Using this shortcut can kill your job prospects

resumes and cover letters
When it comes to resumes and cover letters, this short cut can kill your job prospects. Here’s what it is and how it might be hurting you.

Spell check. It was invented in 1961, widely adopted in the mid 1980’s and has been making us all dumber ever since. Seriously, who can spell anymore?

Your smart phone guesses what you want to write as you type.  The spell check feature in Word and Google Docs will automatically fix your spelling mistakes. But go too fast and you might miss a major mistake.

The problem is that spell check and auto correct can’t think. After all, they do not know what you meant to write. Check out Jimmy Fallon’s #EmailFail if you aren’t convinced yet of the negative impact of a spelling mistake.

I have seen countless resumes and cover letters with typos, spelling and grammar mistakes. The sad reality is that one typo or mistake in a cover letter or resume generally gets your application rejected, no matter how well qualified you might be.  Employers equate spelling mistakes with lack of attention to detail and sloppy work. Not exactly the first impression you want to make.

Still convinced that you are a fabulous proof reader? Take the “number of F’s Test” and see how well you do. Most people, even really smart ones, don’t get the correct answer on the first try. Why? The brain has an amazing ability to skip words. It’s one of the ways you get through all the heavy reading in college.

To clarify the importance of avoiding spelling mistakes, let me share a recent situation in which I was helping a client network. I emailed a friend to request the hiring manager’s contact information. The email address I received looked funky so I thought it best to double check. My friend confirmed that the manager’s first name was not “Bed” but “Ben”.  Clearly, spell check was yet again working it’s evil magic.

So, do you ditch spell check? Absolutely not. What you need is a better system to catch potential mistakes.

  1. First, print out your resume and cover letters. Yes, PRINT them. Then read them. Carefully. You’ll be amazed at what you catch reviewing a printed version of your resume. Simple things like an uneven right hand margin stand out in print in a way that they never do online.
  2. Read your resume bullet points out loud. Do the same for your cover letters. When read out loud, run-on sentences stand out and beg to be edited. Remember, you are trying to capture the recruiter’s attention, something a run-on sentence will never do.
  3. Next, get a friend to review your resume and cover letters. Preferably one who is an English major or exceptionally detail-oriented. Then ask another friend to do a review. More eyes are always better when it comes to proof reading.
  4. Proof read your resume and cover letters a minimum of three times. Make sure that you take a break, perhaps even waiting a day, before doing your final review. Fresh eyes work magic when it comes to proof reading.

In summary, remember that first impressions only happen once and even the smallest of details matter. Job searches are hard enough so better to make your first impression a great one. One that ideally lands you that coveted job interview.

About Lisa

Chief Career Catalyst @C2C, former Fortune 500 businesswoman, dog lover, avid skier, mediocre tennis player, golfer, new SUPer, aspiring surfer, cyclist, yoga & exercise enthusiast, happy wife & home chef. I am a regular contributor to the Bangor Daily News, and have appeared on WCSH6 where I offer career advice for college students, recent graduates and young professionals.
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