Tips on How to Poofread Your Resume

Before I accept a new client I ask to see the person's existing resume. I want to evaluate a) how effective the info in it is and b) how much work it will take. This step allows me to adjust the fee and evaluate the project's requirements.

Sometimes I am impressed and know that the resume needs only a bit of reformatting and finessing of content. But most of the time? Oy.

Most "before" resumes are no more than long and sometimes repetitive lists of tasks and responsibilities. In my opinion, they are job postings or job descriptions, copied and pasted.

How do I know this? Simple. Within one resume I'll see bullets written in the 3rd person (as in "he" or "she" does this and that) as well as in the 1st person (as in "I" do this and that). Job postings generally use the 3rd person voice, whereas today's resumes stick to the 1st person.

Here are a few tips on "poofreading" your resume :-)

1. Go through it once with spell check. This will catch errors such as poofread/proofread.

2. Go through it again, this time with your eyes (or borrow another set!), from back to front, to catch errors like "manger" where you meant "manager." A recent management client would have caught a glaring typo in the word "public" and I'll let you figure that one out!

3. Go through again, this time looking for inconsistent use of voice. I suggest that each statement should be written from the "I" perspective. Here are bullets that illustrate the difference:

- Resolve customer complaints. (First person, "I")

- Prepares related documents. (Third person, "s/he")

4. On your next read-through, look for inconsistent verb tenses. Your goal is to have parallelism - a smooth, consistent rhythm that makes it much easier to quickly scan/read the resume, which is appreciated by recruiters who must review so many. Here are examples:

- Resolve customer issues as they pertain to delivery of goods.

- Preparing and submitting related documents.

- Schedule driver routes and assigned work-related tasks.

5. Now go through and, if you've used semi-colons (;) or colons (:), remove these. Replace them with periods or commas, as you see fit. I've rarely seen these used correctly and it's not impressive to use punctuation incorrectly. Many writers also use far too many commas, but that's a lesson of its own.

6. Finally, print out your document and find a straight edge. The naked eye obviously doesn't work for this step as I see tons of resumes where bullets meander rather than march down the page in an orderly line. Check out the spaces you left between major sections and bullets and standardize these. Wobbly margins and wonky spacing detracts from a crisp, professional, "attention to detail" look.

You've likely read that recruiters say if they find one error - spelling or grammar - they'll throw the resume out. I challenge that assumption or, if it's true, the logic of this. Much of grammar is open to interpretation - that's why there are many style guides in use, rather than one definitive style guide in use everywhere by everyone all the time.

(Besides, what makes recruiters experts in the use of the English language and its convoluted grammatical norms? I doubt they are experts in grammar any more than most of us are.)

I am pretty sure your resume would survive scrutiny with one error, but throw in all of the above and any claim to demonstrating attention to detail, thoroughness, good communication, or other related skills, would not pass scrutiny.

If all this seems daunting (or tedious), consider hiring a professional. New Leaf Resumes proofreads.

P.S. The bullet examples above are by no means effective bullets; the simplified sentence forms were used to illustrate proofreading steps rather than effective content.