Avoid these common errors in your resume!

Your resume is more than just a reflection of your abilities, skills and qualifications. Essentially, it is a written representation of you. This is why, when creating your resume, attention to detail is so important.

Typographical, grammatical and other errors can destroy a resume, and seriously jeopardize your chances of landing the job you seek. Even one single spelling error or misplaced apostrophe can become a red flag that compels the person reading your resume to quickly toss it and move on to the next.

Whether you write your own resume or hire a professional to do it for you doesn’t matter when it comes to goofs. Errors occur, and mistakes happen, even to professionals. The important thing is to catch and correct them before you print a hundred copies and send them out. After that, it’s too late. The damage is done.

Here is my list of the most common types of written errors and how to find and correct them.

Spelling errors top the list as the most common type. Ironically they are also the easiest to avoid. Almost everyone uses a computer to create a resume these days, and almost every word processor available includes some type of spell checker, either as a built-in feature or as an add-on. It is extremely easy to use and some are even automated, if they are turned on.

Unfortunately, this powerful tool is often notoriously underused or ignored altogether, defeating its all-important purpose, to catch and correct spelling errors in your document.

Of course, the accuracy of the spell checker is largely dependent on its database of known words and their correct spelling, all in the correct context of your document.

For instance, words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings, such as there and their can be used incorrectly but still be spelled correctly, thus passing the scrutiny of a basic spell check program but still in error. However, a limitation of the spell checker is certainly no reason to avoid using one, it is just something to remember when you use it.

Punctuation errors are second on my list. Proper placement of commas, periods, colons and other punctuation marks can completely change the rhythm and feel of a resume, and if not handled properly, they can really mess it up. For example, one of my pet peeves is the improper use of the apostrophe. While it is important to add an apostrophe before the letter s to signify a possessive, it is often incorrectly used in the same place to signify a plural. Such an error can be glaring on a resume.

The safe way to find and correct a punctuation error like this is to notate the location of each mark, define its intended use, and research the proper use of it to be sure you are using it correctly. There are many tools available online that can help you accomplish this. Look up several and use them.

Grammatical errors are a little more complicated. Many folks naturally tend to write the way they talk. While this may be just fine for an informal e-mail or letter to a friend, it doesn’t usually translate well to a resume.

For instance, the words that and which are commonly used incorrectly in day-to-day speech without issue, but can present a problem on paper. The terms loose and lose are also commonly misused in written form, and this error is another of my personal pet peeves.

As with the spell checker, a grammar checker is also often available for some word processors. Sometimes they are both built into the same tool. Unfortunately, while sometimes effective, these grammatical tools aren’t perfect, and they can over or under compensate for nuances in sentence grammar. When in doubt, research the proper structure of a sentence or term online from multiple sources, and give drafts of your resume to others to proofread.

Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can hurt your resume and your chances of landing a job. Before you print one and send it out, review it carefully, inspect every paragraph, sentence, word and mark and be certain everything is exactly the way it should be, in every way intended. It needs to be accurate, it needs to be professional. It needs to be perfect.