Proofreading Tips for Job Seekers

Professional Resume

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With so many job seekers applying for jobs today, employers can be very picky during the hiring process. The smallest typo on your resume, cover letter, or other application materials can prevent you from getting an interview.

Therefore, it is important for you to proofread all of your application materials before sending them to an employer. Below are a few tips to help you proofread thoroughly.

Don’t Trust Spellcheck

While spellcheck can help you spot obvious typos, it misses a number of common errors. For example, spellcheck does not notice if you write “your” instead of “you’re” – one of the most common resume and cover letter mistakes. Therefore, be sure to thoroughly edit each document yourself.

Take a Break

Do not edit your resume, cover letter, or other application material immediately after writing it. Take some time away from the document; this will allow you to edit with a fresh set of eyes. While a 24-hour break is ideal, you might not have that much time if you’re facing a deadline. Even taking a couple of hours away from the document before editing it will help.

Print it Out

Proofread a printed copy of your resume, cover letter, etc., rather than looking at your document on a computer screen. You have likely been looking at the document on a computer screen for a long time, and a printed version will help you see the document with a fresh set of eyes. Printing it out will also help you see the document as the recruiter will see it. This way, you can see and fix any awkward page breaks.

Read out Loud (and Backwards!)

Read your document out loud while you proofread. It will force you to slow down while you’re reading and pick up on any errors. Many editors also recommend reading backward (edit the last sentence first, then the second-to-last, etc.). Not only will this also slow down your reading, but it will break up the logical flow of the document, allowing you to focus on the spelling and grammar.

While you read out loud, you can also follow along with your finger. This will help you focus on each word.

Narrow Your Editing Criteria

It can be hard to edit for both grammar and spelling at the same time. For more thorough editing, only edit one type of error at a time. For example, do one proofread for spelling, one for punctuation, one for verb tense, one for the format, one for factual information, etc. While this might take a bit more time, it will help you catch every type of error.

Check for Consistency

Many people simply look for spelling and grammar mistakes when editing, but you should also make sure your layout is consistent.

First, make sure that your font size and style is the same throughout the entire document – if you cut and paste sentences, you might have different fonts within the same document, which looks messy. Of course, in a resume, your font sizes might be different based on whether you are writing a headline or a bullet point. That is fine, but make sure that you are consistent – all your headlines should be the same font and size, as should all your bullet points.

In your resume, also make sure your grammar is consistent. For example, if you capitalize all the words in one headline, make sure you do the same for other headlines. If you use complete sentences in one bullet point, do the same for all the other bullet points.

Proofread Personal Information (For You and the Employer)

Many people simply skim over their personal information (name, address, email address, etc.). However, a mistake in this information can prevent an employer from being able to contact you. Therefore, check this information thoroughly.

Also be sure to proofread the information you include about the company for which you are applying. Make sure you spell the employer’s name and company name correctly, and that you get their address correct. Also, make sure you say the correct company name! If you copy and paste a company name into a cover letter, for example, you run the risk of pasting the wrong name.

Review these guidelines for what to include in your resume so you're sure you have all the information you need in yours.

Ask a Friend

People who are less familiar with a document can often see errors more clearly. Ask a friend (or better yet, a couple of friends) to edit your document for you. Encourage them to follow these tips listed above for a more thorough editing job.