Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yur Final Go-Thru

It is astonishing how many recruiters say they receive resumes and cover letters filled with spelling errors. A spelling slip-up, even a minor one, says more about you than the most articulate choice of words. For instance, is it "too" or "to"? Did you write "it's" or "its"? Just those two words alone count for a lot of mistakes.

Get as many people to proof and edit your resume and cover letter as possible. You can never have too many eyes. The corporate content manager of a large instrument company says she sees a lot of spelling and grammatical errors. Once she sees a mistake she won't read any further. She is not alone. When asked about the worst resumes and cover letters they have ever received, those that read them can come up with some hilarious shockers. How about the person applying to work at ExxonMobil? Nice resume, great cover letter, but he spelled the company's name Exxon Mobile. There goes that job prospect.

While such big blunders are not that common, many people do make simple mistakes that could be easily avoided.

The top four common mistakes are:

Spelling and grammar are at the top of the list, probably because people rely too much on spell check. Spell check is a useful tool, but you also need several sets of eyeballs to catch everything. Spell check doesn't check the context and use of words—your or you're, four or for?

Repeating verbatim what's in your resume on your cover letter

Forgetting to replace a company name when cutting and pasting parts of a letter

Carelessness—"I'd like to work for your company" (and the organization is a non-profit or government agency) or "I read your ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer" and it was run in another publication.

To make your way through the maze of errors that inevitably pop up, follow these simple steps:

Find people who will critically read each resume and cover letter you write for the content as well as the details. You might not notice that a period is missing from a sentence or an indentation that should be there isn't. A reader hunting for errors will find them.

Read your resume and cover letter backwards from the bottom up, word by word. It sounds silly, but doing so allows you to see errors you would probably gloss over reading it from the top down.

Read the resume and cover letter aloud to find words that don't make sense or aren't meaningful.

If you send a resume or cover letter to several companies, highlight each specific change so you make sure not to send Company A's letter to Company B.

Finally, if you send a resume and cover letter via e-mail, stick it in the draft folder for an hour and then read it again before actually sending it.

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