How to Proofread Your Resume More Effectively

proofreading your resume

We all know how important it is to ensure the final resume product is perfect.  This is one area that cannot afford to be overlooked.  Believe it or not, it’s not uncommon to find many mistakes after you read the resume the first time.  Learning how to proofread a resume will help you find those critical errors.

After you review the document so many times it starts to blur and you can miss something glaring. However, even one misspelled word or grammatical error can cost you an interview. Perfection is the goal when it comes to resume writing.

Having someone else check your resume and cover for you is a great way to make sure everything is perfect. Before you do that though, here is a checklist for you to follow on your own:

How to Proofread Your Resume for Spelling & Grammar

Perhaps the most egregious mistakes are made in these two areas. The following is some guidelines to make sure you are delivering a error free document:

  • Use a dictionary / thesaurus when you write. If you are not certain of how something is spelled, look it up. I also recommend getting a copy of the Little Blue Book of Grammar.
  • Be careful of tenses on your resume. Your current experience should be in the present tense. If you are using a combination paragraph / bullet format the paragraph portion of the current role should be in the present tense; make all of your bullets in the past tense.
  • Be sure to capitalize all proper nouns.
  • Make sure you write numbers and dates in a consistent manner. Numbers one through nine should be spelled out. 10 and above should be written in numeric format.
  • If you start a bullet with a number, that number should be spelled out.

Don’t trust spell-checker:

  • While doing a spell check is helpful, it is not a panacea. There is no substitute for the human eye.
  • Many words are part of the English language and can be missed by spell-checker.
  • Manger, loose, and principle are all technically correct, but on a resume, they may be typos for the words manager, lose, and principal.

Using Punctuation in Your Resume

Punctuation is another area where people seem to make a lot of errors. All punctuation should be consistent throughout the document.

  • Whether or not you choose to use periods at the ends of the bullets in the resume is not the issue. The issue is that if you use them, they need to be present throughout the document. CONSISTENCY IS KING.
  • When writing quotes the punctuation goes inside the quote – not outside.

Consistency:  Whatever you decide to do on your resume you must present it in a consistent format.

  • If you bold a title, all of the job titles should be in bold. If you write a date in the following manner: November 2007-December 2009, all dates should be written the same way.
  • Make sure that the spacing of your document is the same throughout. Font size and style should also be the same to avoid the resume looking scattered and disorganized.
  • When using acronyms, first spell out the words and put the acronym in (parentheses). You can then use the acronym going forward.

Resume Design & Layout

If you think that the design and layout of your document is not that important – you are wrong.

  • Do not use a tiny font that people cannot read except with a magnifying glass.  Can you read that? It says: tiny font.
  • If you have enough compelling and relevant content to fill two pages, go for it. There is no law on the books dictating how long your resume should be. My old college professor said a written document should be like a bikini – long enough to cover the topic, but short enough to remain interesting.
  • Do not over use italics, underline, bold or other features that will make your resume distracting.
  • Put your name, phone, email and address at the top of the page. On page two your name, phone and email should appear. If the two pages are separated, the reader will know that the second page is yours.
  • For physical copies you should use a high quality linen or bond paper in cream or white. The cover and resume should be printed on the same paper.

Don’t Forget to Proofread Your Contact Information

  • As obvious as it may seem, pay special attention to the accuracy of all of your contact information.
  • Make sure phone numbers and emails are correct on both resumes and cover letters.
  • Be sure to include your name, phone and email on page two of the resume, in case the pages get separated by accident.

While it is always preferable to have a professional writer and proofreader correct your resume, learning how to proofread your resume more effectively should help you to focus on the most important items to review for accuracy.

By presenting a resume that is error free, you will dramatically increase your chances of getting an interview and be one step closer to getting that new job!

President of Careers Done Write, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career road maps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries.