Proofread Your Resume: How to Win the Application Game

April 2nd, 2013 | Articles, Resume | No Comments »


Proofreading your resume & cover letter are key to the success of your application. To keep them looking sharp, here are a few tips to use as you revise and improve these critical documents.

No one enjoys writing resumes or cover letters. There are no avid resume recreationalists who get their kicks by condensing down their work history into a one to two page highlights reel. As a job seeker, you write resumes & cover letters for a strictly functional purpose and, when you bring your first drafts to a close, you may be tempted to ship them off across the information super highway without so much as a second thought. Gratifying as that may be, your hard work & effort can end up as worthwhile as a freshly minted wooden nickel if you fail to proofread first.

Though not every hiring manager is going to be a stickler for English grammar rules, you never know how nitpicky he or she will be. Some may forgive an error or two. Others may practice the “one & done” method, discarding a resume at the single sign of an error in grammar, spelling, or word choice. So, keep your eye out for what sticks out – relying on your early years hunting down a fugitive Waldo – and follow these proofreading tips.

Step away from the resume!
When you finish your first draft, allow your words time to settle. Do some quick research. Solve a short puzzle. Let your mind drift down a different promenade of thought. Do whatever you need to do to give your brain an Etch A Sketch shake up and clean your mental slate. That way, when you return to your work, your perspective will be fresh. This is essential since often, when job seekers attempt to read resumes or cover letters that are hot off the presses, they unconsciously overlook errors or fill in omissions that would otherwise stick out in someone else’s work.

Change the format!
After looking over your application documents for long spurts of time, your words may begin to bleed together. One way to break that up is to change the way your words are displayed. Vary up the appearance by making a temporary change in font type or character size, giving your eyes a refreshing change of scenery. If the screen, after an extended period of time, feels as if it is burning permanently into your retinas, print off a physical copy and find better results as you step away from the light.

Keep focused!
Good proofreading is all about focus. Any word that seems fine with a quick strafe might buckle under increased scrutiny. Grammar and tense issues tend to sneak by if your vigilance drops for just a second. One great way to stay focused is to read your resume aloud, hearing the errors as you speak. Plus, you can better adjust the voice of your writing, trimming out ungainly phrasing that could tank your resume or cover letter midsentence.

Another technique is to follow your proofreading with your finger, hovering over each word as you read it. That way, you can avoid the temptation to mentally auto fill the correct verb form or word. You will find you are less inclined to gloss over your writing when your eyes are zeroed in on every word.

Narrow your search criteria!
To cut down on clutter and competing ideas, split your searches into several different categories: grammar, word choice, factual information, punctuation, sentence structure, and verb tense. Then, read through your resume with only one category in mind. When you push other concerns to the background, your errors will soon stick out like a mariachi band in a monastery, increasing your overall efficiency tenfold.

Your written words are your first representative to a new employer; give them the power to make a good impression. Proofread your work with a clear head and a fine-tuned focus on little details. That way, when hiring managers are considering people to interview, you’ll stick out for all the right reasons.

by James Walsh

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