You want your resume to be perfect. Every word spelled right. Every sentence correctly structured. Every item in place. Every section in the right order. If grammar, spelling, and formatting aren’t your strong suits, the best thing you can do is ask someone to proofread your resume for you. Here is a checklist to help them (or you) catch errors before you submit your resume.
Proofreading: The best way to proofread is s-l-o-w-l-y. Just glancing over the pages one final time won’t catch the type of errors that show up at this stage. A good practice is to let the document sit at least a few hours and preferably overnight before proofreading. This gives you a chance to separate from it before trying to see errors. When you pick up the document again, read it once out loud for the sense and flow of the ideas.
Grammar: Don’t bother turning on the grammar checker in Word. It will flag nearly every sentence in your resume because none has a subject.
Instead, start reading your resume from the bottom, one sentence at a time. Do the subject and verb match, even if there is a phrase that interrupts them? Are all series in parallel structure? Are your verbs all active? Do the verb tenses make sense? Have you avoided using the same verb too many times? “Manage” and “develop” are usually repeat offenders. Can each sentence be read as if it had “I” as the subject?
Sometimes, we don’t see errors as much as we feel them, so if you get the feeling something isn’t right, look again, more closely. You might find what is giving you that feeling.
Spelling: Turn on the check-as-you-go spellchecker and then look for words underlined in red. They may be misspelled. Run your spellchecker, looking closely at the suggestions it offers. Read through your document one word at a time, preferably from the bottom to slow you down. If you’re in doubt, look up the word.
Spacing: Ensure that only one space occurs between words and sentences. Check carefully after colons and periods, in case you learned earlier to place two spaces after them.
One way to ensure this is to bring up the Search and Replace dialog box, place two spaces in the search box, one space in the replace box, and click “Replace All.”
Also check the vertical spacing in your document. If you have used different font sizes, decide what size the vertical space will be after each line.
Format: Make sure your resume is created in the .doc format. Sending it from the Pages application on your iPad doesn’t work unless you convert it to the Word 97-2003 format first. If you are using an Android device, make sure your word processing application can convert a document to the .doc format.
Copy and Paste Text: When you want to copy and paste parts of your resume into an online job application, convert your resume to a plain text document first. Some applicant tracking systems will not read Word document correctly. Word is notorious for including “phantom characters” that disappear or change shape when converted to text. If you do the conversion first, these characters will show up, and you can correct them before they appear on your application. Commonly, quotation marks, apostrophes, hyphens, and dashes will be converted to question marks.
If perfecting your resume is the last thing you’d prefer to do today, contact me right away. It’s the thing I do every day!
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