How Important Is Your Handwriting On A Job Application?

handwritingScott Petullo is a graphologist, so naturally for this interview I typed out some questions and e-mailed them. It seemed the safest route for asking an analyst just what might be read into our job applications by potential employees.

My objective was to find out about how sloppy handwriting might be perceived by a layperson, and what people generally think of those who don't dot all the i's and cross all the t's; but I learned a lot more.

Check out our Q&A with Petullo.

Q. If I were to fill out a job application by hand, I'm afraid it would be thrown away based on its appearance alone. I have noticed a massive deterioration in the legibility of my handwriting over the years; I don't even write grocery lists, anymore -- it's all in my iPhone. In your professional opinion, should we all practice our handwriting?

A. Although people aren't writing as much as they used to due to computers, I believe almost everyone can still write, even those who just graduated from high school. Even if they use only printing and not cursive, their script can still be analyzed. It's very doubtful the ability to write will become totally obsolete, in my opinion. I recommend handwriting analysis as one of the most effective forms of personality analysis in existence.

Even though you may believe your handwriting has deteriorated, in my view it's doubtful it has deteriorated to the point where you can't assess it thoroughly through the following indicators (these are just a sample of the over 300 I use): baseline; capitals; connectives; connectivity; consistency; contradictions in script; compression; contraction/expansiveness; down-strokes; ductus; elaboration; expansion; finals; fluidity; form; harmony; hooks; jabs; knots; lead-ins; legibility; loops; margins; movement; organization; originality; personal pronoun I; pressure; retracing; rhythm; shading; signature; simplicity; size; slant; overall arrangement and picture of space; letter, word and line spacing; speed; spirals; tension; ties; zonal balance and much more.

Q. What are some popular misconceptions about signatures and psychology? For example, people think John Hancock must have been conceited; some people don't understand how or why artist's signatures changed drastically over the years, and such.

A. The most significant misconception, in my experience, is that a signature alone can be used for a comprehensive analysis. That's a false notion. Signatures are only reflective of persona. Besides, many people have a public signature and private one (e.g., famous people).

Your signature (and how it relates to the rest of your script) is only a fraction of what is analyzed. At least a half page handwriting sample is best to properly analyze handwriting.

I have been asked, "If artists can alter their handwriting when they want, doesn't this mean it's not a useful personality assessment tool?"

If a person is applying for a job and they are told that as part of the hiring process they will be asked to submit a handwriting sample, and the sample directions list the following (among other requests): "The writing sample should be done in your normal writing style while you are comfortably seated at a table or desk. If you habitually print, then please also include a paragraph of cursive writing. If you normally have several styles of writing, you may also include samples of each," then chances are they will not attempt to alter their usual script. Even if they do, a good analyst can spot affectation and bluff. By attempting to significantly alter his or her writing, the writer also would risk misrepresenting themselves to the detriment of appearing to not be a match for the job.

Q. What should job applicants avoid when handwriting a job application? (i.e., red ink, writing in all caps, or...?)

A. Any color ink is fine, in my professional opinion. But it's important to use a regular ball-point pen to get the most accurate read (not a felt-tip, for example -- and the usage of such gives hints to personality in itself). They should write as they are most comfortable.

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