Bloopers that Attack Your Resume

Spell-check is a great thing. What did we ever do without it? Spell-check is also a curse; it’s imperfect and we rely on it too much. A resume is too important to trust it to spell-check alone. Human eyes on words are needed when proofreading a resume, preferably human eyes that have a good grasp of grammar.

We tend to read what we think we wrote, especially when we work on documents for long periods of time or documents which have many iterations. How many hours have you spent on your resume? Most people devote over twenty hours to working on their resumes. At some point, things blur together and words start to lose meaning. When that happens, errors are overlooked and grammar demons have a feeding frenzy. Here are some of the most notorious offenders:

Homophones – Remember these? Your teacher probably taught these to you as “same sound” words. Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings and are spelled differently. Some examples are “hear vs. here” and “right vs. write”. In a resume, you often see these masquerading for each other in the forms of “their vs. there” or “led vs. lead”. Spell-check usually doesn’t catch these because they are not misspelled, just misused.

Verb tense errors – Resumes are written in past tense. Experience, by its very nature, happened in the past. Job descriptions and achievements should be written in past tense, but it is easy to slip into present tense when you are thinking of what you did in a job.

Similar words – Words that are very similar in spelling but have different meaning can be the nails in the coffin on your resume. The most common offender is “manger”. It’s a common typo of the word “manager”. Spell check won’t catch it because “manger” is a perfectly spelled word. Another, probably more embarrassing similar word, is “pubic”. It sometimes comes in place of the word “public”. Again, spell check is useless to find this error and unless you are really looking for it, you won’t see it on cursory inspection either. Unfortunately, it seems to jump out at the hiring manager and you often see this one on “resume bloopers”.

Incorrect email address or phone number – Which is correct – 983-1001 or 983-0001? You can’t tell, right? Even if you knew what the number was supposed to be, the error would be hard to find. It is really important to slow down and read each number and the email address on your resume very closely. Wrong numbers and email addresses that bounce will kill your job search.

Beyond mechanical and grammatical errors such as those listed above, outdated techniques can sink your resume, too. Resume styles change over time. What was “in” in the 70’s is obsolete now, forty years later. A sure way to brand yourself as a dinosaur in a world of “dynamic, results-oriented professionals” is to have a resume that is out of style. Be careful of the following outdated resume techniques:

Document title – A resume is no longer labeled “Resume of” at the top. Employers recognize a resume without it having to be labeled.

References provided on request – Employers know you will provide references when requested. Everyone does. It’s expected.

Hobbies and Interests – Employers don’t care if you were the hot dog eating champion of your fraternity or that you like to collect butterflies. Don’t waste the space on your resume with hobbies.

Personal information – Not only is information such as date of birth, marital status, children or health condition irrelevant, it can result in your resume being eliminated from consideration altogether. Employers do not want to see this information about you on a resume, and they are often compelled by their legal departments to throw your resume out if you include it.

Typing speed – Typewriters serve as boat anchors these days. “Typing speed” is not a modern term. It also does not benefit to list things like “able to use a fax machine” or “shorthand”.

Double check your resume for any of these bloopers and make sure you have corrected any that you find. Your resume has to represent you well if it is going to be effective. Mechanical mistakes and out-of-date techniques communicate negative messages about you and will eclipse the great skills or experience you have. Remember, employers are excluding resumes when they are screening candidates. They are weeding out those resumes that show any problems. Don’t be a victim of “manger” or “like to play shuffleboard”.

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