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Have you proofread your resume enough? Follow these steps

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Imagine the hard-working job seeker.

Diligently at work at her computer, she is typing, thinking, typing more and formatting. Perhaps she is creating a great resume in anticipation of applying for a job posting deadline coming up soon.

Now imagine the resume going to the employer where it reaches an administrative staff member who sees a typo or (worst-case scenario) the company name spelled incorrectly, and immediately places the resume on the “no” pile.

Imagine the job seeker screaming.

Yet, this happens all the time. In our enthusiasm to get a resume finished and completed, we rush through the proofreading stage and we miss hard-to-see errors like “you” when we mean “your” or “it’s” when we mean “its”. The tragedy of the tiny typo can be avoided by following these simple steps:

  • After you have completed your resume, walk away from it for at least an hour. Be advised that you will not want to do this. You will ache to send it right away, but don’t. Give yourself an hour or more to be away from it. Overnight is ideal. Then go back and read it again. Your eyes will be fresher and you will see things you missed.
  • Read from the bottom up. Rather than reviewing the resume top to bottom, start at a bottom section and move up. This also reveals errors that you might miss because of what you expect to see.
  • Print your resume and read it on paper. This is an entirely different experience than reading on the screen. On paper, you will catch mistakes you missed.
  • Ask a trusted family member or friend or employment counsellor/facilitator to read over the document, but specify that you want him/her to check only for small errors. At this point, you don’t want to overhaul your resume entirely. Be clear that you want their criticisms but only small things that you can fix quickly so that you meet your deadline. For bigger revisions, make a plan to talk later for other applications.

When you continually target resumes to match jobs, you are often able to weed out all the tiny errors that you missed in earlier resumes. However, when you keep customizing the same starting document or “master resume”, you also have the chance to make new mistakes.

These types of errors happen to everyone. I have a friend who once wrote her telephone number incorrectly on her resume. Luckily, her email address was correct and the organization was able to call her, get the right phone number and schedule an interview. Happy ending: she still got the job.

Another happy ending: she always double checks her phone number on resumes she sends out now because she realizes how incredibly lucky she was that the employer didn’t just give up.

Life makes us stronger at proofreading, but so does the development of some responsible proofreading habits. Use these four easy steps to help your eyes find small mistakes that have big penalties in a job search.


Gwen PawlikowskiAbout the Author:
Gwen Pawlikowski is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who has also worked as an ISSofBC employment counsellor with newcomers. She lives in New Westminster and loves the diversity of the Lower Mainland. Please click here for information on ISSofBC’s career services.

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