I have the pleasure of working with a large number of people who are seeking employment and they are looking for work in a variety of sectors. While I stress the importance of correct spelling, grammar and format etc. on everyone’s resume, I admit to being slightly tougher when it comes to providing feedback to those seeking Office Administration positions.
If you are applying in this field, it’s likely you are going to be asked to type up a report, a letter, or correspondence of some kind that will become an external document. The document will then reflect on both the company you represent, and the person who wrote or dictated the original that you typed up. You’re being entrusted to take the words dictated and put them down not necessarily as they are spoken or hastily scribbled, but in correct proper English, (substitute whatever other language is appropriate) without errors. When you submit the finished document for a signature, say on a letter, the person about to pen the signature may give it the once over if they are wise, but they are not usually being critical of the punctuation etc., more the content. They hired you to do your job, and don’t want to waste time double checking your work.
The more time your employer or Supervisor feels they need to critique your work looking for errors, you can bet the less indispensable you are becoming. At some point, you may be replaced therefore when some kind of limit has been exceeded. In other words, if you want to keep your employment, your accuracy has to improve. To get the job however, you have to demonstrate a high level of professionalism in your own work, namely the cover letter and resume. After all, if the cover letter and resume contain errors, and that’s assumed to be a pretty important document for you, imagine the errors the employer is envisioning you’ll make on important documents for them!
Errors on a resume could indicate you didn’t proofread, you did proofread but did a poor job, you noticed the errors and didn’t care to fix them or you didn’t notice the errors at all. None of these show you in a good light. Still, the message you are sending the employer is one of the above. If the job you are applying for is something you really want to do, put in the effort to get it right. While spell-check is helpful, it’s not infallible.
Understand that the person doing the interviewing may have recognized their own shortcomings in this area, and be hiring someone with the aim of taking care of their own weakness via the hire. It defeats the purpose if they hire you and then find themselves constantly having to go over your final copy with a critical eye. Compare this to a Carpenter who applies for a job at a lumber mill. Should this person’s resume have a word spelled incorrectly, it may get noticed, but the lumber yard is looking for someone who is good with wood, not a computer and keyboard.Therefore, they will likely be much more forgiving.
Remember that asking someone else to look over your cover letter and resume for errors is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of wisdom. It stands to reason that if you don’t see an error on your page the first time, there is a greater likelihood that you will miss it a second whereas a fresh pair of eyes might find the error and point it out. Of course you have to consider who you are asking to check over your work. One person I was working with said she had her son look over her resume for errors before sending it out from home one evening. Her son is 10 years old. That decision to me is not well thought out. Funny though how she defended the decision for a good 10 minutes! In the end, I think she realized her error in judgement to herself as she didn’t do it again to my understanding.
The cover letter is essential in applying for jobs in the field of Office Administration because of the fact there is so much time in the job spent on keyboarding. Therefore if you were on the other side of the table, you’d have to admit I think that you would be increasingly critical of the applications you received. Employers do want the best person for the job, and they are prepared in most cases to give you a good orientation to their organization once hired, and will explain the ins and outs of the job on a daily basis. However, one thing they usually don’t plan on having to do is teach you language skills, proper keyboarding technique, etc. This is a given. If you are asked to do some kind of test for the employer, they’ll be sizing up your posture, your speed, your accuracy, your focus etc.
If you find yourself lacking in keyboarding speed and accuracy, there are many keyboarding programs available to improve in these areas, and many are free on line. Now is the time to improve in these areas no matter whether you are unemployed or happily employed. Your value to your current or next employer hangs in the balance.
All the best.