The hiring manager has your resume in their hand, and frankly, they are impressed. That is until they come to the part where you say you’re a “quick leaner who is ready to take on new challenges”. Something isn’t quite right. Maybe you should reread that sentence.
Yes, simple spelling mistakes, typos, and grammatical errors are the bane of any writer’s life. What’s more, when you’re applying for jobs, these issues could ruin your chances. With that in mind, before sending out your next application, you must proofread it properly. If you’re not sure where to start with this process, you’ve come to the right place. The following comprehensive guide will look at proofreading tips and why doing so is vital.
Is it mandatory to proofread your resume?
The short answer here is yes. Yes, you do.
Hiring managers spend just seven seconds reviewing each resume that lands in their inboxes. In that fleeting moment, they will be looking for any reason — big or small — to put the application straight into the trash folder. Minor mistakes could be that reason.
If the hiring manager comes across an error in your resume, it tells them a couple of things about you on a professional level. First of all, it suggests that you haven’t proofread your resume. That may mean you are lazy or lack the dedication they are looking for in a worker. Secondly, it shows you aren’t great when it comes to perfecting the finer details. In most jobs, your employer will want you to have a keen eye for detail.
10 expert-backed proofreading tips to use
You’ve polished off a stellar resume. Congrats! You can give yourself a quick pat on the back. The truth is it’s hard to write a resume from scratch. If you happened to nail it, you should be proud of yourself. However, before you can send the resume to potential employers, there’s one more thing left to do. You guessed it: it’s time to proofread.
Unless you’re a professional proofreader, you may not know where to start. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not simply about glancing over the document to check for mistakes. No, there is far more to this process than you might imagine. Thankfully, we’ve got your back. Take a look at our resume proofreading tips below, and you’ll be off to a great start.
1. Start by using a spellchecker
Spoiler: Spellcheckers are never foolproof. However, they will support you when proofreading your resume. It’s all about catching errors the human eye would naturally miss. You can use all of the above to see any obvious mistakes that you may not have seen while writing. Take a look at them before doing your own proofreading.
First things first, you should use a spellchecker. If you’re using Microsoft Word, there’s a spellchecker feature built into the software. The same goes for Google Docs. This is your first line of defense, but you should not rely upon it. While the feature will pick up any glaringly obvious errors, you cannot expect it to detect grammatical mistakes and the like.
For that reason, you need to call for some backup. Grammarly is one of the most popular choices here. You will need to sign up to get started, but you can use the app in your browser. Simply click “New” when you’ve signed in and then copy and paste the content from your resume into the page. The spellchecker will give you a rundown of any mistakes you have made. It also offers advice on how to simplify your sentence structure.
Note: Don’t simply “accept all” of the changes. While it’s tempting to click away, you could end up making more mistakes. Grammarly is smart – but it’s not as smart as a real person (i.e., you!). Go through each suggestion and see if it’s right before accepting it.
Want to get resume proofreading for free? Okay, we’ve got you. The Hemingway App is another option that you don’t want to ignore. You don’t need to sign up for this platform to use it. Just go to the website, copy in your content, and get proofread. The app will give your resume content a readability score and offer advice on simplifying it. It will also tell you if certain sentences are “hard to read” or whether you’re using the passive voice.
2. Read every single word
Next up, it’s time for you to start proofreading your resume. Don’t make the mistake of skim-reading the document. You’ve written the resume, so you already know what it says. If you give it a quick glance, you won’t pick up any spelling mistakes you’ve made. Instead, you’re going to need to read every single word. You might find it helpful to use your finger or mouse cursor as a marker while reading each of the words on the page.
This resume proofreading technique may sound simple, but it is effective. Since you are underlining the words with your finger, it forces your eyes to look at each one of them. That means that you are far more likely to pick up on any mistakes. Take things slow and look at each word individually. Ensure that it is spelled correctly and the grammar is right.
3. Print your resume (if you can!)
If you have access to a printer, now is the time to start using it! Reading a hard copy of your resume is one of the best ways to proofread it. Research suggests that our brains don’t read words on a screen as effectively as on a printed document. For that reason, one of the most straightforward resume proofreading tips is to print it out pronto.
Now that you’ve got the hard copy, make like a teacher and grab a red pen. You can underline any spelling or grammatical mistakes as you read the document. This exercise also allows you to see your resume through a recruiter’s eyes. The reader will likely print out the document before they review it. Consider whether there are any changes you can make at this stage that will boost your chance of success.
4. Try reading it out loud
Lights, camera, action! It’s time for you to deliver an award-winning monologue. Okay, perhaps not, but reading your resume aloud will help you to pinpoint any problems. If you have a printed version of your resume, move away from your computer and get to work. Saying each word forces your brain to look at the spelling and the syntax.
If you’re feeling extra brave, you could even read your resume out in front of someone else. Choose a person you trust. While the idea of doing that may make you nervous, it’s a smart way to ensure everything is in order. Having another person hear the content of your resume will also mean you can iron out any kinks. Should you find that a certain sentence or bullet point sounds off, you will have the opportunity to rewrite it.
5. Look at it in different fonts
Let’s say you keep missing the same mistakes. It happens to the best of us. When we talk about how to proofread professionally, one of the best tips you can get is to try a new font. Switching up the typeface makes the document look brand new to your brain. That means you are more likely to pay close attention to some of the finer details. Highlight the content of your resume and pick a font style you wouldn’t normally use.
Hint: Size matters too! Trying to proofread your resume when it’s in a teeny-tiny font on the screen makes things tricky. If you want to make things easier for yourself, increase the size of your font. Ramping it up will not only make it easier to read but also gives you another chance to proofread your resume. (Just make sure you resize it before sending it!)
6. Check each section individually
Proofreading your entire resume in one go is laborious. That means you’re likely to skip over problems. Simply put, your brain will get bored halfway through, and your mind will wander. One of the top resume proofreading hacks is to break things down. You can do that by isolating a section of your resume and focusing solely on that.
For example, you want to kick things off with your resume summary. That’s the short paragraph that sits at the top of the document. It also happens to be one of the first things a hiring manager will see when they look at your resume. You can copy the summary and paste it onto a new document. Read it out loud and ensure it makes sense. You will also be able to pick up any spelling errors or other mistakes when you do this.
7. Edit out any duplicate words
Do you sound like a broken record? Let’s say you use the word “excellent” three times in your resume. Sure, you might actually be an “excellent communicator,” “excellent at time management,” and “have excellent organizational skills.” But can you think of another way to get your message across? When you use the same word too many times, it starts to lose its meaning. To avoid that, use different words that mean the same thing.
Look for synonyms and flex your creative muscles when writing your resume. Should you keep coming across the same word on the document, grab a thesaurus and get to work. You can replace the word “excellent” with “accomplished,” “outstanding,” or “exceptional,” for example. Using a wide vocabulary helps you to showcase your communication skills.
8. Make sure the tenses match
When you’re proofreading your resume, it gives you the chance to ensure that your tenses match. This tip is particularly important when it comes to the bullet points below each job title. You can use either past or present tense here. Which you choose doesn’t matter. What does matter is consistency. If you say “supports team with admin duties” in one bullet point and “liaised with the department managers” in another, it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Luckily, as you are proofreading your resume, you can check this off your list. Changing the tense of some of your sentences could make all the difference. Keep things in line. You want to show hiring managers that you have a high level of attention to detail. For that reason, every element of your resume should use the same style and approach.
9. Get rid of any industry jargon
Industry jargon won’t land you your next interview. Some candidates fall into the trap of thinking they need to cram their resume with buzzwords. That’s not the case. When you’re writing any application, you are writing for the common reader. As a general rule, you should make sure the language you use is suitable for most readers. Using fancy-pants jargon will likely alienate some readers and could ruin your chances.
Note: There’s one exception to this rule! If the word is mentioned in the job specification, you might want to use it. Peppering your resume with appropriate keywords will help you to pass the ATS test. Applicant tracking software (ATS) ranks resumes by how well they meet the requirements of the position. The more keywords you have in your resume, the more likely it is to get past the software and into a hiring manager’s hands.
10. Leave it and come back later
You are only human. And, as a human, your brain and eyes get tired. Trying to rush your resume proofreading will lead to disaster. If you want to make sure that you get it right, one of the smartest approaches is to leave it for a while and come back later. You should sleep on it and try proofreading your resume the next day. Give yourself a break for now. That way, you will come back to the task at hand with a fresh pair of eyes, literally.
Common proofreading mistakes to avoid
You’ve already got the inside scoop when it comes to proofreading your resume. Before you get moving, there are a few things you should know. Too many people make little mistakes when they are proofreading documents. These slip-ups can lead to big problems down the line. For that reason, you should avoid the following common mishaps:
Missing homophones. Homophones are words that sound the same but have two different meanings. For example, “stair” and “stare.” One is something you walk up and down, while the other is something that you do when watching TV. When you’re proofreading, you might miss these mistakes. Pay close attention to each word and make sure that you are using the right one for your resume.
Not spotting doubled-up words. When you’re proofreading, your brain naturally skips ahead to the next word. That means that if two identical words are placed together, you might not notice. For instance, in the sentence “strong communicator with an an eye for detail,” you may miss the fact that “an” appears twice.
Failing to use one format. While you are proofreading your resume, you can also check the format. Make sure that you use the same approach throughout. For example, if you capitalize your headers in one section, you need to do so in all the sections. Keep in mind that you’re not just looking for spelling mistakes here!
Proofreading is not always as simple as you might imagine. However, the more vigorous you are when doing this task, the more likely you are to catch any problems early on. Should you want to get a second opinion, you can always ask for a friend to take a look.
Resume perfection equals dream job
Resume proofreading is non-negotiable. When applying for jobs, it’s a professional game. Sending out a resume littered with mistakes makes you look like an amateur. If you want to land your next dream job, nothing short of perfection will do the trick. In this guide, we have given you the tools and advice you need to succeed in proofreading your resume. Use the approaches we have highlighted to make sure your resume is flawless.
Want to take all of the hassle out of creating your resume? You can trust our team of professional resume writers. We have 100+ writers who can help you uncover your strengths and skills. If you want to give yourself a competitive edge, check out our expert-backed resume writing services now and get an optimized application.
If you’ve already written the document, use our free resume review tool to see how your resume looks to an expert and an ATS scan.
Marsha Hebert, Professional Resume Writer
Marsha is a resume writer with a strong background in marketing and writing. After completing a Business Marketing degree, she discovered that she could combine her passion for writing with a natural talent for marketing. For more than 10 years, Marsha has helped companies and individuals market themselves. Read more advice from Marsha on ZipJob's blog.