Learn how to proofread your resume like a pro with these resume tips.
If you're currently looking for a job, chances are you've come across some version of the phrase “Excellent verbal and written communications skills” in the list of job requirements for a position. Regardless of the role they are filling, employers want candidates who can effectively get their point across — and your resume is one of the first things they'll use to evaluate your communication skills and candidacy. Don't let a silly typo create a bad first impression and cost you the job opportunity.
Tips for proofreading your resume
Print it out
Our brains don't read words on screens with as much detail or care as they do when the words appear in print. Once you've edited your resume on your computer and done an initial review, print out a black-and-white copy and give it a more thorough review.
You may even want to print your resume in a completely different font type. For instance, if your resume is in Times New York or Cambria, try printing it out in Arial or Calibri. This subtle change to your resume format will make it easy to pick up on typos you may otherwise miss. If you decide to try this proofreading tip, be sure to make a copy of your resume and change the font in the second file so you don't mess up your original format.
Use a highlighter or colored pen to mark any changes you want to make so your notes are easy to find when it's time to edit your resume once again.
Read it out loud — and backward
While it may feel awkward, reading each word of your resume out loud calls attention to awkward phrases and misspellings you may otherwise overlook. If you find yourself stumbling over your sentences as you speak them aloud, chances are the hiring manager will have the same problem.
Once you've read your resume out loud, reread it, word by word, starting at the bottom of the document and working your way back up. This technique works well when you're trying to catch stray spelling mistakes that spell check didn't pick up.
Ask a friend for help
Have a friend — preferably one who writes for a living or studied English in college — review your resume for contextual spelling mistakes, missing punctuation, and inconsistencies in your resume format. This is also a great opportunity to put your edited resume through what I call the “friend test.”
Ask someone who doesn't work in your industry to review your resume for no more than a minute. Then, take the resume away and ask that person to tell you what type of position you're targeting and why you're qualified for such a role. If your friend isn't able to easily and quickly answer the question, chances are your resume needs some more editing to effectively communicate your career goals and qualifications.
Go beyond spell check
Thanks to the advent of spell check, actual spelling errors are not as common in resumes these days. However, some programs still don't recognize contextual spelling errors — for example, you meant to say you're “attaching” your resume but typed “attacking” instead — so don't rely solely on them to proofread your resume and cover letter. For added help, check out tools like Grammarly, PaperRater, and Slick Write to help you catch the subtler writing mistakes spell check may overlook.
Use a professional resume-review service
Why go at it alone when there are resume-writing professionals available? Many resume-writing services like TopResume offer a free resume review. All you have to do is submit your resume for a free critique and wait for their objective feedback. In addition to providing resume tips on the content of your resume, your TopResume professional will also tell you how applicant tracking software — the robots companies use to screen and filter your resume before passing it along to a human for review — reads your resume so you know if your resume effectively explains your career goals and skills and will make it past this initial electronic review.
In today's marketplace, there's no excuse for handing in work samples, resumes and cover letters, or any other communication related to the job-search process with grammatical errors and typos. If you're not a natural writer, or you're struggling to craft the right resume, seek help from a professional resume writer.
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