How to Be a Better Proofreader

by | Jul 22, 2020 | Resume Tips

In so many of my advice articles, I have referenced the need to have error-free documents. Whether it is your Cover Letter, your Resume, or some other correspondence, your submission should be free of spelling and grammatical errors. Being 100% correct may not provide you with a competitive advantage, but it also won’t create the mistake that will knock your candidacy out.

A document that is not 100% correct reflects poorly on your attention to detail, your commitment to excellence, and causes your written communication skills to be questioned. So, it is quite obvious that a major goal should not only be to submit compelling documents that sell your candidacy, but also items that are error-free. Don’t slip and think just your formal documents need to be perfect, as any texts and/or e-mails should also be 100% correct. Some of the bad habits you may have with your personal communication can’t creep into what you are doing at work.

Unfortunately, for many Job Seekers, it is very difficult to automatically write correctly and they lack the knowledge of how to become a better proofreader.

The goal should be to write it correctly the first time, and not rely on proofreading to “clean” the document for you. Here are some tips that should help you in being correct as you write the document.

  1. Take Your Time: Your job search should be your priority so, therefore, spend the time necessary to make it perfect. Some people say that their writing style is to type everything so that they don’t forget a key point as they go along in the process. In my opinion, a better way is if you have already hand sketched out your document, highlighting the key points, so that, you won’t have to worry about missing anything and can take more time on accuracy.
  2. Correct As You Go: Similar to #1, you should not be in a hurry to complete your document. An early document that is riddled with errors will do much more damage than a perfect document that comes in a little bit later. If you see a mistake, don’t move on telling yourself that you will correct everything in the end. Rather, stop and make the correction before you forget about it amidst all the other changes that will have to be made.
  3. Don’t Just Rely on Microsoft: Microsoft is good, but it is not always 100%. For example, if you have mistakenly typed a wrong word, but it is actually a real word, then it won’t flag when spell checking. It is tempting to just automatically hit the accept button for everything that comes up, but please actually read the recommended change and make sure it works for you.
  4. Turn Off the Auto Correction: I would also recommend against any auto-correction for texts. The software never seems to work correctly and could result in you sending something incorrect or (even worse) inappropriate.

So, you now have written your message or document, and it is time to do some actual proofreading. Here are some tips that will make your proofreading process even better.

  1. Reread Everything You Write: Do a thorough review of your Cover Letter and Resume. Since those documents are usually not as time sensitive, I recommend waiting a day before you do a final review so that you are looking at them with “fresh” eyes. Don’t fall for the temptation of assuming that a simple text reply will be correct, and you hit send without reviewing.
  2. Don’t Be Embarrassed When Proofreading: If you are someone who does better by proofreading out loud, then read verbally. You may even want to record yourself reading the document out loud to see if that assists you even more in picking up something.
  3. Engage Someone Else to Read: An extra set of eyes is rarely a bad idea, but even better would be to select someone with good writing skills. Ask this person to proofread your documents with a critical eye. If they are not reading in-person and are editing electronically, please make sure they are tracking any recommended changes, so you have a record of it.

Everyone makes mistakes but given that you control the timing and submission of any written correspondence to a prospective employer, errors in this area should be non-existent. From a Hiring Manager’s perspective, if I can’t expect you to be error-free during the job search, how can I expect you to be that way in the actual job. So, take your time and ask for help so that you can be confident (when you hit “send”) that you are transmitting your best effort.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of readers. It is not meant to provide advice with request to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

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