Have you ever wondered why a top executive and good writer; one who is picky about spelling, grammar, and punctuation, misses an obvious mistake on an executive resume?
It’s painful, but it happens to all of us. A piece you have worked diligently on and revised to perfection gets printed or published and the typos come out of hiding. What’s more, the most important writing seems to have this problem. Why does this happen to essential career components like resumes and cover letters?
Sometimes It’s Human Error
You know what you want to say, and your brain is saying it, but your fingers hit the wrong thing. If you have spellcheck on, that little wavy red line alerts you to a problem and you can edit while typing. This works if you look at what you type while you type it, but if you don’t, keep that spellcheck on anyway and read over what you just wrote.
Professionals will often proofread by starting at the bottom and reading each sentence as a unit while working backwards through the piece. This helps your brain see it differently and accurately. The technique also can work for proofreading revisions; those small changes that suddenly make grammar or syntax wrong.
Sometimes It’s Technology
Depending on the program you use, formatting can change things around when the final copy is created. Check the preview before hitting the save button. That save button is important for keeping your versions accurate, too. Salty tears have been shed over words lost in cyberspace because the system crashed before the content was saved.
Autocorrect sounds like it would be a good thing, because automatically correcting is good, right? But if you are typing one word and the system “corrects” it to a word you don’t want, then autocorrect is incorrect. I don’t generally use autocorrect because this happens to me when I least expect it, and it can be missed.
Always It’s Good To Have Someone Else Proofread Important Writing
The more important the writing is, the more important it is to have more than one pair of eyes checking it over before submission. If you know a competent writer, ask them to check your work. Professional services, like a resume critique or executive resume writing service, are well worth the investment for essential career components like resumes, cover letters, etc.
Criticism is kind of painful, because nobody likes to be wrong. But without constructive criticism we’d all be in a fantasy world assuming everything is fine and wondering why things aren’t happening the way we imagined they would. Particularly when it comes to your career, criticism is a valuable tool. But that tool has to be in the hands of somebody who knows how to use it for your benefit.
A Professional Critique of Your Resume/Cover Letter Does 3 Things
Professional Perspective — A Professional Resume/Cover Letter Critique should be just that: professional. You want someone who is going to look at your cover letter and resume with the same perspective that potential employers, recruiters, and HR people will be looking at them. After all, these are the people who you are hoping to impress with that cover letter and resume, so it makes sense to write them with that goal in mind.
Experienced Advice — It isn’t that helpful to find out what’s wrong with your cover letter or resume if you don’t know how to fix it. A resume critique from Professional Resume Services includes concrete steps you can take to make improvements and provides insights on why these steps are suggested.
Immediate Return on Investment — As soon as you get your critique back, it includes a plan of action that you can immediately implement to get your career search back on track. The 3-4 page report catalogs every detail that needs to be improved and how to go about that improvement.
It doesn’t cost as much as you’d spend on a big date night, but it is worth every penny. A resume/cover letter critique from Professional Resume Services will give you an understanding of the problems and a way to fix those problems, making this criticism something you’ll appreciate getting.
Most managers are regular employees who get promoted, but a lot of times that promotion comes with the realization you lack some managerial skills. It’s different being in management, but there are some things you can work on even as an employee that will really help you when that promotion comes.
These skills are actually good to learn no matter what your position is. For instance, a bank teller needs to “act with authority” when explaining why a check bounced — Saying “It looks like you might have not had the funds in your account; I guess maybe that’s why it bounced” with hesitation doesn’t have the same level of authority as “Your account balance was $50.00 short of the check amount when it came into the bank and you don’t have any overdraft protection set up, so an automatic process began. This is what you can do about the situation….”
If you want to be ready to move up into management, start learning what you need to know.
A Checklist of Skills to Learn
learn how to be comfortable having difficult conversations — all managers have to be able to do this because sweeping problems under the rug doesn’t make them go away.
learn how to give feedback the right way — tell people when they are doing a good job, and if something is wrong, say so clearly without hinting around while providing a few reasonable suggestions.
learn how to clarify goals — ask the boss what practical benchmarks are being looked for so everyone can be on the same page. If you can’t measure it, you can’t all reach it.
learn how to act with authority — if the decision is based on policy, say so. If you want someone to do something, don’t make it sound like an option.
Learn how to separate relationships from work performance — sooner or later a manager has to confront a lousy employee and fire them even if that employee is a friend. This is one of the hardest things managers face.
Is Your Resume Ready?
One of the things that will be examined closely when your name comes up as a potential manager is your resume. If you aren’t confident your resume is ready for that examination, the Resume Critique can give you professional feedback and concrete suggestions for making sure you are ready for the next step in your career.
Have you ever noticed a dirty windshield before it reached the opaque stage? If you are like most of us, nope. You keep adjusting to the slowly deteriorating view until suddenly you realize it needs to be cleaned. And wow, what a difference once you wash it! There are a lot of areas in life where the same process happens. We are blind to the small changes until something triggers our realization that an accumulation has occurred.
Resumes Need To Be Cleaned Up Regularly
Here’s what happens to a resume after a while:
changes of address or phone number forgotten
promotions or training updates missed
customizing one part for a particular job application
skimming over stuff you already wrote because you know what you said
references who no longer are available
Each little thing is like another tiny spot on the windshield. Not hard to overlook, until you drive into the sunlight and realize you can’t see very well. Most of the time you can wash your windshield with the washer spray and wipers, but sometimes you need to get out and scrub. How does this apply to a resume?
A resume update certainly is something you can consider doing yourself, if you are confident that your writing skills are up to the task. Don’t rush the job, save your work, and make sure you go over the changes after a break. Even professional resume writers will miss things, and that’s why proofreading is part of the process. Everybody makes mistakes, and the best of us will build in safeguards to catch those mistakes before submitting the final version.
If you are not sure what you are missing in your resume update, we offer a Resume Critique service that gives you a professional opinion and concrete suggestions for the price of a fancy dinner out on the town. That’s a good bargain! You will get the help you want on updating your resume, know that it is an impressive, professional showcase of your abilities, and get a good lesson in what to be aware of the next time you realize your resume needs to be cleaned up.
Okay, criticism does usually have a bad rap, but when you look at the definition of “critic” in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it reads like this —
a : one who expresses a reasoned opinion on any matter especially involving a judgment of its value, truth, righteousness, beauty, or technique
b : one who engages often professionally in the analysis, evaluation, or appreciation of works of art or artistic performances
Doesn’t that sound like a good thing? I think it does, particularly when you are talking about a resume or cover letter. A good resume and cover letter are truly works of art, the product of skill and technique. They put on a performance displaying your qualifications for a starring role: the job you are applying for. Wouldn’t you want to make sure your resume and cover letter passed the high standards of a professional critic? After all, another professional critic will be reading these documents and deciding whether or not you pass the test to get called in for an interview.
Why You Should Hire A Resume Critic
One of the best investments you can make is the Resume Critique because you are paying for a professional assessment of your resume (and cover letter, if you choose) by a certified resume writer. Certified resume writers earn that qualification by passing necessary tests and standards are high. A critic who is certified in their field counts as a professional in every sense of the term. When a professional critic looks at your resume and cover letter in order to give you an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses along with a plan for improving those weak spots, that’s a good thing.
Communication is all about getting across barriers to connect. How many times have you suddenly realized that you do not understand what someone means when they use a familiar word? Or have you experienced this: you want a solution to a particular problem and the salesman keeps insisting you need a solution to a problem you don’t have?
Employers encounter a variation of this when an applicant submits a resume. In her excellent article, “How To Speak The Language of Hiring“, Lydia Dishman says that hiring managers want to know the quality of experience and how a candidate will approach the job once hired. Resumes, on the other hand, tend to focus on actions and education. As a result, the resume is addressing the wrong question.
You can speak the right language and address the right question, by understanding the process and perspective of the employer. Your resume has to pass through a couple of filters before you get called in for the interview. Most employers will use an electronic filter first, an applicant tracking system. Then the filtered list of potential candidates will be read by the recruiter, who scans for more detail. Finally, those resumes passing these filters is put on the desk of the person who determines the best fit for the job and schedules interviews.
That’s three different perspectives with their own questions; your resume must pass all of them. Intimidated? You don’t have to be. Just remember to focus on the specific job opening is. Tell how you developed a skill like collaboration by being on a team that worked on the very thing they are looking for. The computer sees the thing, the person sees that you know how to collaborate.
Still confused? We offer resume creation in our A La Carte Services and a Resume Critique for those who just need to know if they are saying what the employers want to hear in language that communicates.
Baking with flour is pretty basic, but the results sure can vary, can’t they? An expert can take the same basic ingredients I have in my kitchen and come up with impressive results because that expert knows how to use the basic ingredients with skill. Entry level resumes are just like flour; a basic ingredient that needs to be used with skill in order to be impressive. You can have your basic information in a fill-in-the-blanks resume template and it won’t trigger a second glance because it looks like all the other fill-in-the-blanks templated resumes the reviewer has seen so far. You don’t have a lot of experience or work history to individualize your resume, but you can make sure that your resume is a skillful presentation of everything you have to offer.
Look at samples of entry-level resumes. You may want to check out all of the resumes, for that matter. So you can see how they vary. Take note of how the same information can be presented several ways (kind of like a croissant vs a dinner roll) and it is fine. All resumes, no matter how they are put together, need to be well-written and easy to scan for information.
Make a list of everything you have done: education, coursework, skills, volunteer work, etc. Did any of the sample resumes seem like a good recipe for your basic information?
Pick a format and put your information into it. Does it work? Can you tweak this recipe to make it work?
Now proofread your resume after you take a break so you are looking at it clearly. Many times a typo will slip past the writer because you know what you meant to say.
One of the reasons Professional Resume Services began offering a Resume Critique is because many job hunters have asked us to look over their resumes with expert eyes and help them with the details that will take their resumes into the “impressive” category. It isn’t expensive because it doesn’t take that long, but the results of following professional advice on your basic entry-level resume will make a huge difference in your career.
Some will tell you that nobody reads cover letters any more, so there’s no good reason to write them. But there actually are very good reasons to write a professional, researched, compelling cover letter, and here’s the top reason why: It is your opening argument that the attached resume is worth taking the time to read.
There are many helpful hints on writing your cover letter and it is a good idea to read up on this skill before you start drafting yours. Then start by taking the specific job description you are applying for and matching your qualifications to that description. Find the company’s goals and mission statement. Can you see how they mesh with the job and how you could be the best candidate for that opening?
If possible, discover who will be reading the resumes and use their name in the opening. Present your case for their consideration by a well-written and concise explanation of how your qualifications fit their needs and their goals. Reference any personal recommendations you have within the organization. Think of who will read your letter, what their goals are, and how to show them you can be the one to meet those goals.
An opening argument isn’t the entire database of evidence in a debate; it is the distillation of that evidence in a simple form that communicates conviction of opinion. Or to put it another way, it is the advertising copy that gets the buyer interested in looking at the product more closely. If that advertising is full of grammar mistakes and spelling errors, the product is seen as jokeworthy and will probably be rejected.
In the same way, if your cover letter is full of grammar mistakes and spelling errors, your resume will probably be rejected without being read because it will be assumed that your standards are lower than the reader’s. If you know you make grammar and spelling mistakes, use all the tools at your disposal to correct them. Computer programs like spellcheck and grammar checks are helpful, but a person will catch things they miss. Ask a friend who cares about writing well to proofread your cover letter. If you lack a friend with those skills, use a service like our Resume Critique and get a professional opinion.
Cover letters can convince a potential employer to consider a resume they might ignore otherwise. And that is a good reason to write one!
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