A few years ago I wrote a freelance article for a magazine and I included a sentence about a woman who put her wedding ring on a necklace and “wore it discreetly around her neck.” The magazine’s editor changed discreetly to discretely and after all this time I’m still annoyed.
Words matter. When you’re in job search, make sure that everything you produce, from your resumé to your cover letters to your business cards to your LinkedIn profile, is error-free. Mistakes like typos, bad punctuation or incorrect usage can create a negative perception that could mean the difference between getting a job offer and getting a rejection. In particular it’s important to be ruthlessly vigilant about proofreading everything. It’s a two-part process. First you need to make sure you’re using the right words in the right way. Discreet/discrete, affect/effect, they’re/their/there, whose/who’s are all examples of words that are easy to mix up or use incorrectly.
Then make sure all the words are spelled, and punctuated, perfectly. In other words, no “typos”. One little letter can make all the difference.
Example 1: A LinkedIn profile with a typo that changed Public Relations to Pubic Relations. Not good.
Example 2: A resumé with a typo that changed “sourcing” to “souring”. Also not good.
These are both real examples that I’ve seen recently and they demonstrate why it’s not enough to rely on spell-check, because both of the “wrong” words are actual words that the computer won’t catch as errors. I have a couple of tricks I use when I’m proofing my own material. First, I read it out loud, which can help catch usage or syntax errors. Then I use a ruler and read the whole document backwards, starting at the bottom and working my way up. Reading the words “out of context” can help me to pinpoint typos or punctuation errors. Finally, ask a friend to proofread your work, ideally someone who’s never seen it before. A fresh “eye” may catch something that you’ve overlooked.
This kind of meticulous review can be tedious but it’s worth it. You don’t want to be remembered as the candidate with the embarrassing typo in your resumé!
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Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas, with extensive experience in business communications and event planning.