Six Steps for Perfect Proofreading of Resumes and other Very Important Documents
Spelling is important.
Now I have to confess that I am that person. I’m the person who notices misspellings and grammar errors in emails, advertisements, blog posts, media banners - pretty much everywhere. And yes, I do judge you, just a little bit. But that’s not why it’s important.
Misspelled words, typos, and grammar errors indicate that either
You’re not careful with details and don’t care about the quality of your work or
You aren’t smart enough to know the difference between they’re, their and there (or other errors).
Yes, I know that’s a little harsh. We all make mistakes and typos in emails and quick notes. But spelling and grammar are important in any document if you want to be taken seriously. In resumes and cover letters, however, correct spelling, word usage and grammar are essential. I’ve talked with several hiring managers who automatically discard a resume as soon as they spot a spelling/grammar error or typo. They assume that if you are not careful with the details of your resume, you will not be careful with details on the job. It’s a bad first impression - and guess what? Your resume goes in the dumpster.
And so you don’t get the interview. You don’t land the job. You remain stuck where you are.
So, if you weren’t born with the greatest spelling/ typing/ editing chops, what you do? How do you proofread?
Here are some suggestions.
First of all, know yourself. Or at least, learn about yourself. What are your typical spelling mistakes? When do you leave out commas - or add too many? Do you know when to use their instead of there? It’s vs its? If you’re not sure, google it or find a friend with good language skills and ask for help. Create a cheat sheet for yourself.
Once you’re ready to start proofing, follow these steps for a perfect resume, cover letter or other document.
Six steps: How to Proofread When it has to be Perfect
First, if at all possible, complete your document and take a break. Give yourself at least an hour doing something else. Mow the grass, take a shower, wash the dishes. Do anything that doesn’t involve a computer screen or reading. Let it sit overnight if possible. You’re much more likely to spot your mistakes if you let some time go by before attempting to edit or proofread.
Print it out. You’ll want to do this for resumes anyway to check the margins and font size for readability. It’s also much easier to spot mistakes on printed paper than on a screen.
Read through the document slowly to catch the most glaring errors. That’s the easy stuff.
Scan through the document backwards - line by line. Start with the last line. Check for misspelled words, missing commas, typos, etc.
Read it out loud. If you skip all the other steps and just try this, you’ll be ahead of the game. Read it aloud to your dog or just the empty room. Read slowly. This helps you catch mistakes and also helps improve your writing. You can hear how it sounds. Is it smooth and conversational? Are your sentences awkward or confusing?
Make corrections. After correcting, reprint the document and go through the steps again. Sometimes as we fix mistakes, we inadvertently create other errors.
It’s always a good practice to have a second set of eyes read through your final draft. It’s much easier to spot mistakes when you’re not the original writer. Find a friend who is a spelling champ and have them take a look at it.
And good luck out there in resume land!
Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, Anita’s background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Anita works with people literally all over the world to help them discover a life and career they love. Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life!
For more information on creating a great resume, check out our blog post series: