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.


Innovations in Job Search Strategies

The other day I listened to a pod cast billed along the lines of how to avoid a long job search. I thought it would have something new and remarkable to share, but as is so often the case in career related "news," it was more of the same.

I'm not criticizing; I honestly feel that a common sense, practical approach is safest and most effective. If the job hunter does something outlandish, like send his resume on a giant piece of paper, packaged neatly into many, many folds (that need to be unfolded many, many times), or that sends her resume along with a box of chocolates, these applicants receive no more credibility than those who use traditional methods. Certainly if the resume content sucks, the entire gambit gets a good chuckle in the office, and that's all.

(I know as I've seen this happen.)

I agreed with my competitor's presentation that focused on the tried and true: work hard, take it seriously, and apply strategy.

In a nutshell here's how to shorten the job search:

  • to increase your odds, don't apply only to posted jobs where you are competing with hundreds if not thousands of candidates. Best bet? Source hiring managers and contact these directly - by phone.
  • you must learn to sell yourself - skills, knowledge, reputation, abilities - on your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and in person. How? Approach this along the lines of a marketing brochure in which you use strategies that hold power, that is to quantify accomplishments. Dollars, percentages, and numbers quantify most accomplishments. For those who don't work in a commercial, profit-driven environment, it's about reputation, leadership, partnerships.
  • prepare for each interview! And do take your interviewing skills seriously. I see that people query terms such as "interview coach" before they visit my site, but the numbers of visitors don't correspond to the numbers of inquiries I receive for interview services. Yes, there's an investment to be made, but without it? You may end up like the woman who had 100 interviews, no job offer, and still refused to accept that perhaps her interview skills could be improved. I provide practical ideas and actionable tactics to take mediocre interview skills into polished and prepared.
  • prepare questions of your own. Intelligent questions that show you've researched the company and have critical thinking abilities!
  • finally, follow up after the interview with a thank you.

Beyond the resume and cover letter, there are additional documents that you can create (or work with a professional if you're unsure about how, what, how long, what content is best, etc.) that will absolutely Wow! the interview team.

The job search has changed, yes - it's far more competitive. However the answer is not in pizzazz and hoopla, at least not for the vast majority of job-hunters, but in realizing the power of the well-written word.

- determined to take job search writing from mediocre to masterful, Stephanie