Why Reading Comprehension is Important to Your Job Search

How many times have you had an email exchange similar the following:

Your email:  “We will be meeting at the ABC Café at 11:30am on Monday the 12th to discuss the marketing proposal attached.  See you then!”

The emails you get back:  “Where are we meeting?”, “What time should I be there?”, “What is the purpose of this meeting?”, “I don’t have a copy of the proposal, can you send it to me?”

Does it frustrate you?  Make you laugh?  Do you silently judge the person who replied?  Well guess what?  You probably do the same thing all the time, and it’s costing you more than you think.

Researchers noticed as far back as the 1970s that Americans have a reading comprehension problem, and our productivity as a nation is suffering from it.  While some people may shrug off the scenario above, it is indicative of a deeper problem, one which may leave you at the bottom of a list of potential candidates for employment.  This is because the problem extends far beyond seemingly harmless email exchanges.

What do you think happens when you fail to follow the guidelines set out to apply for a certain position at a company you’d love to work with?  Your application will be dismissed, and you will lose the opportunity.  Or, what do you think happens when you show up for your second round of interviews, and you’ve failed to bring something that was clearly requested of you in your exchanges with the hiring authority?  You guessed it; you’ve just tarnished your image as a candidate for that position.

And while you may not think of it as any big concern (after all, you can send what was requested as soon as you leave, right?), in actuality, it is a concern.  From the point of view of a hiring authority, if you hold a Master’s Degree, but are unable to follow through on simple directions such as following application guidelines or bringing particular materials that have been requested of you, then where else will you fail in the course of the position for which you’re interviewing?

Sometimes, something which seems like a small, overlooked detail can end up costing a company millions, as in the recent case with Oakhurst Dairy of Maine. They lost a $13M dollar lawsuit because of a missing comma, which led to a reading comprehension debacle that resulted in their drivers going to court to sue for overtime pay.

Don’t be the one who loses your company $13M because you misread something important.  Read everything thoroughly, and be sure to respond appropriately.  Trust me; everyone will be glad you did.