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Résumé Writing Roadblocks

Caution: Résumé Typos Ahead!

Job Seeker's Story

With a background in computer science and networking technology, Douglas was confident his résumé would open doors for him. He had hastily prepared a one-page résumé after a recruiter contacted him in need of a Network Engineer with Cisco IOS and Intrusion Detection software experience. Doug e-mailed it to the recruiter in eager anticipation of the conversation that would follow. At the top of the résumé Douglas highlighted “Network Engineer with Crisco and Contusion Detection experience.

Charles, a recently laid off manufacturing engineer, posted his résumé on Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com six months earlier, but had only gotten contacted about sales jobs, which were not his job target. In the Summary section of his résumé, Charles had emphasized required keywords for his desired position, industry, and functions. These keywords included: Industial Engineering, silicon medicine producks, regulatory complance, resource alocation, and team ledership.

Needing a powerful introductory statement for her pharmaceutical-sales résumé, Sherry highlighted her experience in “medical transition” (she meant “medical transcription”) and “vetinary product sales.” Sherry did have a unique and attractive background for pharmaceutical sales, but her rampant typos and grammar mistakes throughout her résumé convinced the employment reviewer that she simply could not communicate well. This was seen as a fatal flaw in her candidacy.

As with Sherry, Kenneth's résumé and cover letter were rife with misspellings and incorrect grammar. As an Editorial Assistant, hoping to move up the food chain to Editor at a large professional association, Kenneth had never been told the real reason for his being “let go”: The Editor-in-Charge could no longer tolerate having to correct Kenneth's copy for every weekly newsletter. It was just too much work! Consequently, Kenneth continued to rely on job-search documents that were plagued with grammatical and spelling errors. When Kenneth finally consulted with a professional résumé writer for advice, she counted no less than 35 typos and grammar mistakes in his one-page résumé!

Job Seeker's Stumble

These job seekers are all guilty of résumé slaughter and subsequent interview inactivity due to the most-often-cited reason employment reviewers give for dismissing a résumé: typos and grammatical mistakes. In fact, according to a 2006 survey by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service, 84 percent of hiring executives indicated they would eliminate a candidate from consideration for two typos; 47 percent said they would do so for only one typo!

Job Seeker's New Strategy

Your résumé is the first opportunity you have to make a stellar first impression. There really are only two other options: make no impression at all by not being distinctive in any way from your competition, or stand out by making a horrible first impression. Neither of these two options will garner job interviews.

Whether due to ignorance, laziness, or hastiness, résumé mistakes are the entry point for elimination and, unfortunately, too many job seekers do not make it past that point. So, what can you do? The obvious spell-check and grammar-check tools in your word-processing software are there to be used, but do not rely on them alone. Proofread your résumé carefully line by line; in fact, you may want to read it line-by-line backwards first just to catch spelling and grammatical errors. Then read it again in normal order to evaluate how the wording flows from one sentence to another. It does matter that you make sense!

Ask friends, family members, or professional colleagues who you can trust to read and honestly comment on your résumé as well. Not only will they help you in detecting typo and grammar “land mines” in your résumé, but they can also provide valuable feedback regarding wording and sentence structure, completeness of expression, clarity of ideas, gaps of information, and impact of your wording (or lack thereof). You will likely be astounded that what you thought to be a “perfect” résumé is actually laden with mistakes needing correction. Be wise: Do not omit the proofreading step. To do so means your résumé—and job search—are at peril.

One last note: Turn off the grammar-check and spell-check feature in your word processing software after you have successfully completed the proofreading and correction step. Because a résumé is written typically with fragmented phrases, rather than full sentences, you will want to eliminate the green and red wavy lines that will undoubtedly appear throughout your document. This is a reader-friendly step and is a clear signal to the reviewer that you are socially aware of others and show consideration.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesJob Search, Job Interview Questions, & Job Interview TipsRésumé Writing Roadblocks - Be Selective And Careful With Your Résumé Content, Caution: Résumé Typos Ahead!, Oh, The Tangled Web We Weave…