in that group for the most part. It’s just not something that rings my bell. It doesn’t make me think more or less of you if you can use the word circumlocutory property in a sentence. Or if you misuse its where an it’s should be. I don’t judge your ability to be exact or precise based on your ability to put to words together in a sentence. But some people do.

I ran across a post over at Harvard Business Review titled I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why. and it took my head spinning in a thousand directions. No offense to the author but I did hurl some insults. Not attacking him personally but rather self-remarking on his premise. A premise which is very sound by the way. At least as it relates to the line of work he hires people for. But the article is not the truly interesting part. The sum 3000+ comments  the article has loaded up is fascinating to me. They are all over the board grounded in both awesomeness and masterfully inane anti-brilliance. I really urge you to click over and read a few hundred of them if you have the time.

What Would You Do

I’m not the first to admit that grammar is important. More well put, it would likely rank very low on my list of qualifying attributes for deciding to hire someone. Call me crazy but some of the hardest (smartest) property management people I have ever worked with or for are grammatically challenged. That is up and down the chain of command if you believe in such a structure. And I would not deduce it to lack of attention to detail. They just have a challenge with the written word.

How about you? Would you take the hard-line approach that the author of the article takes:

On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?

Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s,” then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.

Or do you take a more relaxed all-encompassing approach in your hiring decisions?

Your really curious about the grammar conversation multifamily maniac,


About Mike Brewer

Out to put a dent in the multifamily universe. Love compelling conversation...

  • If the applicant has overall solid grammar skills but struggles with a few concepts, I could work with that. But if your cover letter or inquiry letter is riddled with mistakes, I have no need for you. It’s a horrible first impression. Additionally, you have to think about how that person will represent your company or brand.

    Thinking further, perhaps it also depends on the position. If you are required to write a lot, then you better have above average grammar skills.

  • This has become a frustration point for me. We have a lot of written communication in this business, and if you can’t write a letter, an appropriate email, or even a Facebook update then I have a problem with it. I remember when I interviewed with Toyota coming out of college part of the interview was responding to a dissatisfied customer via written letter. This tested a number things. Proper formatting, grammar, and the ability to communicate a difficult message were all challenged. I can’t tell you how many letters, emails, or even flyers I see that have glaring mistakes. People need to be responsible for their communications. There should be no excuse for it.

  • I am clearly way late to comment here, but you know this is an important topic in my eyes. While I don’t agree with kicking someone out of your office when their resume is a grammar nightmare, I certainly agree with it potentially being due to lack of attention to detail or lack of education. And both of those are extremely important in many jobs today. I have seen some horrible e-mails and Craigslist ads, and every time it makes me think – do they even care what they’re doing or who they’re representing? I guess if it’s just a personal blog spilling your guts, maybe it isn’t necessary. However, in the event of wanting to represent yourself as an authority on a specific topic, I fully believe it’s imperative that you put your best foot forward in all aspects, including grammar. Compelling content is key, but proper grammar is a very close second.