Writing an effective resume requires a greater attention to detail than almost any other writing you will do. Most hiring managers assume the resume you submit is an example of the highest quality work you can produce. A mistake that would be overlooked in a typical daily email becomes a major detractor on your resume. This makes proofreading your resume a critical step.
Eliminating spelling and grammar mistakes sounds easy, but can be very difficult. Most people find proofreading their own work extremely challenging. They know what they meant to write. A missing word, use of the wrong word or a misspelling can be overlooked with even repeated proofreads.
There are steps you can take to avoid making mistakes. The first is using spell check. When I get a resume and open it in Word, any misspelled word is underlined in red. The mistakes are essentially highlighted and jump off the screen. Errors like this will make the worst impression. It is so easy to identify and fix an error that is underlined in red on your screen that few hiring managers will be forgiving.
You may not have Microsoft Word. If you don’t, other word processors have spell check. OpenOffice is a free office suite anyone can download. It is very similar to Microsoft Office and can save files in a Word format. If you don’t have a good work processor get OpenOffice or Microsoft Word.
If you are submitting your resume online, you may have to copy it into a form. Few forms come with spell check. There is a solution. Install the google toolbar and add the spell check button. This will spell check any form fields in your browser.
Limitations of Spell Check
Even if you use spell check, it is still easy to make a mistake. There are four common mistakes:
Typos Resulting in the Wrong Word: If you type the wrong key and spell a different word correctly, spell check will not catch the mistake. For example, typing “k” instead of “d” in “word” will result in “work.”
All Caps: Some programs do not spell check words in all caps, since a word in all caps is often an acronym. On a resume, many job seekers use all caps to emphasize important elements.
Common Mistakes: There are some words that are commonly misused. For example, “affect” and “effect” are very similar, but have different usage.
Omitted Words: When typing quickly, you may skip a word. For example, pronouns, articles and prepositions are short and can be missed when editing a sentence. When proofreading, it is easy to not look at these words and assume they are there. For a reader unfamiliar with the text, omitting one of these words is a mistake that is easy to see.
Read Out Loud: A good way to proofread your resume is to print it and read it out load. Go slow and read each word individually. This is tough. You have to concentrate on each word.
Read Backwards: To make it easier to concentrate on each word, read your resume from the bottom up. Read the last sent first. Then move up to the second to last sentence. Keep reading each sentence individually, from the end to the beginning. Reading each sentence by itself, you are more likely to concentrate on each word and not get into a flow that will cause you to overlook mistakes.
Change Your Surroundings: If you always work on your resume in one location, go somewhere else to proofread. The change of scenery can make it easier to focus on text as it is written on the page.
Get a Proofreader: Get someone to proofread your resume. Ideally, you will know a good writer that is an expert with resumes review your resume. If you don’t know some like this, you can hire someone to do a resume review.
To ensure your resume is error free takes work and multiple reviews. Some job seekers don’t have the patience for this or don’t realize the importance.