Remember when vacancy announcements carried this line: “Apply in own handwriting”? Here is a question for all human resource folks and recruiters who required that an application be made in applicant’s own handwriting: exactly what do you look for in an applicant’s handwriting? Sure, some jobs require that one has a good handwriting. For example, clerks who made handwritten entries into those long black Government ledgers (think Ardhi House records) needed to write legibly. Or the calligraphers who inscribe names on pre-printed awards and certificates. It is a bit of a stretch, but may be good handwriting comes in handy for a cake decorator. But if a guy’s job is to crack eggs and pour them into the cake dough mixer all day long, it is hard to see the connection between his ability to write in cursive and being a reliable, self-motivated egg cracker!
I read somewhere that handwriting can tell more about your character and personality than your mother and siblings combined. The way you dot the “i”s and cross the “t”s can allegedly smoke you out as an impatient sloppy person, and not the detail-oriented, attentive-to-details team player a corporation is looking for. How is that even possible? Is that not what astrologers purport to do? That, apparently, is the whole science (some say pseudoscience) of graphology. Not to be confused with forensic handwriting analysis. The latter is what a handwriting expert would do while, for example, examining documents to determine forgery.
Graphologists swear that theirs is a tried and tested character assessment technique that can, among other things, help companies to recruit people with personality and character traits that match desired skillset. They can tell if that egg cracker is given to absentmindedness, so that they end up putting the eggshells in the mixer and the eggs in the trash. By the way, ladies do that in the kitchen all the time. I have shelled peas and put the pods in the pot while throwing the peas in the trash…
So exactly what can graphologist tell from my handwriting? Here is a sample. If you write in small letters, you are shy and an introvert. If on the other hand the letters are too big, you are not only extroverted, but you also love attention! If your letters slant to the left, you shy from limelight and work best in quiet environments. I suppose that would be a good person to hire for the boiler room or cellar! If you slant letters to the right, you enjoy new experiences and opportunities, including meeting new people!
I am a sceptic, but let’s assume that there is credibility in that whole graphology thing. The question still remains: how many companies ever retained the services of a graphologist to analyze the handwritten applications? Hands up all you HR folks! Other than what might be plainly obvious from a handwriting, for example, that an applicant writes neatly, which by the way, anyone can manage after practicing ten times, why the handwriting requirement?
If any handwriting analysis was done, how, pray, did all the embezzlers and other riffraff end up in the workforce? Did they all write in cursive, as if they were looking for new opportunities and experiences? What purpose, if any, was ever served by having an application in own handwriting?
And was handwriting ever required for folks in the medical field? Because they would never make the shortlist! They neither speak nor write in English. Listen to a conversation between two medical people, especially if they are talking about work, and you will get a headache, or feel really ignorant. Or both. As for how they write, I have always wondered whether doctors are hired in spite of their handwriting or because of their handwriting.
I was convinced, until quite recently, that doctors write in Pitman shorthand. Remember that exclusive alien writing that was a reserve for secretaries way back then? Whatever became of Pitman shorthand, I wonder. I came to learn that medics have good reasons for their illegible handwriting. First and perhaps most important, they are busy people, so they are writing on the fly. Secondly, they write in Latin, that language that is the reserve of scholars and intellectuals. Lastly, not only do they write in Latin, it is mostly in abbreviated form, meaning that even if they typed out prescriptions, for example, we would still be clueless.
Back to handwritten applications… Someone suggested that handwriting exposes applicants with crappy spelling and grammar. My take however, is that anyone who types ‘Hae’, ‘Tym’ and ‘gudnite’ would sooner do the same in own handwriting, which is even more annoying. It like a congenital condition!
Hopefully no one requires that applications be made in handwriting. After all, Facebook will tell you more about a potential employee than all graphologists combined. If someone purports to live in London, but their daily posts are from my village , Wiyumiririe, and you care about honesty, throw the application in the trash. Do the same with the application from that attention seeker who keeps posting ‘It is well’, or ‘I must be dreaming’, without responding to the 57 commenters who want to find out if everything is OK. Attention seekers are energy thieves. They will suck every last joule of energy from everyone in the office. Also the narcissist posting 17 selfies a day as though their phone is welded to their palm is perhaps not a great employee. They will need that hand to get some work done.
But should you learn from Facebook profile that someone is an Arsenal fan, hire them. They will be loyal to the organization in bad times and in BAD times.
I am not dismissing graphology all together. But in my opinion, they are in the same bucket as palm readers and astrologers. They are not at the bottom though. That is reserved for whoever writes those Fortune Cookies one-liners; “Chance meeting today will open a new door for relationship”4