No Room for Errors

I’m a stickler for excellent grammar, correct spelling and proper punctuation when reading something even as mundane as a cereal box. And I’m amazed at how often I find errors on these boxes, and on other professionally written documents. I’ve seen advertisements, brochures, websites, business cards, flyers, and billboards – to name just a few – with errors that detract from their effectiveness. Items promoting a product, service or person should, by all rights, be error-free. And so should your resume.

In my last column, I suggested having someone read and edit your resume for phrasing, grammar, punctuation and spelling long before it is sent to prospective employers. Even if you have the best talents, the most outstanding education, the just-perfect work experience, and the right contacts, a badly edited resume speaks volumes about you – and perhaps about your future job performance. “But it was just a misspelled word!” you say.

Yes, and that’s one misspelled word too many. Even when you’re in a hurry to finish updating your old resume so you can send it in application for that super job you just heard about, stop and reread it. And read it again. And then have someone else read it as well. Choose folks with an eye for detail, and whose critique you’ll respect.

Your resume is your entrée into an interview. It’s your one chance to make a first impression, and to get your foot in the door. The interviewers – hiring manager, HR director, organizational head, other staff – will review your resume with a fine-toothed comb, looking not only for skill sets and experience, but also for detail orientation and accuracy. Most of us have seen more than a few resumes, and it’s not hard to separate the well-written, well-edited ones from those prepared with less care.

Putting aside my perfectionist tendencies, I know that mistakes can and will happen. Even the best editors miss things, and frankly, after sitting at a computer screen for hours, it’s easy to overlook something. Don’t beat yourself up, don’t despair, and don’t call/write/email/fax the prospective employer with your corrections. Say a prayer that he/she overlooks any errors. Correct the problems, and move on. And maybe find another good proofreader!


This article was originally published in Dick Wray Associates e-newsletter.