Tips for Editing and Proofreading Your Resume

Hand holding a pen proofreading a resume
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Before you send or upload a resume to apply for a job, it's important to proofread it so it's perfect. Your resume and its accompanying cover letter both represent the professionalism that you would bring to the position you’re applying for. Thus, even simple mistakes like a typo or grammatical error can cost you a job interview.

How to Proofread Effectively

There are a few effective strategies you can use while proofreading. Your first step should be to read your resume slowly from the beginning to check for spelling and grammatical errors. Then, run spell check on your computer and repeat this step (note that spell check is not always 100% accurate and won’t identify words like homonyms which are spelled correctly but misused in your text (such as “there”— there”—“they’re”).

Finally, read the resume backward, sentence by sentence. This is a very useful proofreading technique since it forces you to slow down and pay close attention to each phrase and sentence.

Resume Proofreading Checklist

Review this list of common resume mistakes to make sure that your resume is well-written and error-free.

Spelling Mistakes

  • Don't use words with which you aren't familiar.
  • Use a dictionary as you write.
  • Perform a spell check on your finished resume.
  • Carefully read every word in your resume. If you write "from" instead of "form," your spell check will be unable to detect your mistake.
  • Have a friend or two proofread your resume for you.

Punctuation Mistakes

  • Check for periods at the end of all full sentences.
  • If you are an older job applicant who learned to type on a typewriter, make sure that there is only a single space (not two spaces) between the period ending a sentence and the new sentence.
  • Be consistent in your use of punctuation.
  • Always put periods and commas within quotation marks (i.e., Won awards including the "John H. Malcolm Memorial Service Award.").
  • Avoid using exclamation points.
  • Try to avoid using comma splices (where two complete sentences are connected with a comma).

Grammatical Mistakes 

  • Do not switch tenses within the sections of your resume - be sure they are consistent for each job you list. The duties you perform in your current job should be in the present tense (i.e., write reports), but the ones you may have performed at all previous jobs should be presented in the past tense (i.e., wrote reports).
  • Capitalize all proper nouns.
  • When expressing numbers, write out all numbers between one and nine (i.e., one, five, seven), but use numerals for all numbers 10 and above (i.e., 10, 25, 108).
  • If you begin a sentence with a numeral, spell out that numeral (i.e., Eleven service awards won while employed.).
  • Make sure your date formats are consistent (i.e., 11/22/20 or November 22, 2020, or 11.22.20. Choose one and stick with it.).

Check for Word Usage

Be on the lookout for the following easily confused words:

  • accept (to receive)
  • except (to exclude)
  • all right (correct)
  • alright (this is not a word)
  • affect (a verb: to bring about change)
  • effect (a noun: result)
  • personal (private)
  • personnel (staff members)
  • role (a character assigned or a function)
  • roll (to revolve).

Use action words (i.e., wrote reports, increased revenues, directed staff).

Check Dates, Contact Information, Abbreviations, and Spacing

  • Check the dates of all prior employment.
  • Check your address and phone number - are they still current and correct?
  • Check the number of spaces separating your categories: are they consistent?
  • Check the abbreviation of state names. All state abbreviations are two letters - no periods. For example, New York is abbreviated NY, California is CA, and Florida is FL. Look up other state abbreviations.

Resume Design Is Important

  • Don't overcrowd your resume; allow for plenty of white space.
  • Keep the number of fonts you use to a minimum -- two at the most.
  • Use a conservative font that is easy to read, like Times New Roman or Verdana. Do not justify the lines of type on your resume. Allow the right side of the page to "rag."
  • Do not overuse capitalization, italics, underlines, or other emphasizing features.
  • Make sure your name, address, phone number, and email address appear on your resume and all correspondence, preferably at the top of the page.
  • For a paper resume, print your resume on white or cream paper using a good-quality printer. Print on one side of the paper only.

What to Omit from a Resume

  • Omit salary history.
  • Omit sex, age, race, marital status, or other similar personal information (unless you are writing an international CV).

The smallest typo on your resume, cover letter, or other application materials can prevent you from getting a job interview, since employers may conclude that you lack attention to detail and are content to present sloppy work.

These additional proofreading tips will help you make sure your documents are perfect.

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