You only have one chance to make a first impression, so after writing and revising your resume, don’t forget the final step: careful proofreading. Typos and spelling errors on your resume can quickly undermine your chances of getting the job. Luckily, catching errors and improving your resume is easy to do when you know how to edit and proofread. By learning and using the following tips, you will add valuable skills to your toolkit.

  • Proofread your resume using a printed copy rather than relying on a screen. Our brains don’t read words on computers, cell phones, or other screens as deeply or with as much detail. The black ink can be easy to miss, so use a colored pen in order to see your marked changes easily.
  • Using your finger as a pointer, read one word at a time. While not as slow as it sounds, this tactic provides a more thoughtful approach to reading.
  • Read your resume silently and slowly. Every word.
  • Read your resume aloud. You might feel a little silly at first, but reading every word out loud calls attention to awkward phrases and misspellings. If you stumble over your words as you speak them, your reader will stumble as well.
  • Beginning at the end of your resume, follow every line backward (from right to left) and focus on just the spelling.
  • Check your verb tense. For jobs you have left, use the past tense (e.g. “Organized team-building events”). For the job you’re currently in, use the present tense (e.g. “Report on program results to senior management”). Be sure that you use the same tense for each bullet point under a given job.
  • Focus on the little things. Review your consistency with standards such as capitalization, punctuation, spacing, and bullets. For example, did you end each line with a period or not? The important thing is to pick one way of doing it and being consistent.
  • Click any active hyperlinks (e.g., email, articles, etc.) you have embedded in your resume contact information or cover letter to ensure they reach their correct destination.
  • While it is sometimes difficult to avoid, take care not to overuse business jargon (other than keywords) and remove passive voice whenever possible.
  • Double-check proper names, your contact information, and headings. This information is easy to overlook so make a point of going back to it.

Ask for Help

  • Ask a friend, family member, or mentor to proofread your resume as a favor. Another person will be more objective in evaluating whether your resume makes sense.
  • Try tandem reading. Print two copies of your resume, give one to a friend, and take turns reading it aloud. As one of you reads, the other follows along and notes errors and awkward phrasing.
  • If you change phrasing or formatting in your resume as a result of your proofreading, go back and double-check those sections. These changes can introduce errors we don’t notice, so be sure to diligently re-proofread any sentences or paragraphs you’ve modified.

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