Strategy 4 easy ways to improve your résumé that sound obvious — but hardly anyone does

  • Published:

Spelling and grammar mistakes on your résumé can be an instant deal-breaker for employers. Here's how résumé coaches recommend you avoid them.

Don't overlook the obvious. play

Don't overlook the obvious.

(Evgeny Belikov, Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr)
24/7 Live - Subscribe to the Pulse Newsletter!

  • Spelling mistakes on your résumé can spell disaster for your chances of landing a job.
  • Résumé coaches recommend you do a couple of easy things to eliminate mistakes from your document, including distrusting spell checkers and reading it out loud.


For many employers, seeing spelling and grammar mistakes on a potential hire's résumé is an instant deal-breaker.

That means even if your qualifications are impressive, a glaring error on your résumé could stand in the way between you and your dream job.

Business Insider asked two résumé coaches — Dana Leavy-Detrick of Brooklyn Resume Studio and Jared Redick of the San Francisco-based Résumé Studio — what the average person can do to wipe out mistakes from their résumes.

"Somewhere along the way, we all agreed that a single mistake on a résumé was reason for tossing an otherwise beautifully crafted resume into the trash," Redick told Business Insider. "Fair or not, it's baked into the fabric of our recruiting habits, so there's no room in your résumé for typos, accidental date transpositions, untruths, and silly errors."

Here's what you can do to cut down on your mistakes:

1. Don't rely on spell-checkers

Spell-checkers and other writing tools can be of great aide to the orthographically challenged job applicant, but they won't solve all your problems, Redick said.

They won't always spot the difference between "manager" and "manger," for example, a mistake that Leavy-Detrick said was one of the most common her clients make. The same goes for other confusing pairs like "ensure" and "insure"; "complement" and "compliment"; and "affect" and "effect."

Redick recommends you proofread your document and if necessary, ask a trusted friend to look it over before you send it in.

2. Choose your style and stay consistent

Some matters of style, like whether to use the Oxford comma, are up to the writer, Redick said. Just make sure you stay consistent and follow your own guidelines.

Another big style choice you'll have to make is whether you spell out numbers lower than 10 or simply type the numeral.

"Formal writing requires numbers ten and under to be spelled out, while marketing materials can use numerals for eye-catching expediency," Redick said. "A résumé is both a formal document and a marketing tool, so you get to make the choice."

As long as you stay committed to your choice and don't switch between the two, you'll be OK.

3. Proofread your document — but take a break first

"Always proof your document at least twice, and do so at a time when you're relaxed and able to review it with a clear mind," Leavy-Detrick told Business Insider.

"When I complete a document, I typically step away purposely to put distance between myself and the project. If I approach it at a later point, I'm more likely to tune into errors that I may not have caught if I'm trying to review immediately after writing."

4. Print out your résumé and read it out loud

"One of the best ways I've found to proofread is to print the document, stand up, and read it aloud," Redick said.

"This helps me catch not only typos and small errors, but also matters of style that I might otherwise miss."

By paying a little more attention to your résumé before you send it in, you can be confident you're giving yourself a better chance of impressing the right people.

"The resume is the first impression, and you need to put your best foot forward as such," Leavy-Detrick said.

"Someone applying to a 'dream job' would make certain they're presenting themselves in the best possible manner to maximize their chances."