Avoiding Typos (or Being Your Own ‘Spell Check’)

January 24, 2012 by Careerminds

Jennifer Fry
Careerminds Consultant

It’s happened to the best of us: you’re minding your own business, typing up a storm when, suddenly, it happens. One of those pesky red lines appears, highlighting a silly little typo, and you’re forced to break your typing rhythm to right-click and choose the appropriate replacement. You think to yourself, “What  a hassle,” but secretly, I bet you’re thanking your computer for catching that glaring mistake for you.
There exists something, however, that may frustrate you even more: misspelled words or poor grammar that Spell Check doesn’t catch– gasp! Fear not, job seekers, because there is an easy solution to this potentially embarrassing problem.
Too often, we allow ourselves to get lost in our technology and forget all about the ways of the past– do you think your parents had Spell Check? And they somehow wrote perfectly nice resumes and cover letters, and found jobs without it. Proofreading might feel obsolete, but I can’t be the only one who’s accidentally typed desert instead of dessert and found that Spell Check had done me no good. Desert is still a word, and that’s all your computer knows. To help break us of our Spell Check dependency, here are a few proofreading tips that will help you construct a perfectly spelled and composed resume and cover letter.

  1. Read a printed copy. Even if you’re planning to e-mail the document to an employer or upload the file to a job board, it’s easiest to proofread when you’re looking at a hard copy. Not only does it allow you the opportunity to make notes on the page, but simply viewing the words in a different format may help you catch errors you’d previously overlooked.
  2. Read out loud. When you actually have to say each word, you’re less likely to skim over an error. Plus, some mistakes may be easier to hear than they would be to see.
  3. Give yourself a break. After you’ve typed up your document, print it out and leave it there for an hour before reading it. This practice allows you a little time to forget what you’ve written, making it easier to see the actual words, not just what you think you wrote.
  4. Read it backwards. This tip probably works for spelling mistakes only, not grammar, but in order to overcome your brain’s own ability to correct small spelling errors as you read, start from the end and read word by word.
  5. Be careful of homonyms. Accept and except; compliment and complement; two, to and too; the infamous their, there and they’re. They all sound similar to one another, and they’re all real words, so pay special attention to how you use them. Spell Check can only tell you whether or not you’ve typed a real word, not necessarily whether or not you’ve typed the right word.
  6. Double-check numbers and names. If you’re using figures and proper names, take a moment to check your facts to make sure 1,000 wasn’t supposed to be 10,000, or Steven wasn’t actually spelled Stephen.
  7. Have someone else read it. Even if you have already proofread it, yourself, ask a friend or family member to read it, as well. A fresh set of eyes may immediately spot mistakes that you were able to overlook.
  8. Keep a proofreading list. There are some mistakes that you are more prone to make than others. So, make future proofreading ventures run more smoothly by compiling a list of your own most commonly made errors and making sure to check for them on each document you create.

As the saying goes, nobody’s perfect, but poorly written resumes and cover letters may be your job search’s undoing. Misspelled words and improper grammar can damage your credibility in the eyes of a hiring manager, so take these simple steps to ensure that what they’re paying attention to are your qualifications, not your typos.

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Careerminds provides scalable, strategic solutions to organizations seeking affordable, web-based outplacement services. Using a Web 2.0 e-learning platform that delivers affordable, online career transition services, Careerminds provides a high-tech and high-touch blend of on-demand career transition education supported by senior-level career consultants to help displaced workers reenter the workforce quickly.

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