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Don't Kill Your Résumé With Dumb Errors

Ramon Greenwood -- Don't doom your résumé and cover letter to the trash can by sending them out with dumb mistakes such as misspelled words.

"If you make errors on your application materials, the assumption is you'll make mistakes on the job," says Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps.

Three-fourths of the executives surveyed by Accountemps declared just one or two typos in a résumé kills an application. Four out of ten declare that one typo means the axe.

Incomplete sentences or missing words can also kill your chances for getting even a cursory review of your résumé, to say nothing of serious consideration.

There's no excuse for such errors. You can avoid them by taking these steps:

1. Run your documents through the spell-check on your computer. (Keep in mind this is not fool-proof. Your computer is not going to know whether you mean "there" or "their.")

2. Avoid clichés and catch phrases that may be popular for the moment.

3. Read your covering letter and résumé aloud. Track word for word with a pencil. This is the time to check your punctuation.

4. Set your materials aside for at least 24 hours. Go back and repeat steps 1, 2, and 3.

5. Have a third party read your materials for context, as well as the type of errors we are considering here. Get their opinion as to whether your presentation makes a logical case for your application.

Of course, it is best that this third party be a professional career coach, but that may not be possible. Any review by another pair of eyes is better than no review at all.

As a final step, take an objective look at your materials. Are you using quality paper for the printed versions? (No colored stock.) Is the typeface a standard one? Are you sending your application to a real live person with a title? Are your contact points correct and readily available?

It's difficult enough to get your covering letter and résumé seriously considered without making dumb killer mistakes.

You can get coaching on how to protect and advance your career in tough time by subscribing to Ramon Greenwood's free semimonthly newsletter, The Career Accelerator (c) at As a bonus you'll receive the 16-page ebook, How to Get a Raise (c). For much more free career coaching, visit Your Blog for Career Advice and Greenwood's career counseling comes from a world of experience, including serving as Senior Vice President of American Express, an entrepreneur, professional director, career coach, and author.

© 2009 Ramon Greenwood

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