5 Steps to a Goof-Proof Résumé
In today's world of spell-check, texting and email, it's easy to fall into the trap of believing that a casual communication style is okay in every situation. Unfortunately, the competition is fierce in the job market and everything counts, including what you write in your cover letter and on your résumé and how you write it. While you may be the perfect candidate for the position, an HR manager might overlook you because of a few spelling mistakes. Sure, this may sound harsh and maybe not ALL HR managers would be so strict; however, you have no way of knowing who will be looking at your application or how many other applicants have applied for the same job. So, before you submit your résumé and cover letter, follow these five steps to ensure your materials are ready for even the most persnickety of hiring managers.
1. Spell Check
While running spell-check on your document is by no means the guarantee of a perfect résumé, it is a great place to start. Most spell-check programs will also look for commonly misused or confused words and highlight them for your review.
2. Their, There or They’re?
Words that sound alike but mean different things are called “homophones”, and using the wrong homophone could spell disaster for your application. When writing and reviewing your application material, pay close attention to these commonly misused homophones.
It’s and Its
The easiest way to keep these two straight is to remember that “it’s” is a contraction of the words “it is” or “it has”. In this sentence, “It’s not easy being green,” we’re combining the words “it” and “is” and, therefore, we use the apostrophe.
If you’re not combining words, don’t use the apostrophe. For example, “I am currently responsible for Great Grammar Goods’ press relations and its marketing materials.”
To, Two and Too
To: A preposition. Example: I am going to climb a tree.
Two: A number. Example: There are two apples in the tree.
Too: Also, or as well. Example: There are leaves on the tree, too.
3. Past or Present?
When writing the description of your duties for each position you’ve held, it’s important to keep your verb tenses consistent. In short, this means that you should write all descriptions about PAST position duties in the PAST tense.
Example: Created templates for company correspondence, filed invoices, and issued payments to vendors.
If you are currently working, it is important that the description for your current position be in the PRESENT tense.
Example: Create templates for company correspondence, file invoices, and issue payments to vendors.
This rule should be applied throughout your application materials, but can be trickiest when writing or updating job duties, so pay extra attention.
4. Fun with Punctuation!
While paying attention to the words you use and triple-checking your spelling are an excellent start to preparing your application materials, if you’re using punctuation incorrectly all your efforts may be wasted. When you’ve finished writing your résumé and cover letter, go back and ensure that you have all your commas in the right spots, your apostrophes where they should be, and a period at the end of each sentence. I say period here because unless you’re applying for a job as a NFL cheerleader, use of the exclamation point should be resisted.
5. Call for Reinforcements
You can only proofread your application materials so many times before you start to lose the ability to see errors in your writing. This means that you will need to enlist the help of a trusted friend, family member (Thanks, Mom!), or teacher to help edit your work. Their fresh eyes and perspective will help catch any errors you’ve overlooked and may even point out some areas that need clarification to ensure a prospective employer will understand what you are saying.