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A French love affair... with graphology (bbc.co.uk)
26 points by gadders 1691 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments

It is becoming very, very rare. Given that the source for the 50% figure is graphologists, I wouldn't give it too much credit. As a french person, last time I heard about someone that needed a handwritten cover letter was in the early 2000s. At least in the tech circles this is definitely something unseen.

> At least in the tech circles this is definitely something unseen.

There's a scarcity of tech people, so it would be ridiculous to add yet another level for rejection. However I may imagine that this could be used for some jobs with high ratio of candidates to vacancies (so called "beauty contests").

Same here, my very first cover letters were hand written, but only because it was "how it's supposed to be". I don't know if tech companies ever cared about it. I used to be stressed because my handwriting looks like 16th century cursive and I didn't want a graphologist to put me in the "pompous ass" category (I'd prefer that to happen during the interview!)

Nowadays my cover letter is either the body of the email or a attached PDF (a good way of filtering recruiters who insist on getting Word files so they can edit them.)


I was looking for a job (found one) and nobody asked me a handwritten cover letter.

I think this is quickly going the way of the dodo.

> And just because we cannot measure its success rate using mathematics or statistics - that doesn't mean it is not a valid tool.

Wrong. It means exactly that.

Usually when something is not statistically relevant you can also prove it. I am not sure how you would do it in this case.

It probably works to some limited extents: for example, I am sure they can guess rather accurately whether the candidate is male or female.

So I do see a difference between a non valid tool and a tool whose efficiency is hard to evaluate.

Now, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't use graphology.

No different to the American love affair with Myers-Briggs. People love superstitious rituals - especially when they're drenched in the language of science.

Or polygraph (lie detector) machines, widely used in the US, but considered unreliable pseudoscience in Europe.

What's wrong with Myers-Briggs? One shouldn't spend too many thoughts about it, but I find the test results to be quite stable and fitting for me and many peers. Combine that with the idea that diversity is good, and that there is no right and wrong in personality.

I'm from Europe, had some courses on MBTI and I liked it. Not sure if the American love affair goes way beyond that.

MBTI has been roundly rejected by scientists and psychologists - its "results" are no more stable than astrology. Just the same as Graphology. My thoughts on it are at http://shkspr.mobi/blog/2012/12/astrology-for-businesses/

It has been widely debunked.

Many employers take this stuff seriously, so someone who may have otherwise gotten the job gets rejected on the basis of a fantasy tool.

Companies are dumping off money that could be used for hiring more people or intelligent investments that create jobs, but billions of dollars are being wasted on something that is about as useful as The Secret.

If you want to shake your head, go ahead and apply online at places like Target, Walmart, or Starbucks. Each application takes over one hour to complete the questionnaire part. So, not only is it a massive money dump, it is a time vampire as well.

MBTI shouldn't be used for recruitment, as the official MBTI guidelines mention because it's too easy to cheat.

It's a tool to assess the difference of personality within a team, detect potential weaknesses and to communicate about it.

I wonder how long until the headshot photo requirement is finally put to rest. The only use I've seen for it is a bunch of guys ogling over female CVs, basically trying to hire the prettiest or least ugliest candidates; actual qualifications be damned.

I learnt about this practice from my girlfriend who is from France and was quite surprised by it. She, on the other hand, was surprised by the American practice of asking about race and ethnicity on various official forms.

This. One policy is voluntary and is to ensure companies aren't racially discriminating during the hiring process. The other sort of puts you all out there and there has been lots of news made about reducing discrimination by removing photos, names, and addresses so hiring managers can only focus on your qualifications.

As an american I sort of prefer the American method. The checkbox means ethnicity is measured so you have a metric. The french system sort of assumes equality (it's in their motto!). With plausible deniability you can say you don't discriminate and no one can argue against it.

Asking for head shots is common practice in Los Angeles as well.

I don't know if this is exaggerated, but the requirement of handwritten letters or the presumption on the part of the job prospect that there is such a requirement is certainly still true.

I remember a friend, that was trying to find a part time student job as a clerk, writing literally a hundred different motivation letters all by hand.

At the time I found it odd and I questioned the sanity of requiring a motivation letter for a retail job, now that I read this I understand what the motive behind it could be, and I find it even odder.


I wonder if I could make a fortune in France by writing some software that looks for patterns in typing cadence. The employers could get applicants to type something on a computer and get a score indicating what their 'personality' was like.

This is just stupid and I can't imagine it not being exaggerated. (I'm not french obviously)

I can't write (anything longer than a few phrases, anyway) and soon nobody will. Why if you type all the time?

This is as useful in 21-th century as using bird intestines to predict weather. We have better ways now, indeed.

"I can't write (anything longer than a few phrases, anyway) and soon nobody will. Why if you type all the time?"

I type all the time. Code, reports, all that sort of thing. I also get through about two A4 sized daybooks each year full of handwritten notes, plans, observations, minutes, analysis, calculations and all that sort of thing. The convenience and (relative) permanence of writing on paper using a pen is huge. It's not going to vanish anytime soon.

Handwriting is quite handy, as the level of technology required is very low. One can do it in almost any circumstance.

I type all day, but I can still write well enough.

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