Mistakes on your resume can cost you a job interview. This post is another in our ongoing collection on resume writing and looks at common resume mistakes and why spell-check isn’t always your friend.
We all know someone who is more than a little preoccupied with spelling and grammar. They like to point out every little mistake they see and tell you exactly what you should have done in the first place. It’s annoying, because often it’s just a typo and you already know what you should have done, so is it really that big of a deal?
In terms of your personal life, it probably isn’t such a big deal, but typos, spelling mistakes and poor grammar can stop your career it before it even begins. As a representation of you, a resume riddled with mistakes tells a prospective employer several things about you, least of all that attention to detail isn’t your strong point – made worst if you use that cliché as a way to describe yourself (see The templates don’t work for more).
You look messy
As we discuss on episode 3 of the podcast, The Interview, how you present yourself is important. There is an unspoken expectation that you will dress well and be prepared. If you walk in looking like you’ve just woken up, with next to no knowledge of the company you’re interviewing for, you’re not meeting that expectation.
Normally you only have the one first impression. When applying for a job and a subsequent job interview, however, there are really several consecutive first-impressions you go through as you introduce each aspect of yourself. The in-person interview is not the first of them. You introduce your appearance and manner, your writing ability, your confidence, your way of speaking, etc, at different points along the way.
Your first first-impression is really your resume and cover letter – or your enquiry email or call if you made one of those. Make sure it’s a good one.
You’re not differentiating yourself
I can more than double your chances of getting a job right now, with this one tip: make sure there are no mistakes on your resume.
According to research from job search site Adzuna, 54% of resumes contain at least one spelling mistake, while 46% contain two or more. If you have a mistake in your resume, you’re part of the majority. As we’ve discussed, time and time again, you need to differentiate yourself when applying for a job. So a good way to differentiate yourself from the rest is to have a mistake free resume (that I can easily read).
You’re on the fast track to the “no” pile
Google actually receives an above average 58% of resumes with at least one spelling mistake, according to former Senior Vice President Laszlo Bock. At the time of writing his post on common resume mistakes, he said Google would at times receive more than 50,000 resumes in a single week!
That’s a lot of resumes, and a good way to halve the number you have to consider instantly is to remove any with spelling or grammatical mistakes.
But that means someone at Google read your resume to check for spelling mistakes, right? No, a lot of companies like Google use resume scanners, which are programs that scan your resume for keywords related to the position as well as mistakes. If that scanner picks up your typo, it won’t be received by a recruiter.
So smaller companies are more forgiving? Again, no. In the case of a smaller company that may not have access to a resume scanner, you actually have two things going against you. Firstly, a recruiter will on average take 6 seconds to initially look at your resume to determine if you are the right fit for the job (they will read it more later). Secondly, it’s easier to spot a typo if you’re unfamiliar with what you’re reading. So for a recruiter who wants to get through as many resumes as quickly as possible, not only are they looking for a reason not to read yours, but mistakes will jump out at them.
Check your spell-check before you wreck your spell-check
Spell checks are only the first of many ways you should be checking your resume before you send it.
Because you are already familiar with your resume, it’s difficult to pick up errors. To make your resume seem unfamiliar to you, you should read it bottom to top. As your sentences will no longer flow correctly, it will allow you to better identify mistakes. If possible, also give it to a friend to proof read for you.
Re-reading is also important because there are instances when an incorrectly used word has been spelled correctly, such as “I want you to me as pacific as possible.” The correct word is specific, but your spell check won’t pick that up.
With that in mind, you should start thinking about what mistakes you commonly make and look for them. I have a bad habit of mistyping “form” in place of “from”, so I now always do a quick word search for “form” and “from” before I submit my work.
Finally, check to see what language your spell-check is set to. There are differences between UK, US and Australian English which go way beyond slang and expressions. Each country has their own way of spelling words, such as organise/organize, labour/labor, centre/center and résumé/resumé/resume.
Picking the correct country is particularly important for Australian readers, as there is a common misconception that Australian spelling is the same as British. This is no longer correct as spelling evolves independently of other countries. This was the basis of a joke almost 20 years ago, when Australian comedian Shaun Micallef, changed the name of his show, The Micallef Program, to The Micallef Programme, then later The Micallef Pogram, after viewers complained. Program is the correct spelling in Australia, but should be spelled programme in the UK.
Of course, having perfect spelling and grammar doesn’t mean you’ll have a perfect resume. Successful Graduate starts your thinking about what is most important to employers. Learn how to craft your resume now.
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