Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Avoiding Spelling Errors on a Resume

I was reading the April 1st Wall Street Journal “Managing Your Career” column by Joanne Lublin about a 34-year-old man’s switch from the factory floor to a desk job in a different industry.

I was impressed with everything the man -- Christopher Pearsall – did during this job transition, including taking college courses and applying for a product-management internship (yes, at his age).

Then I came to this sentence in the article: “A resume sprinkled with misspelled words, however, nearly killed his candidacy.”

Lublin went on to quote Michael Harvey, the Concursive executive vice president who responded in an email to Pearsall after receiving the misspelled resume: “This is not, frankly, a good way to impresses a potential employer.’ A product management internship requires ‘an ability to check your own work before forwarding it to others.’”

As Lublin describes it, Pearsall was lucky. He “immediately sent a revised resume, letters of reference and an apologetic note reiterating his desire to join the start-up.” And this helped – Pearsall got the internship.

The point I want to make here – and the point I make in FLIPPING BURGERS – is that a resume should never, ever be sent with spelling errors. If, after using spell check again and again (especially any time you make even the slightest change to the resume), you have any concerns about your proofreading ability, have someone else check your resume.

And this procedure also goes for any professional emails or letters you send. In my book I suggest having what I call a grammar buddy. Your grammar buddy checks all your important emails, letters, etc., and you do something else for him/her in return. (Pick up the laundry, walk the dog.)

There’s one more important step – try to learn from mistakes. Instead of having a grammar buddy correct mistakes without showing you what these mistakes were, ask the person to tell you the specific mistakes being corrected.

For example, if you tend to confuse you’re (noun and verb: you are) and your (possessive, such as in your book), then keep a cheat sheet next to the computer with examples of the correct usage. Every time you type you’re or your, check the cheat sheet.

The professional image you’re (noun and verb) protecting is your (possessive) own.

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