How to Avoid Errors in Your Resume

Create an exclusive dictionary for yourself in Microsoft Office.

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Miriam Salpeter
Miriam Salpeter

One of the fastest ways to lose a job opportunity is by submitting a resume with typos or spelling errors. In a competitive market where employers have a choice of qualified candidates, many hiring managers toss out error-laden resumes and choose the most perfect documents to review.  

It can be difficult, even for the most skilled writer, to proofread his or her own resume. It’s easy to overlook mistakes, especially those not picked up by spell-check programs. For example, listing you were “manger” instead of “manager.” Since manger is a word, spell check won’t point out this mistake, and you could send in a resume with a silly error.

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I headed up the career center at a school of public health. You can only imagine how many of my students were touting their credentials as something slightly indecent! (Think public without the “l”!) Other words you may miss: their/there, and/an, faculty/facility, board/bored.

One tip to consider: create an exclusion dictionary in your Microsoft Office program. This personalized dictionary will flag a word as misspelled (such as manger), even though the main dictionary knows it as a proper word. 

Roleta Fowler Vasquez is a certified professional resume writer and owner of Wordbusters Resume and Writing Services. A member of several professional organizations, she has collected many tips and tricks to help anyone writing a resume avoid those killer resume errors. The following are her suggestions to avoid proofreading errors:

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1. Highlight smaller sections in bright colors, like yellow or green, then read them.

2. Change MS Word’s background color from white to another color.

3. Increase the size of the screen to enlarge the characters so you can see them better.

4. Read sentences backward and forward.

5. Read the document’s pages in reverse order. Words seem to pop out at you when they are out of sequence or context.

6. Print a hard copy and use a tube highlighter to mark the mistakes.

7. Read sentences aloud; this helps catch omitted and duplicate words.

8. Use on-line spell-checkers like www.orangoo.com and www.spellcheck.net in addition to MS Word.

9. Use MS Word’s thesaurus along with its spell-checker.

10. Enlist the help of a friend with good proofreading skills.

11. Hire a proofreader!

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She suggests the following to improve your proofreading skills:

1. Never proofread when you are tired.

2. Read everything, from newsprint to comic books to classic novels. The more you read, the more exposure you will have to correctly spelled words.

3. Identify or circle typographical errors in your local newspaper while enjoying a cup of morning coffee. It is a good way to wake your mind.

4. Write, write, write...then, proof, proof, proof. Practice makes perfect. 

She suggests the following books for anyone interested in learning the art of proofreading: The Prentice Hall Handbook for Writers, 4th Ed. (Prentice Hall, out of print) and The MLA Handbook. Fowler Vasquez suggests reviewing the Writers Digest website to identify other titles targeted to people hoping to improve their proofreading skills. She suggests reviewing this website with 30 of the best on-line dictionaries.

It is well worth your while to take the extra steps to double check your work when putting the finishing touches on your resume. If you can avoid even one mistake, it might make the difference between a chance at an interview and being tagged as a careless applicant.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success. Connect with her via Twitter @Keppie_Careers.