Proofread – Failing to do it Can Cost You a Job

Proofread Is Important with Career Incite

I once read an application submitted for a job posting and there was no punctuation in the cover letter or resume whatsoever.  Did the writer proofread the document at all? This had me thinking that the writer had paid little or no attention to detail. Or perhaps made a poor choice as to how to be creative. Certainly, they never had anyone else proofread the documents. Interestingly, a common spelling mistake or ”typo” I see when reviewing resumes of students, was the name of their school.

In some cases, it was misspelled, in others, they used a nickname or abbreviation that may or may not be commonly recognized. I even saw a cover letter and resume in which the applicant misspelled their own name. I know you are thinking that perhaps their name had an odd spelling. However, the reason I knew it was not just an unusual spelling is because that person spelled their name two different ways on their resume and cover letter. What was, and still is also amazing to me, is how many letters start with Dead Human Resources Manger. (Did you notice that there are two errors in that salutation?)

Why Proofread?

It is essential to proofread your documents when you are applying to jobs. Spelling mistakes, poor grammar, punctuation errors, and typos are embarrassing and costly. Furthermore, they can imply a lack of attention to detail, a lack of interest in the job, and possibly, weak written English communication skills. Watching for these types of mistakes is also a quick and easy way, for whoever is doing an initial screening of applicants, to reduce the pile to a more manageable size.

Proofreading is not easy, particularly on your own work. Sometimes, we work on something so long or read it so many times that we have some of it memorized and miss things. Our eyes can also play tricks on us; and our brains will automatically correct things and fill-in missing words if they are common phrases. For instance, our brain might not register that a word is duplicated if they are divided by a line break (one appears at the end of one line and at the beginning of the next).

Take the Test

Let’s test your brain: how many F’s are in the following sentence:

Finished files are the result of years of scientific study, combined with years of experience.

You can find the correct number at the end of this blog.

Proofread Out Loud

To catch grammar errors and see if your writing flows smoothly, it sometimes helps to read things out loud. Even better, read it aloud to someone else and give them permission to interrupt you whenever they hear anything that doesn’t sound quite right. They should also stop you whenever you use an abbreviation or acronym that has not been spelled-out previously in your documents. Then, once it is sounding good, proofread it, and have someone else proofread it to ensure the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are correct.

Even Spellcheck Can Provide Errors

Most word processing software applications include spellcheck that will catch spelling errors and typos – BUT they will NOT catch everything. Beware that spellcheck will not catch wrong words if they are spelled correctly. For instance, in the above example, “Dead” and “Manger” are both correctly spelled words. Some spellcheck programs might offer you suggested spellings when you right-click on a flagged word. However, it might not recognize what the word is supposed to be and offer only incorrect or inappropriate words. And, even if the correct word in the correct tense is listed, it may not be the first suggestion – so if you choose a word from the list, do so carefully.

Language Mix-Ups

Also, be aware that a word or phrase can technically be correct but not quite appropriate or what you meant. Here is an example: “Your company’s commitment to the environment is very adorable.” In this case, it would be better to say “Your company’s commitment to the environment is very admirable.” One of two things likely happened, either the writer misspelled admirable and when spellcheck offered some suggest replacements, they chose the first one on the list; or English is not their first language and they were using a translation dictionary. Unfortunately, not all words translate directly from other languages easily into single words in English. You have to consider the context. If English is not your first language, you should always enlist the assistance of someone else (preferably whose first language is English) to proofread your final draft.

Have Others Proofread the Final Draft

That being said, absolutely EVERYONE should, whenever possible, have at least one other person proofread their final draft. I am a trained proofreader and often miss some of my own mistakes. Please notice, however, that I said have someone else read your FINAL draft. You can really annoy people if you ask them to read something full of obvious mistakes because you did not even proofread it once yourself; or ask them to read the same letter a dozen times because you keep making changes. If they read it too many times, they too will be less likely to notice errors. Try to find someone who themselves has relatively good spelling and grammar (although they do not necessarily have to be a good writer or a professional proofreader).

If you are not chosen for a job interview, you will likely never know why. As mentioned before, there are many reasons and only a few of them you can control. Do not let yourself be screened-out because you failed to proofread your cover letter, resume, and any other documents you are submitting. This is one of the few things you can control!

Test Results

Now, as promised, here’s the answer to how many F’s are in Finished files are the result of years of scientific study, combined with years of experience. Did you count six? Do not stress if you didn’t, as lots of people get it wrong.

There are at least two possible reasons:

According to Mighty Optical Illusions, when people read sentences in their heads, they often subconsciously ignore the word “of” because it doesn’t add any massive value to the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

Sharp Brains attribute people’s failure to count the f’s accurately to the fact that people think of the f in the word “of” as a “V” sound. Therefore, their brains ignore the actual spelling and fail to count all the F’s.


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