One of the qualifications for a professional resume writer is a love of English and knowledge about how to put words together to make a good impression. Sometimes I am baffled by the mistakes I see in do-it-yourself resumes, but the following DIY mistakes are common and easy to catch if you look for them:
• Numbers: The first DIY resume writer listed all his jobs in reverse chronological order. Good so far. But when he put down the dates, he had one full-time job lasting from 1990-2012 and another from 2010-2014. Unless he was working full-time for two employers at the same time, the dates were wrong. Another common error with numbers is to write money amounts like this: $20 million dollars. If you have the dollar sign ($), the word “dollars” is redundant. In addition, many people accidentally reverse or drop digits on their cell phone number or zip code. Check all numbers carefully.
• Punctuation: Yet another DIY resume writer had a real challenge with punctuation, with commas being thrown in or omitted at random and semi-colons appearing in the middle of sentences with no reason. If punctuation is not your strength, ask an English major to review your resume or consult a grammar book. In most case, the simpler the punctuation, the better. But the exceptions are important.
• Spelling: The third DIY resume writer wanted to explain how her various talents work together to make her an excellent chef. She wrote: “Gourmet cooking skills complimented by ability to motivate, organize, and lead teams.” However, the word she really wanted was “complemented.” If you use words of 3 or more syllables, be absolutely sure you know what they mean—look them up.
• Factual Information: The final DIY resume writer assumed he knew the names of the companies he worked for. But is it Wal-Mart or Walmart? Is it Bloomingdales or Bloomingdale’s? Is it Nestle or Nestlé? (In each case, the second spelling is correct.) Any company can change its name and the names of its products over time. Never assume you are spelling a company or product name correctly based solely on your memory.
I avoid these mistakes when writing and correct them when proofreading. However, like all professional resume writers, I also depend on you, the job seeker, to catch factual mistakes (for example, dates of employment and figures) that only you know. Always proofread your resume carefully.