In this era of texting, tweeting, Facebook, and everything shorthand, it might be surprising to learn that knowing how to compose well-written communication, complete with correct spelling and grammar, even matters anymore. Guess what? It does. Perhaps nowhere is correctness more critical than in a resume or cover letter.
When searching for a job, your resume and cover letter is your opportunity to make a great first impression. Many people spend a great deal of time compiling extensive information on their qualifications, skills, and past experiences, but skimp when it comes to proofreading or even spell-checking their final drafts. The result is a sloppy, unimpressive document that doesn’t portray a very good first impression.
The majority of hiring managers spend mere seconds on each candidate’s written materials, making speedy decisions on who is worth a second look and who is destined for the circular file. If your letters and/or resumes are wrought with errors, it gives a reader the impression you are uneducated, lazy, or simply careless – not the kind of employee they want to hire, that’s for sure.
Here are a few tips for ensuring your first impression is a good one:
- Make Use of Spellcheck – It may seem too simple to be included here, but many job seekers fail to take the easiest step of all and use their computer’s spell check feature. In their rush to get their materials to a potential new employer, they click “Send” or “Print” without even letting the computer do the work for them. Granted, spellcheck won’t find every mistake and it certainly won’t flag such mistakes as using the wrong form of a word (i.e. affect instead of effect; here instead of hear; or except instead of accept). You must find those kinds of errors yourself.
- Look for Tense Disagreement – The majority of resume writers are not professional writers by trade. As such, they tend to make common errors like unintentionally – and incorrectly – switching tenses in the middle of a cover letter. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind: Use the present tense to refer to anything related to your current job, but switch to the past tense when talking about former jobs or accomplishments. Never change tenses in the middle of a sentence. If necessary, use two sentences to convey your message.
- Rely on a Friend or Colleague – Anytime you are so intimately involved in something as your own resume or cover letter, you are apt to read it as you intended to write it. It can be helpful, therefore, to have an unbiased friend or colleague review your draft to look for obvious errors. They don’t have to be a professional writer or editor, but if you have access to someone with a degree in English or extensive writing experience, it would behoove you to ask for their help. Chances are they will be glad to lend a hand. After all, working with words is what they do.
For assistance with resumes, cover letters, and other aspects of the job search process, contact High Profile Staffing today.