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Six Steps to Easily Correcting the Top Resume and Cover Letter Mistake

Cynthia is a Human Resources professional with twenty-nine years of HR experience. She is energized by helping others to see possibilities.

The Word "Error" Misspelled

The Word "Error" Misspelled


Misspelled or misused words top the list of mistakes that I've seen on applicants' resumes. As a hiring manager, I have seen countless resume mistakes; however, misspelled words never fail to pop up time and time again.

As I inspect an applicant's profile which looks awesome at first glance, I see that he/she misspelled a word. What frustrates me most about seeing this mistake so often is how easy it is to avoid. If the position that I am hiring for requires a keen attention to detail, I cannot hire this person in good faith. Why? Because I perceive that they have just proven that they don't pay close attention to detail.

Now, my presumption might be totally incorrect. Circumstances, such as a computer malfunction or auto-correction, may have contributed to this error. I don't know what occurred; but I must decide if I will offer this person the chance to interview. Unfortunately, I probably won't because I have many applicants to choose from. I will undoubtedly be able to assemble a viable applicant pool whose respective profiles contain no misspelled words.

Then, the heartbreaking outcome for applicants is that this simple-to-fix error costs many the chance to fully compete for their target job. So, today I am offering you a proven strategy for triumphing over misspelled words in your written communications.


Writing your document in six steps; Setting a goal date for completion; Taking a break; Proofreading; Having a buddy system; Using search engines; and Using spell check, are your keys to success in this space.

1. Set a goal date for completion

Setting a goal date for completion helps you hold yourself accountable for achieving your goal. Be realistic about when you can complete the mission. If you are in a relationship or have a family, you must balance your responsibilities. So, don't cheat your family or significant other out of quality time by focusing completely on this task. Also, remember that quality beats quantity any day. Steady, consistent progress pays off in the end.

2. Take a Break

Writing your document in three steps will help you to remain focused. This is the same process that I follow to write most of my written communication, regardless of the type or purpose.

Your first step should involve drafting the general outline of your document. These are the overarching categories, sub-topics, or sub-headings, you plan to write about.

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Your resume, at a minimum, should include your professional summary, skills, professional experience, education/training/certifications/licensure, associations/organizations, and/or community involvement/volunteering sections. Under each section name, one to three word bullet points about what you plan to include in each section. Although you can accomplish this task with pen and paper, I recommend using your computer. You'll be able to make edits more-easily and strengthen your computer skills at the same about efficient use of your valuable time.

Now, take a break. Listen to some music, do a chore, take a nap, or spend time with a loved one. Not only will you balance your day, but you will also renew your mind for the next step in the process. You decide how long your break will hour or a day. Don't take longer than a one-day break, though. Otherwise, you'll feel as if you're starting from ground zero again when you let too much time pass.

When you return to your document, create one-line action statements for each bullet point that you have listed under each heading.

3. Proofread Your Document

Now that you have completed your rough draft, take another short break, then proofread your document by slowly reading it out loud to yourself. Doing so will help you to determine if you are conveying the information that you want to convey. Also, reading out loud minimizes our brains tendency to auto-correct as we often do when we read silently to ourselves.

Make any necessary spelling corrections as you read. Then read each correction out loud again to ensure that your corrections are accurate.

4. Have a Buddy System

Ever heard the saying that "Two sets of eyes are better than one?" It is so true. When we write a document, we are so close to it, that it helps to have a fresh set of eyes to review it before pressing the send button. Ask a friend or family member who has a good grasp of the English language, and is a strong written communicator, to review your document for you. You'll be glad you did. Even if they find no spelling errors, they may offer useful advice on wording, document layout, etc. This will give you even more confidence in your document.

5. Use Search Engines

Whether you use a word processing platform like Microsoft Word or WordPerfect, or a content-management system like WordPress, you can search on words within your document while you write. This is another reason why I prefer typing my documents, from draft to final, rather than writing them long-hand, then typing them. It saves time and offers other conveniences. Just highlight your word of choice, right click, then choose the search option. This will return results that include the definition, spelling, and use of the word in a sentence. You can't beat that.

6. Use Spell Check

Word processing platforms have a spell check feature embedded within them. So, make good use if them. Another resource that I use is the free version of Grammarly®. It underlines suspected misspelled words in red and recommends options to correct the error or ignore its recommendations.


As you see here, we have many resources at our disposal for avoiding the use of misspelled words in our written communication. So, I encourage you to stand out in the applicant pool in a positive light by sharing a resume that is free from misspelled words. Even if you use only a couple of the these steps, your chances of emerging with a better final document increases. In fact, consider that your document is really not final until it is error-free. Remember, you get only one chance to make a first impression. When you get your invite to interview, you'll be happy you took to time to implement this tried and true strategy.

Here's to your job search success.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Cynthia B Okonkwo

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