Recently finding myself beginning the job hunt again I began by updating my résumé. While writing I did a little research on the Internet to find the latest resume writing trends. Surprisingly, the “advice” I found online amounted to fluff as the information I found was of little value or simply linked to yet another site. This explains the poor quality of resumes that have passed my desk recently.
As you know, few can afford to be jobless during a recession. So ensuring you have as perfect a résumé as possible is key.
Spelling & Grammatical Errors
I cannot stress enough how important this is to ensure your document is error free. To be honest, I discard a résumé as soon as I see one. Tough, yes, but think about it – you have taken the time to write your résumé or curriculum vitae (CV) but you don’t have the time to proofread it? Will you have time to proofread your work in a busy office? Having an error free resume or CV is proof that you are detail oriented! Detail oriented, how many times have you read that on a job requirement?
Recently, professionally printed portfolios have passed my desk. Complete with beautiful architectural drawings, but this means nothing as they’ve misspelled a basic common word on page one. In this circumstance, the spelling error looks even worse as it’s more noticeable. How many times have you found a spelling error on the menu? Once spotted, you’ll laugh but that instance has distracted you from the food and experience of the restaurant. Your next visit you’ll likely look to see if there are new errors instead of focusing on what you will order – not the point of going to a restaurant is it? Same story happens with a résumé. The reader (your potential employer) sees a spelling error, chuckles or sighs, and looks for more. Rarely error riddled resumes get you a job a job interview. Spell Check – use it.
The spelling and grammar checker built into Microsoft (MS) Word is a great start but is far from perfect. Many times the MS spell-check allows the wrong tense or even worse – slang, such as “eh”. If you’re anti-Microsoft anything Google’s spell check tool bar is a great alternative. It’s set in into your browser’s toolbar so you can spell check everything you add to the Internet including your latest Facebook wall post.
Other spelling and grammar checkers sources are on the Internet. Simply enter free spell and grammar check in your search engine and you should get at least 3 million hits.
Layout in a résumé is tricky and full of contradictories. Detailed but brief. Easy to read but professional. No more than 2 pages with a balance of white space to ink. These contradictories have a purpose it’s to make your résumé as easy to read as possible. Remember you have 40 seconds to win your potential employer over.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before but have an equal balance of white to ink. This means avoid cramming all your information right across the page. To be honest, this is another reason for your potential employer to turf your résumé. This time, your document is difficult to read. Remember, it’s filled with facts. They are about you and that’s an interesting topic when one knows you. But to a potential employer your résumé or CV is just facts. So make it professional but easy to read. Side margins are for a reason. Yes, you can reduce the margin size but more importantly you need to vary your sentence lengths across the page. By doing so you succeed in a more interesting layout and white space!
Below I’ve included two one page examples. I’ve converted the text to Latin gibberish as I only want you to focus on the layout of the résumé. First, which of the two resumes look easier (faster) to read?
The example named Original where every line is right across the page? It’s so crammed with facts that you can barely pause to take in what you’ve read? Or the example named Simplified, where there is sentence length variation and significantly more white space compared with example Original.
At first glance both examples look professional but the example named Original may look a little better – until you try to read it. Yes, neither document makes any sense because they are in Latin. But, for the 40-second readers crammed resumes will cause their eyes will glaze over similar to how yours just did now.
Other simplification tricks restrict your résumé to one font. You can vary the size to mark sections but keep it consistent. Also don’t misuse the use of bold or italics they are for emphasis. Overuse equals texting in all caps – SHOUTING.
Lines across your résumé for sectioning off areas are both good and bad. Obviously the lines are a fast way to separate sections but it also causes your reader to pause. At which point they may turf your résumé because your resume doesn’t flow. Try not to use the lines right across the page or better yet restrict them to underlining title sections. Again you can compare the flow between the two examples. How far after the first line in the example named Original do you continue? How far down the page to you go in example Simplified?
Lack of or inadequate proofreading is the main reason so many errors slip through on resumes and CVs. Once you have written your document print it. Then go do something else for 20 minutes. Come back and reread your document. The break from working on your résumé will allow you to proofread your work with a fresh set of eyes. The benefit of printing your résumé out from your computer is you will see it from a different view and errors are usually easy to see. The next proofreading trick read it out loud. Does it sound right? Or are you correcting it as you read? Go back make your corrections and then repeat your proofreading process. Better yet find an opinionated friend teacher or parent. Preferably one who is critical and has good spelling habits! Repeat this proofreading method until you are error free.
Spelling, grammar, and layout are three of most common errors in resumes and CVs that I have seen. Fortunately, they’re the easiest and cheapest to fix!