m-Pact Career Blog

from Marketing Talent Network

Don’t make this Mstake

Yes, the word “Mistake” in our title is misspelled on purpose in order to grab your attention.  This is not the way that you want to generate attention in your resume.  This is your advertisement, your brochure, your press release, your point-of-purchase display.  Don’t devalue yourself by being careless.

Yesterday we reviewed a two page resume that contained three typographical errors.  While any such error is a negative in a resume, two of these were special problems.

One of the three errors was a word in the text that was caught by our spellchecker — the word “relaunch” was spelled as “relauch” in referring to the relaunch strategies of a particular product group.  However, neither of the other two errors were picked up by this particular spell-check program.  One of these was a proper name — of all things, the name of one of the companies in this candidate’s job history. 

The other word was also especially noticeable since it was in one of the headers for this resume.  In addition to the typical “Work Experience” component, this resume had separated the internship experience during their MBA program into a separate section.  The header of that section included the word “INTERSHIP” in large bold capitalized letters.  This too was not caught by our spell-check system (making me wonder whether we may need to invest in a different spellchecker).

Which brings us very smoothly to some basic rules of avoiding typographical errors in your resume.

Do Not Rely on Your Spellchecker to Find all Typos:  As related above, spellcheckers do not always pick up errors.  Taking a document and running it through a spellchecker is always a good idea, but it is not enough.  It requires attentive proofreading in addition.

Do Not Rely on Only Your Own Eyes to Find Typos:  Attentive proofreading, yes.  But as with spell-check, do not make the mistake of relying on your own eyes, even if you consider yourself to be an excellent speller.  You always want at least one other person to carefully review your resume.  Why?  Our brain often does something rather special when we read something that we have written.  You see, we already know what we wrote, and our brain knows what it expects to see.  The result is a “skimming factor” that causes us to sometimes miss typographical errors, even if we think that we are being especially careful.

Do Not Rely on a Resume Service or Someone Else’s Work:  Especially with a resume service, where you have paid for a professional to assist, you anticipate a thorough and accurate job.  Guess what?  “It ain’t necessarily so.”  Although more often than not, such a service will be very cautious about checking for typographical errors, don’t assume this is the case.  We have received resumes with multiple typos only to learn later that they were prepared by a resume service.  It’s your career.  You are the individual that this resume is presenting to the hiring public.  Do your own due diligence to assure complete accuracy. 

By the way, this applies not only to professional resume services.  It is equally true if your resume has been prepared or typed by an outplacement service — and perhaps even more true if it was done by your spouse, secretary, girlfriend/boyfriend, friend or mom.  Don’t rely on someone else . . .

. . . and that includes your recruiter:  You should also not rely on a recruiter or executive search firm to catch any errors.  Hopefully any recruiters with whom you are working at least read your resume.  But scanning a resume for content and proofreading a resume for errors are two very different types of reading.  Many executive search firms are not going to go through the added step of individually proofreading your resume.

Look for Contextual Errors as Well:  One reason that a spellchecker is not always comprehensive is that some of the errors are not misspelled words.  Rather, they are the wrong words in the wrong context.  Did you use “their” instead of “there”, or did you mean “principle” or “principal”?  Even more basic, did you mean to type “thin” or “think” or “thing” or “this”?  Or something as simple as typing the word “on” when you meant “in”, or “of” when you meant “or”.  Both of these last two examples happen more often than you might think, since the “o” and “i” keys and the “f” and “r” keys are right next to each other on the keyboard.  While these may be picked up by more sophisticated proofreading tools that include grammar checks, many spell-check programs will miss most or all of these.  And because they are especially tricky to catch, they require very careful reading.

So, run your resume (and, by the way, any other documents such as your cover letters) through a spellchecker, and attentively read every word as a proofreader does, and have at least one other person that you trust do the same.  Any errors reflect poorly on you.  They can make a prospective employer feel as if you are careless — that you don’t pay attention to the details.  To borrow an advertising slogan from Hallmark Cards:  “Care enough to send the very best”, especially when a future career opportunity may hang in the balance. 

John

 

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May 30, 2008 Posted by | Tips - Resumes and Cover Letters, Uncategorized | 1 Comment