Online spell checkers and grammar checkers have very real limitations. Even if you used an online system to spell check and grammar check your resume, you should still proofread it yourself. The following seven items tell you why. Spell checkers and grammar checkers are unable to tell if:
- The correct word is being used. Many times a word is wrong for your resume but is still spelled correctly (disparate and desperate, finance and fiancé, manager and manger). You are the only one who can tell which word was meant.
- The correct verb goes with each noun. For example, the correct verb is for Kohls is singular: “Kohls is.” Grammar checkers are particularly bad in figuring out the right verb for compound nouns or compound sentences.
- Numbers are consistent. You should settle on one standard: 3M or 3 million; the 90s or the 1990s; USD 4 billion or US $4 billion; 0.50 or .50 or .5. Many grammar and spell checkers will accept both versions, so you must check for consistency.
- Lists are consistent. For example, the following list is inconsistent: “Worked on increasing revenue, decreasing overhead and morale.” It seems to say the job applicant worked on decreasing morale—not a good quality in a leader.
- Punctuation is used correctly and consistently. It doesn’t matter if you use the comma before “and” in a series, but you have to use it (or not use it) consistently and correctly. You should avoid exclamation points. In most cases, the period at the end of a sentence goes inside quotation marks. These are all decisions that an online grammar checker cannot make for you; you must proofread.
- Acronyms are correct. Does the acronym match up with the beginning letters of the full name (e.g., using the acronym USF for US Air Force)?
- Spacing and alignment are consistent. You don’t want to justify page 1 and use a ragged right margin on page 2; you want the spaces between bullets to be consistent, and you want the same font(s) to be used throughout for headings and text.
I do not advise reading a resume backwards as a proofreading tool. The main reason is that you are highly unlikely to find any of the above six problems if you are reading backwards. You cannot tell whether “are” or “is” is the correct verb or if the word you want is ensure, insure, or assure.
However, I do advocate printing the resume out and reading each line with a ruler beneath it; reading the resume out loud at least once (it is amazing what your eye misses but your ear will “hear” as wrong); and putting the resume away for at least 24 hours before you proofread.
One of our goals at Robin’s Resumes® is to make sure that every resume goes out letter, word, and comma-perfect. Contact us today.