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CAREER COACHING TIP OF THE WEEK: Proofreading a Resume

I have spoken with a number of recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers. They often tell me that they would like to see better resumes.

Here are some typical recommendations for improving resumes:

  • There are too many typos, misspellings, and errors in punctuation.

One HR specialist told me that she read a resume with 20 typos on the first page. Her comment was, “If the applicant did not take the time to review and fix the resume, I will assume that the resume is an indication of how the person might behave on the job – potentially turning in sloppy work.”

  • To help prevent typos, misspellings, and errors in punctuation, here are some tips:

When I am working with a client to develop and then edit a resume, I read it from the bottom up, backwards, and with a ruler, or I use my finger to move from word to word. These methods slow the reading process and help in identifying errors. I also read it aloud to determine if something sounds funny or causes me to ‘trip’ over words.

By reading from bottom to top, I am focused on content that normally gets read last. Since content at the top of the resume gets read first usually, by reading from bottom up, then content that may get glossed over, gets read.

I look for consistency in bullets, fonts and font size, colors, spacing, dates and headers, periods at the end of bullet statements (or not), and any other formatting requirements.

It is also helpful to ask a friend or family member to read the draft – many times a second pair of eyes can quickly spot a typo or grammatical issue.

Don’t forget, when spell checking using Word, it cannot always pick up on misspelled words, e.g., filed versus field; manager versus manger; report versus retort, and many more.

  • No focus or fit.

Recruiters and hiring authorities want to see a good-fit resume for specific positions. They are inundated with resumes for positions that require specific skill sets and minimum qualifications. However, many applicants assume that they meet enough of the job requirements, or they say, “If given the chance, I can do the job. I can learn it.”

However, when a recruiter is reviewing potentially hundreds of applications, they do not have the time or manpower to review resumes that are either generic, or within a completely different job area of expertise than the posted announcement.

Try to find good-fit positions where you meet the minimum qualifications. This will help the HR professional in reviewing the resumes and help prevent disappointment on your part, when you do not get a response and wonder why you were not called in for an interview.

  • Generic Resumes and Cover Letters.

Many applicants submit generic resumes and generic “To whom it may concern” cover letters. Also, many applicants forget to remove information meant for one company before they apply to the next company.

So review resumes carefully, and double check to ensure they are addressed to specific companies and specific people with targeted headlines that draw attention to a specific job. For example, use a headline that says: “Accountant” versus a headline that says, “Seeking a challenging position with growth potential.”

Job seekers will benefit from carefully proofreading resumes, and ensuring content is specific and targeted to specific jobs, companies, and cultures. 

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