A resume riddled with spelling and grammar errors will impress nobody. Think you're immune? There is a good chance you aren't: According to CareerBuilder, 58 percent of employers commonly dismiss candidates because their resumes have typos.
Avoid being rejected outright by making use of the following tools to proofread your resume and cover letter:
1. Spell Check
This is a common tool found in Microsoft Word and most other word processors. Spell check will underline words and phrases to call attention to misspellings and grammar errors. The program will also suggest corrections.
2. Read Aloud / Text to Speech
I have started using Microsoft Word's "Read Aloud" feature to help me proofread my documents. As the name suggests, this feature translates text into speech. The computer "reads" your document aloud to you. As you hear the document read aloud, you'll be able to easily pick up on errors.
Grammarly is a free grammar-checker. I have used it for years. When I tell my students about this tool, they usually give me a look that says "You're old and irrelevant." Then, when I have one of those students upload their paper for proofreading and Grammarly begins flagging errors, their eyes light up as if it were Christmas morning and I had just given them the best gift ever.
4. Slick Write
I discovered Slick Write while writing this article, and my tests have revealed it is a very thorough tool. It shares various reports that identify the specific writing areas in which you need a little improvement.
I especially like that you can set Slick Write to flag certain errors, such as sentences starting with the same words, excessive prepositional phrases, double words, extra spaces, and more. You can even set how many words you want your sentences to be, and Slick Write will mark sentences that are over that word count.
You can outsource your proofreading to a professional by way of the freelance marketplace Fiverr. After reading your document over many times, you will become so used to it that you may start missing errors. A freelancer can bring a pair of fresh eyes.
6. Friends and Family
While not exactly "tools," your friends and family can certainly read your resume or cover letter to look for errors. The downside of having friends and family review your resume is that they may not do so with the eagle eye that is needed to catch all your mistakes.
Do It Yourself
When you're hunting for a new job, your writing will often be your chance to make a first impression. You only get one first impression, so you'll need to make it a great one. If you don't have access to the tools listed above – or you'd rather not use them for any reason – then your best bet is to proofread yourself, word by word:
Print the document: You will catch more errors while reviewing a printed document.
Start at the end: Start on the last page at the last sentence. Read backwards, one word at a time. This will ensure you are focused on each word and are not reading the sentence the way you want it to sound.
Read in small bites and aloud: Especially if you are proofreading a lengthy resume or cover letter, you may get a bit bored. Boredom makes you less likely to catch mistakes. Read in small bits and pieces at a time instead of reading it all in one go. Reading the document out loud will also help you catch things that do not sound correct.
Proofreading takes time. Never type a document and apply for the job in the same day. Plan for proofreading. Let your document sit overnight, then read it again in the morning with a fresh brain. The extra time you take could mean the difference between getting a job and getting your resume thrown in the trash.
Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.