Resume mistakes are the bane of every jobseeker’s life. How many times do you think you’ve proofread something only to have someone else read it and point out an error! In the world of job hunting those mistakes can mean a one-way ticket to the ‘no’ pile.
With the auto-correct function in word processing and email packages, as well as predictive text on mobile phones, it is easy for errors to slip through in your job search communications. ‘We’re all human,’ I hear many jobseekers cry, and yes, you’re right, but in a candidate-heavy market where the employer has a great deal of choice, these mistakes can, and do, result in lost opportunities.
Some employers are more brutal than others. One or two mistakes can be forgiven, and often it is obvious to see that something in spell check has slipped through your filters. However, others will dismiss your application immediately.
Employers use your resume not only to view your skills, experience and abilities, but also to look at your ability to communicate in writing, as well as your levels of attention to detail.
I had a conversation recently with a guy who applied for a warehousing/stores role, a large part of which entailed entering and recording the movement of stock in an in-house software package. During the interview, he thought all was going well until the interviewer asked if he had proofread his resume. ‘Yes, I did’, he replied. She then pointed out three mistakes. He apologised and said he’d proofread it a couple of times. Silently, he thought the interviewer was being overly picky. At that point the interviewer explained that while his background was good and she felt he could certainly do the job, she was concerned about his accuracy. She further explained that if stock items were entered incorrectly, a product given a wrong code, or an incorrect quantity entered, the ramifications on other areas of the business would be significant. He said he did his best to overcome her concerns, but ultimately the employer went with someone else for the role. He is still feeling the sting of defeat – most of all, because it was something that could have easily been avoided.
Mistakes are often missed because you’ve typed a word incorrectly, but spell check recognises it as a legitimate word and doesn’t highlight it, e.g. spill, when you meant to type spell. You can’t rely on spell check: you need to proofread carefully, each and every word.
- Leave some time between writing and proofreading.
- Slow down. Don’t skim over words, read each and every one.
- Proofread quietly, away from distractions like television, radio, family and friends – find a quiet space.
- Use your cursor, finger or a pen to move along each word in the line; it forces you to slow down and look at each word.
- Don’t limit yourself to reading your resume on the computer screen – print it out and read it on paper.
- Read it backwards – every word, but in reverse.
- Read out loud. Hearing your words alerts you when what you have written is not what you thought you’d written.
- Change the way your document looks on screen. Perhaps, just for proofreading, use double line spacing or change the font colour. But remember to change it back before sending.
- Read a section at a time rather than the entire document.
- Get someone else to proofread the document(s).
- Repeat the proofreading process several times, preferably with a break in between.
What to check:
- Check your dates of employment for each job – is there an overlap or gap?
- Check the spelling of names of previous employers and of your referees.
- Make sure you are using the correct tense in your resume. Your current role should be in present tense while the earlier roles should be past tense, e.g. in your current role you would say ‘promote the company’s products and services’, whereas for a previous job you would say ‘promoted the company’s …’.
- Don’t forget the simple things, such as your contact details (one of the most common areas for errors in a resume).
There is no such thing as too much proofreading when it comes to your all important job search materials.
© Michelle Lopez, Owner/Career Consultant | www.one2oneresumes.com.au