Think your resume is free of embarrassing mistakes? Think again. No matter how hard active duty, veterans and spouses try to produce a perfect resume, there are always mistakes in it. Every day, I see misspelled words. Wrong words. Missing words. Repeated bullet points.
It happens to all of us. One of our Military.com clients recently pointed out that in one of our promotional documents, we were advocating for ways companies could "hire more military vegans."
We have nothing against military vegans. Bless their healthy hearts and pink gums. It is just that at Military.com, we are far more interested in getting military veterans hired everywhere.
So if we are all trying so hard, why is it that resumes (and other documents) have so many mistakes in them? Especially when spelling and grammar tools are standard on every laptop out there?
Blame Your Magnificent Brain.
Thanks to the brain's ability to infer context, it naturally fills in missing letters and words that ought to be there that are not there. Your brain is trying to help you. Most of the time, that ability to predict a missing piece is a lifesaver.
That is why you can raed this snetncee eevn thoouh tehre are mstkiaes in your reusme.
During the job hunt process, those resume errors can make an applicant tracking system miss an important keyword. Or it can make a recruiter or hiring manager think you don't care. Or can't spell. Or have really big thumbs. (I once received a resume for someone who swore they were "detail oriention." Poor guy!)
So how can you avoid these unwitting mistakes before you send on that resume or application?
1. Read It Out Loud.
I know you are sick and tired of your resume. If you absolutely have to push send tonight, make yourself stop and read your resume, cover letter or note to the hiring manager out loud. Word by tedious word. Phrase by dusty phrase. Using all of your senses to find mistakes works better than just using your eyes, especially when you are tired.
Take this from a person who once wrote a proposal to the then-vice president's wife and addressed it to Mrs. Spence instead of Mrs. Pence.
2. Use Your Finger.
My second-grade teacher hated it when anyone used their finger when reading a book. The thing is, running your finger beneath the word you are reading helps keep you focused, especially when you usually read without touching the page or screen. It is also a great tool to catch misplaced commas, extra parentheses and lost periods.
3. Only Check the Most Commonly Misspelled Words. Or Don't Use Them.
The most common spelling mistake I see on veterans' resumes is typing "mangement" when they mean "management." Other contenders for the most commonly misspelled words include:
- Separate (misspelled as "seperate")
- Definitely (misspelled as "definately")
- Independent (misspelled as "independant")
- Judgment (misspelled as "judgement")
- Received (misspelled as "recieved")
- There/their/they're used in the wrong place.
4. Ask Your Itsy-Bitsy Spouse, Mom or Friend for a Spell-Check.
Your family and friends honestly want to help you find a job. Ask your itsy-bitsy-est, pickiest, fault-finding friend to find spelling errors in your resume. Be sure to specify "spelling errors." Otherwise, they might think their job is to critique your job goal, your font and your whole career to date.
I usually ask my 83-year-old mom to help me. She can't drive at night, but my mom can smell a wrong word at 50 feet. (And my patient editors have fixed 30 errors in this article so far today. Thanks, guys!)
5. Use an Automated Proofreader.
I know how much you hate to ask other people for help. As an alternative, you can use an automated proofreader like Grammarly.com. The free version is pretty good. It may not catch spelling mistakes in military terms or understand military acronyms, though.
6. Send It Tomorrow.
Time (and sleep) are the great healers. If you can possibly wait, please do. A few hours will rest your brain. In the morning, errors tend to stand out in technicolor.
Writing a resume, cover letter or email during the job hunt provokes enough anxiety. You and your brain can get ahead of the arrogance of the competition by accepting that you will find at least one error on your resume -- and taking the time to hunt it down.
Jacey Eckhart is Military.com's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website SeniorMilitaryTransition.com. Reach her at Jacey.Eckhart@Monster.com.
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Transitioning military, veterans and spouses may be qualified for the job, but they are missing the secrets of civilian hiring. Find out everything you need to know with our FREE master class series including our next class You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.