Your resume is your introduction to prospective employers. It's their first impression of you, and the last thing you want is to look careless or silly. Resume grammar mistakes can completely sabotage even the most carefully prepared presentation.
Kinds of Resume Grammar Mistakes
Syntax describes sentence construction. How you arrange the words and phrases of your sentences makes a big difference in how you come across to readers. When speaking, words are accompanied by body language which clarifies the meaning. In instances where what you’re saying isn’t clear, you have the opportunity to repeat or rephrase.
Not so in a resume. Notice that the preceding sentence is a fragment. While fragments are okay in informal speech, they’re a resume grammar mistake. Avoid them like the plague. While you’re at it, avoid cliches such as the previous sentence.
Word choice is closely related to syntax, because it includes choosing the correct words to express exactly what you want to express. The most common kind of resume grammar mistakes in word choice centers on homonyms. Homonyms are those pesky words that are pronounced the same, but are spelled differently, and usually have much different meanings.
The homonyms their, there, and they’re all sound the same when you’re describing something to someone, but using the wrong one in your resume makes you look unprofessional. Using your rather than you’re is another deadly resume grammar mistake.
Your spell-checker doesn’t catch homonyms or other word choice errors. Some grammar checkers will, but if you’re unsure, it’s best to have a cheat sheet handy to shows the correct usage of each.
Once you have chosen the correct words, check and double check your spelling. A mis–spelled word is like a beacon to a potential employer and makes it easy to toss your resume in the round file. Most modern computer spell-checkers are reliable, but it behooves you to print out your resume and carefully proofread.
Once you’ve chosen your words carefully, meticulously arranged them in good order, and corrected any spelling errors, look for the final kind of resume grammatical mistake: punctuation.
Apostrophes are a troublesome punctuation error. Apostrophes are generally used in contractions, such as isn’t or can’t, and to show possession. Apostrophes are not used to indicate plurals. A common resume grammar mistake is to use an expression such as: In the 1990's, I was manager. 1990s is plural, so using the apostrophe is incorrect.
How To Avoid Resume Grammar Mistakes
Proofread every sentence carefully.
Read narrative portions from the bottom up, that is, start with the last word of the last sentence and read backwards to the top. Read the whole resume aloud. These techniques may sound silly, but it's amazing how many mistakes you'll discover if you try them.
Ask another person to read your resume. If you live near a college or school, ask a business or English teacher to search for resume grammar mistakes. As a bonus, he or she may also point out other ways in which to improve your writing.
You can also use a resume checking service like LiveCareer’s Resume Check. It identifies 20 common resume mistakes, and gives suggestions for how to fix them.
Perfection takes extra time and effort, but making your writing perfect will avoid resume grammar mistakes that will sabotage your chances of obtaining your dream job.