Does Your Resume Show You’ll Make a $10M Error

Posted by Rob Riggins

Ever write an email and realize – almost as soon as you hit “send” – that you have a typo, grammatical error or other stumble?

The embarrassment you feel is nothing compared to the despair most of us feel when we make similar stumbles on resumes, cover letters or other applications. Know what’s worse? Not realizing you made the error until you speak to the recruiter or hiring manager. But you’ll only hear from them if you’re lucky.

Many hiring managers and human resource specialists disregard applicants who send paperwork with typos, grammatical errors and other bloopers because they consider such missteps signs of carelessness. That’s especially true for jobs that require precise reasoning and other detailed-oriented tasks such as are the lifeblood of many cleared jobs today.

The hiring professionals’ rationale for their actions is that applicants who can’t take the trouble to ensure they represent themselves properly don’t have the skills to perform critical tasks in their jobs such as analyze causes rather than just respond to effects.

Sure, you can use any number of automatic spell checks, grammar checks and other systems to [hopefully] rid your resume and other supporting materials of obvious errors. But consider this true-life story of how one applicant relied solely on technology to refine his resume and became a “don’t let this happen to you” tale.

The problem – spellcheck automatically changed all references to warehouse (which the applicant had misspelled as wharehouse), to whorehouse. The applicant didn’t read the finished product and was unaware technology had let him down.

Such stumbles make good fodder for jokes or cautionary tales, but don’t equal jobs.

To ensure your cleared resume and cover letter are as perfect as possible, use the automatic checks available on technology.

But don’t stop there. Proofread your resume. The problem with proofreading, of course, is that your eyes tend to skim over familiar words, names and dates. So once you’re proofread your documents consider incorporating the following safety checks:

  • Read your resume backward. That action will force you to look more closely at each word and hopefully help you catch typos, awkward phrases and grammatical errors.
  • Force yourself to confirm the spellings of proper names, professional titles and localities you mention.
  • Don’t look for everything in one pass. Spend one review searching for typos. On the next read-through, look for punctuation errors, and so forth.
  • Ask someone else – a detail-oriented person if possible – to carefully read your application materials. Give them time to carefully peruse them and mark any changes.
  • Print out your materials and read them on paper. We absorb information differently from a printed page vs a screen.
  • Read your resume and cover letter out loud. This can be a useful tool for catching awkward phrasing too.
  • Don’t send out the documents until the day after you “finalize” them if it’s possible. Take time and re-read everything carefully before hitting send.

If you find yourself struggling to justify the time you would spend on this practice, think back to the classic 2006 story of the “million dollar comma.” A misplaced comma in a 14-page contract between a Canadian cable television and a power company resulted in a legal ruling that the cable company had to pay $1 million Canadian dollars over what was intended.

Think times have changed enough in the past decade-plus that such errors wouldn’t happen? A 2017 class-action lawsuit brought by some truck drivers in Maine could cost a dairy company $10 million. The reason? A debate about the meaning of a contract based on the lack of a serial (Oxford) comma.

As technology advances disputes about the particulars of language, punctuation and grammar continue with costly results. Fine-tune your resume and cover letter as a first step toward assuring your future employer you are not prone to such missteps.

Final Hint: What about the profiles you have created on company sites or on ClearedJobs.Net? Take the time to double and triple check those profiles as well, to be sure you’re presenting your best self.


This entry was posted on Monday, September 25, 2017 7:25 am

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