Your resume and cover letter may seem flawless to you at this point, and after all the work and time you’ve invested in them, they should. But before you attach your resume to your letter and click send, take one more close look over both documents and you may find all five of these hidden errors and problems. Better yet, have someone else take a look for you, since you’ve been studying your phrases and subheadings for so long that you might not be seeing them with total clarity.
These simple mistakes find their way into all kinds of written documents, but when they occur on a resume or cover letter, they can have a serious impact on the duration of your job search and the quality of the offers you receive. Fix them now and you’ll thank yourself later.
1. Missing Words
Your spellchecker won’t catch these, and your grammar-check function will probably miss them too. But when we type quickly or get excited about what we’re trying to say (which often happens during the job search), it’s easy for the pace of our thoughts to exceed the pace of our typing fingers. Double check for missing articles like “and” and “the”. And make sure you include all the necessary modifiers and pronouns that can change the meaning of your phrases.
2. Contraction Problems
You already know that “you’re” means “you are” and “your” implies possession. You also know the difference between “it’s” and “its”. (If you don’t, now is the time to look this information up.) The correct term is “Master’s degree”, not “Masters”. But again, these mistakes can slip under the radar very easily, especially in a document that you’ve skimmed over a thousand times.
3. Capitalization Issues
This one can be very tricky, but do your best to obey the letter of the law, not the spirit. Even if it seems awkward, capitalize the first letter of Bachelor’s and Master’s, and capitalize every word within a complete proper noun, including the entire name of a previous employer or university. For example “The University of Utah”, “The Johnson Corporation”, and “The American Heart Association.”
4. Spacing Problems
Check the number of line spaces between the end of your summary and the beginning of your education section. This number should equal the spaces between your education section and your work history section. No matter how many you use, stay consistent throughout the document. Make sure you also keep a consistent number of spaces between the title of each subheading and the content that appears below the title. While you’re taking a close look at your line spacings, check the spacing between words as well. Get rid of extra and missing spaces, and make sure you leave just one space, not two, after every period.
5. Awkward Phrasing
Read every phrase in your document aloud, one at a time. This will help you identify phrases that are convoluted and messy or statements that make no sense. Every sentence and bullet point should have a clear subject and object, and every statement should be complete and clear. If you just can’t figure out how to make a complicated sentence work, go ahead and break it into two or three separate statements, or get rid of it altogether and start over.
Read Your Resume Backwards
Catch these errors by reading your entire document from the bottom of the page to the top and from the right side to the left. Visit LiveCareer for more tips and guidelines that can help you polish your application before you send it off.