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Proofreading for Beginners

Home » Become a Virtual Assistant » Anatomy of a Winning Resume » Proofreading for Beginners
young businesswoman using laptop at home
Source: Canva

You’ve finally created that resume! Hoooraay! Do we hear that sigh of relief? Hold on! It’s NOT the end although you’re so close to it.

There’s only one final but equally important step to take – proofread your resume. NEVER skip this step!

You’re about to find out why and what to pay special attention to while proofreading and editing this precious piece of writing.

Errors of any kind are a major turn-off and therefore should NOT be found anywhere in your resume.

Stating you’re meticulous means absolutely nothing if your resume is jam-packed with typos or any other types of errors. That resume actually speaks for you more than you can imagine. Thus, beware of those blunders.

You wouldn’t like to hear something like this from your potential employer, would you?

someecards sarcastic meme
Source: Someecards.com

So, proofread once, twice, three times. Then repeat.

In a recent audit conducted by Grammarly for 50 resumes from Indeed.com, they found out that almost 60% of resume errors are grammatical errors while there are only more than 1.5 punctuation errors found per resume and a very small amount of spelling mistakes. For more findings refer to the original document.

According to the same source, recruiters usually spend less than ten seconds reviewing your resume. It means you have a very small window in which to wow them, and in this competitive job market, even the smallest mistake can be enough to knock you out of the running. Therefore…

Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.

Always check for spelling, grammar, and consistency errors as these are the three most important aspects of proofreading. Let’s see what precisely you should pay special attention to.

1: Spelling

Just because misspellings are the least common errors found in resumes because of built-in spell checkers in word processing programs, it does NOT mean you can rely entirely on a spell checker to do the proofreading for you.

It’s still advisable to go over every single word multiple times to avoid overlooking mistakes like using “their” instead of “there” or typing “manger” instead of “manager”.

NO spell check will actually notice you made a mistake because both “their” and “manger” are correctly spelled words.

Perhaps they’re just inappropriate in the context you’re using them. Only humans can spot such contextual mistakes, so make sure you always double-check every single word.

You want to avoid mistakes like this one, right?

incorrect spelling in curriculum vitae

We bet those children didn’t eat snakes but snacks.

Or like this.

incorrect spelling in curriculum vitae

Do you really cook dogs in your free time? Really? Or you just love dogs and enjoy cooking, shopping, dancing and so on?

You see? You can never be too cautious when writing.

2: Consistency

Correcting consistency errors is also important in proofreading your resume.

For instance, if you used bullet points, check if every line consistently ends with a period or not. If you used a serial comma, make sure you have used it in the entire document.

If you capitalised your previous job titles perhaps, then ALL your listed titles should be capitalised. Also, do not capitalise words randomly for pure emphasis. That’s why bold and italics options exist.

Keep tenses consistent throughout the resume. If you’re writing in the past tense, it’s less egregious to write your current job duties in the present tense, but overall it’s better to keep it consistent. While this may escape an initial scan of your resume, further scrutiny will show a lack of attention to detail.

More about the worst resume grammar mistakes in the next subsection and the article linked.

In addition, be consistent when formatting your resume. Here are some hacks about formatting mistakes that can ruin your resume and chances for getting that online job.

Unless you’re highlighting your superior abilities as a graphic designer, flashy designs and multiple font colours should be left out of your resume.

You’re trying to sell yourself as a professional, so the general rule is to keep things simpleclean, and uncluttered. Stick to basic black for your font colour.

This isn’t how you want to stand out from the crowd, is it?

Choose one or two fonts and use those consistently throughout your resume. You may want a slightly larger, bolded font for section headers and a basic font, such as Arial or Times New Roman, for the body of your resume.

Use italics or bold to emphasise words or points in your resume, rather than changing the size of your font, which can make things difficult to read.

You can use two or three sizes, such as a smaller size for your contact information, a larger size for section headers, and a basic size of 8 to 10 for your body.

Once you decide on a pattern to follow, make sure you remain consistent throughout the whole document. This helps make your resume look neat and easy to scan.

3: Grammar

A resume filled with grammar errors could cost you a job. Here are the most common grammar mistakes to watch out for when writing your resume.

Homophones or words that have the same sound but have different spellings and definitions. Some examples of homophones are “two”, “too” and “to” or “their”, “they’re” and “there”.

incorrect use of homophones
Source: Someecards.com

Confusing contractions and possessives is probably one of the most annoying mistakes people make. It could even be worse when you have this error on your resume.

If you happen to be one of those who are having issues with “your” and “you’re”, do read more about contractions and possessives until you know them like the back of your hand.

Write this up on a post-it and keep it close to you at all times:

The word “your” is a possessive adjective that describes something that belongs to a person, whereas “you’re” does not imply possession, but is only a contraction of the words “you” and “are”.

confusing contractions and possessives meme
Source: Someecards.com

The wrong use of the apostrophe is another resume writing boo-boo you should be wary of.

incorrect use of apostrophe 
Source: Someecards.com

Remember, apostrophes denote contractions or possessivesNOT plural nouns!

So, you wouldn’t say “I’ve had five job’s for the last ten year’s.” “Jobs” and “years” are plural nouns, so do NOT use an apostrophe! One job – five jobs. Just add -s to make the noun plural.

“I’ve” is a contracted form of “I have”, so the apostrophe is OK here. It’s also properly used if you want to express that something belongs to someone i.e. possession, such as John’s online store, which is a store that belongs to John.

Got it?

✔ Subject-Verb Agreement errors can be easily avoided with proofreading. So, pay attention to your subjects and verbs and make sure that they match in number and person.

Remember: I work, but he/she works. Reading and rereading it out loud is also a great way to check for these kinds of mistakes.

✔ Inconsistent use of tenses is also easily overlooked since people are more focused on the content than on its form when writing resumes.Usually, when writing a resume, you want to use the past tense when talking about previous jobs or positions you no longer hold.

When referring to your current position, you can use the present tense.

And be sure to stick with the correct tense throughout the resume. Switching from terms like “work” and “worked” haphazardly throughout the resume without rhyme or reason looks unprofessional and sloppy.

It’s a sign you may not take pride in the work you put out. Source: 5 Resume Grammar Mistakes that Can Cost You the Job

In this subsection, we highlighted only the most common resume blunders. Unfortunately, there are many more people make. Check out these articles to find out about some resume mistakes we haven’t mentioned here:

There’s a saying that smart people tend to learn from other people’s mistakes, isn’t it? Let’s be smart, then!

Learn From Other People’s Mistakes

Here are just some examples of resumes that most probably skipped proofreading. Take a closer look at them and make sure you always avoid these and other similar mistakes.

Example 1: Check this out before we say anything. How does it look to you?

sample resume profile

This is how the employer observes it taken from this source.

“Word-processing software includes the benefit of spellcheck, which underlines words, phrases and punctuation for potential spelling and typographical errors.

This feature is intended to draw the author’s attention to the words and phrases that may need to be revised.

Don L. Duck’s thoughts must have been on a big signing bonus to not notice the rainbow of colors highlighting his resume. Periods, commas and spacing appear to be the culprits in this snippet.

It should be noted these errors were not buried deep into Page 2, but were at the top of Page 1. Thanks to the digital format this resume was received, all the errors were identified for the reader.

In addition, the first two sentences in the summary do not make sense as separate sentences. When combined with proper punctuation and verb tense, the sentence reads more clearly.

The first impression formed by the reader was most likely not the impression Mr. Duck was looking to make.”

In case you didn’t find this example disastrous initially, what do you think of it now after you’ve read how the employer sees it?

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. Let’s dive a bit deeper and see what else you can learn from this example. And you can learn a lot. Take a closer look at this and think about the underlined parts. What seems to be wrong here?

sample resume profile

These are the employer’s reflections on the excerpt above.

“After a sip of water to clear the taste of vomit that came up in my throat, I continued to read this resume, now more for entertainment purposes than to determine if Don L. Duck is a qualified candidate.

It seems Mr. Duck is still employed with what appears to be a previous employer. This summary starts with “I supervise…” — the current verb tense.

If this were actually a previous employer, I think Mr. Duck would have elected to use the past tense of “supervise,” which is “supervised.”

Additionally, the clarity of his summary left me wondering what “hiring discipline pay and reviews” really is. Mr. Duck did not create an effective summary to clearly communicate all of the fantastic things he was responsible for and accomplished with this employer.”

Would you be thrilled if a potential employer spoke about your resume and accomplishments, that is to say – YOU like this? We doubt it.

It’s not the end, even now! Here’s what else the employer states after checking the candidate’s skills.

sample resume profile

“My fascination with this resume, similar to that of watching a train wreck, grew as I continued to read about Mr. Duck. I just couldn’t help myself.

Mr. Duck lists his first and probably most important skill as “Supervisory 40 direct reports.” I imagine what Mr.

Duck intended to say was that he previously supervised 40 people who directly reported to him. Mr. Duck failed to appropriately convey the significance of his most important skill.

If Mr. Duck provided this document as a sample of his attention to detail, writing skills and a best reflection of his abilities, can you imagine what he may deem to be appropriate as your employee?”

These are the words this employer uses to conclude the article we linked to at the beginning of this subsection. Read them carefully and think about them deeply.

“These same employees are communicating in various forms with customers and prospects. Ultimately your employees convey insight into the culture of what is appropriate and acceptable within your organisation and the quality of your employees.

How do you want your organisation to be perceived in the market?”

Now you got some insight into how employers think and make decisions. Use them to the fullest. Don’t let your resume be that poor! You can do it much better!

Let’s take a peek at some more not-so-shiny examples, shall we?

Example 2: Just take a look at this resume example taken from the article The 9 Worst Resumes Ever Received By Recruitment Managers.

sample resume profile

Here’s what the author says about it, and we couldn’t agree more.

“Common sense dictates that you proofread your resume before sending it. However, as it is often said, too much of anything can be dangerous. Sometimes, if you peer too closely, you may just miss out a few details.

This applicant certainly fell into this trap. Too much attention to detail and she missed out some obvious spellings.”

It’s fun as long as it’s not YOU applying for your dream job, right?

Example 3: Also, here’s a complete guide to the worst resume blunders you should be taking note of. You should take a long hard look at what follows.

sample resume profile
Source: LiveCareer – Home of America #1 Resume Builder

Is it really necessary that we add a comment after everything you’ve just read? Probably not, so we won’t. You’ve seen enough to get the point, haven’t you?

OK. But how can you help yourself? Here’s a possible way out.

How to Avoid Mistakes in Your Resume

Proofread every sentence carefully! Or don’t if you want to achieve this effect:

Yeah, we know we sound like a broken record, but you’d be surprised how many people actually let this piece of advice go in one ear and out the other.

So, decide NOT to be that person. Pay closer attention to the following handy tips on how to avoid the most common pitfalls from the article Resume Grammar Mistakes to Avoid.

Read narrative portions from the bottom up, that is, start with the last word of the last sentence and read backwards to the top. Read the whole resume aloud.

These techniques may sound silly, but it’s amazing how many mistakes you’ll discover if you try them.

Ask another person to read your resume. Ask a business or English teacher to search for resume grammar mistakes if you know one. As a bonus, that person may also point out other ways in which to improve your writing.

You can also use a resume checking service like LiveCareer’s Resume Check. It identifies 20 common resume mistakes, and gives suggestions for how to fix them.

resume check instant results
Source: livecareer.com

Perfection takes extra time and effort, but making your writing perfect will avoid resume grammar mistakes that will sabotage your chances of obtaining your dream job.

Thus, always remember to check your resume before sending a job application, either by using the free tool we linked to or finding another similar one. Also, here’s a tool that makes building your perfect resume easy.

Check it out. If you think you cannot proofread and polish, or even create it properly, don’t hesitate to consider professional help with reviewing your resume or creating it.

Furthermore, no matter how many times you’ve reviewed your resume for spelling, language, and grammar problems, you haven’t found them all.

Even if you’re document is only one page long and you’ve had five other people review it for you, there’s still a typo in there…and possibly two. Find them. Think of it as a game.

Then, why would you stop at proofreading? There’s always more you can do to level up your resume and boost your chances of getting that job, right?

Try taking the simple steps suggested in the article Six Resume Changes that Will Get You Hired Fast to perfect this precious document.

Don’t only proofread it, but edit it!

Your text and language should be impeccable. Never let a single rough phrase, accidental colloquialism, or typo work its way into your resume. This is the equivalent of walking into a fancy wedding venue with mud from the barn still clinging to your shoes.

There’s a time and a place for blunt, unpolished statements, and there’s a time to shine every word until you can see your face it in. Your resume is the black tie affair of formal documents. Don’t cut a single corner.

Remember – a great resume is a foundation for any job search and it can also decide whether or not you get the job you are looking for.

Let’s just briefly summarise what you’ve learnt in this lesson.

In Summary

Remember, a resume filled with these kinds of errors will give potential employers the impression that you’re not well-educated enough for the position or that you’re not really as detail-oriented as you claim you are.

So, NEVER let simple spelling or grammatical errors cost you a chance at an awesome online career.

Thus, don’t ever get lazy to proofread your resume introduction or your entire resume for that matter. Take time to go through it multiple times. Would you rather spend months of waiting for a reply? Or an entire day just polishing that resume?

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are spelling mistakes forgivable in your resume?

a. Yes, it’s a job opening, not a Spelling Bee contest.

b. No. They are unforgivable.

c. You should not make them, but nobody will notice, anyway.

2. Is using an apostrophe really necessary?

a. Not really, but it looks more professional.

b. No. Everybody can understand you either way.

c. Yes. For example, ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ have two entirely different meanings.

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