8 Ways to Avoid Resume Typos
The irony of the situation slapped me hard across the face, so much so that I knew I had to write a blog post about it. I was obsessively tweaking my Resume Development document, commenting about avoiding resume typos at all costs. I finished making the 2,483rd tweak and ran the spell check. It caught the usual suspects, and I got the self-satisfying “You’re good to go!” message.
That’s when it happened. I went to read it over one more time and found a typo in the first line in the first paragraph. Then another typo on the same line a few words down! What the what?!?
So, I highlighted that paragraph only and ran spell-check again. “No errors were found. You’re good to go!” Gah!
Stop saying that! That does not mean what you think it means!
Then like my sullen, 13-year-old self, watching TV in the early eighties, forced to begrudgingly get up to change the TV channel like we did in the olden days, I manually edited those two words. But rest assured, I was really put off having to do so. Then I read the document again. And again. And remained petrified that there really was another typo lurking where I couldn't see it.
I majored in journalism in college and consider myself an above average editor and poofreader. Proofreader. But I still worry constantly about a typo being found in my writing. And you should too, especially when it comes to your job search materials – your resume, cover letter, portfolio, networking business card, etc. – and avoiding resume typos at all costs. And with HR departments getting hundreds of resumes for a single job opening, trashing a resume with a typo in it is an easy way to cut down the stack.
I’m not saying you should lose sleep over it like I do or wake up during the night, terrified that your blog post has an error it. But you should pay more attention than I bet you are now.
At the very least, you should take advantage of any and all spell-check tools you have access to. Even on this blog post you are reading, I will copy the text and paste it into a Word document and run spell-check on it (though now I know this isn't worth much). If you have to write out your cover letter on an online application, do it in Word first then paste it in. But not before doing some of these other things.
- You may heard of these tricks to find resume typos: 1) read your piece out loud, or 2) read it from the end to the beginning. Those are great hacks to catch typos. I use Microsoft Edge to write my LinkedIn posts because I can highlight my article, right-click on it and choose the “read aloud” feature that narrates my writing in a funny but creepy alien voice. And I just discovered Word 2016 has a Read Aloud function under the Speech tab.
- If you have a website or blog like I do, there are amazing plug-ins out there, especially in WordPress, that will catch a lot of mistakes before you hit the publish or update button.
- I pay for the extra-strength version of Grammarly, a spelling and grammar check tool on steroids. It's well worth the peace of mind I get from it.
- If you write a lot like I do, you probably have a good idea of those words you misspell consistently. I am gathering a list for my own clients – a style guide of sorts – for them to check their own writing. This is most important when a typo is spelled correctly but used incorrectly. A spell checker won't catch it. I list a few below:
- My biggest pet peeve on the resumes I review is misusing the words “lead” and “led.” To me, this is among the worst of the resume typos. These words are confusing because of how they are pronounced. In “to lead a team” the word “lead” is pronounced “leed.” Many resume writers who are talking about their leadership abilities at a past job will say, “In my previous job, I lead a team of 60 engineers.” In this case, the word “lead” is pronounced “led” like the dangerous metal found in paint on older houses. What’s funny about pronouncing it “led” is that this is the correct way to spell it: “In my previous job, I led a team of 60 engineers.”
- My own number one typo is typing “you” when I meant to type “your” as in this sentence: “You should always spell check you resume to avoid the dreaded resume typos.” Obviously, it should be “your resume.”
- Related to the “you/your” issue is one that I should mention since it’s a pretty common error that doesn’t get caught by spell checkers. That is the use of “your” versus “you’re,” as in this sentence: “You’re going to have to check your work much more carefully after reading this article, especially to avoid resume typos.”
The first use “You’re going to have to check…” is correct because “You’re” is the contraction of two words: you and are: “You are going to have to check…”
The second use is also correct, “…to check your work…” because in this case, “your” is the possessive to the word “work.” You’re saying that the work belongs to you, you possess it. It’s yours.
- Another one, especially if I am typing really fast, is "It's" versus "Its" as in this sentence: "Its not the typos that bother me so much as its reflection on my intelligence."
The first “Its” is used incorrectly, since it’s a contraction of two words, “It is.” Try reading the sentence replacing “Its” with “It is” to tell if it’s wrong or right: “It is not the typos that bother me…” See, it works with “it is” so it’s correct. It is correct.
The second “its” is correct since it’s indicating the possessive of “reflection.” If I say it out loud with “it is” it doesn’t make sense either: “….so much as it is reflection on my intelligence.” While correct, it's still a poor writing style that should be edited for clarity.
- There is yet another one I should mention as a public service announcement, though I am warning you, it makes me look like a pompous dick. If you are prone to type "should of" instead of "should have" or "would of" instead of "would have," run the find/replace command for those as well.
No judgment, I swear! It's very easy to write/type like we talk. I know for myself, when I say, "should have" it sounds like "should of." That's because there is a soft "v" sound in the pronunciation of the word "of" in this usage. However, for certain jobs you apply for, this resume typo might get you eliminated from consideration, especially if the person reading your resume is a pompous dick. Not that we know anyone like this.
- The best way I have found to catch these “correct but incorrect” words is to use the find/replace feature in Microsoft products. You can get access to it by typing CTRL-H if you’re into keyboard commands.
- In the case of “you versus your,” I will type "you" in the find field, and in the replace field, I type in "your" and run this command. You'll have to verify each occurrence as it will catch every "your" you wrote since it has "y-o-u" in it. But it will also find those annoying "you resume" resume typos that should have been "your resume."
- In case you tell yourself that it’s difficult for me to edit my own work, then I want to affirm that this is indeed true. Because we wrote it, we tend to read it the way we meant to say it and not how we actually wrote it. (Note to self: add "acutally" to my list of most-common resume typos).
If you are working with a career coach, then by all means, this person should catch these resume typos for you. (You should know he probably drinks at night from the weight of the responsibility).
Otherwise, you can ask just about anybody else to read over your document to catch any resume typos you’ve missed. And you can remind them that there is a difference between a proofreader and an editor. Tell them you don’t need them to edit your writing, just proofread for typos.
8. If by some chance you don’t have any friends, then I feel bad for you. If you are friendless, you can always use a paid service like Fiverr.com or Upwork.com to pay a freelancer to check your work. This is especially important if it's critical that it be error-free (like your resume and cover letter; or your grant application for your cancer cure).
In conclusion, in case you missed the irony, I was working on a resume document when I discovered my own typos. Maybe that’s not ironic at all, or maybe ironic is the wrong word. I do that a lot too. But at least it got me to write this post. I hope it helps you with your own resumes and cover letters and avoid the most common of resume typos.
I’d love to know what your own frequently used resume typos are and the strategies you use to find them. Please add them in the comment section below.
In addition, I’ll give a Starbucks gift card to the first person who finds a particular typo in this article. In other words, only one person gets a gift card per typo. Send me an email with the typo, where it’s at in the article and your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org.