“Proofread My Resume Please?”


If you ask someone to proofread your resume, you have to be open and receptive to the possibility that they will find mistakes. If you’re going to argue and defend your errors instead of correcting them, you’re not only wasting the time of the person doing the proofreading, you’re also risking their willingness to provide you with honesty.

Yesterday I had two very different experiences with two different people in the drop in Employment Resource Centre where I work. The first was with a fellow who was applying for employment with the Province of Ontario; which meant there were very specific instructions on how to submit an application; not only in terms of the resume, but also with respect to his cover letter and how to apply.

This gentleman approached me with his initial resume and to be honest it was extremely poorly constructed. It contained irregular spacing, multiple fonts; the content was weak and didn’t relate to the job he was applying for at all. Had he submitted this version of his resume it wouldn’t even have got more than a glance let alone led to the offer of an interview.

During the course of what was a fairly busy morning for me personally assisting a number of people, he would make revisions based on my suggestions and then approach me again for further feedback. He did this five times, and with every presentation, he was getting closer to a stronger application; not to mention his basic understanding of how to make a resume in general was becoming stronger. It was precisely because he was genuinely appreciative of the feedback that he was offered more and more. In short, he took the advice he sought out and implemented the changes; never getting frustrated but learning from the experience and implementing the ideas he received.

Now I contrast his experience with another person who approached me much later in the day. This woman approached me and said she was applying for a job and would I like to read over her cover letter, resume and list of references. I looked at the cover letter first only because it was on top of the resume. The initial sentence began, “I am submitting my Resume…”

I stopped reading and pointed out that the capital letter ‘R’ in the word resume should be lower case not a capital, and she said to me, “Well I’m not going to change it now. I’ve gone back to this cover letter that worked for me years ago so we’ll see.” I stopped proofreading the cover letter right there and looked at the resume.

The resume wasn’t a disaster at first glance, but it was missing the most recent two years on it. When I asked about that she said, “Oh this is a resume from two years ago, I’m just sending it the way it is.” I shuffled the papers and moved to the list of references. Now this document looked fine. It only contained three names instead of a standard four, but there were titles and contact information so it looked appropriate. However, just as I was about to say it was fine, she voluntarily said, “The first guy is dead but I’m leaving him on there.”

I put all three sheets down and said, “You’re intentionally leaving a dead person on your list of references instead of replacing him with someone else who can actually be contacted and speak to your experience?” She told me that she was indeed, because – and you guessed it – it worked years ago so she was using it again.

So what’s the point of asking someone for their feedback if you aren’t open to hearing what they’ve got to say, or are going to actually implement any of the changes they recommend? I told her in summing things up that there were problems with all three documents and that she really should make some changes to them if she wanted to improve her odds of getting an interview. I added however that it didn’t appear she was ready to make any changes at this time, so I wasn’t going to get into identifying all the corrections needed.

Now ironically, the woman might get further with her resume than the fellow. There is the possibility that because he is applying for a government position, the competition will be fierce and others extremely qualified. Sheer numbers could keep him from advancing to the interview stage. The woman may get an interview as she’s applying for a job through a mutual friend. The scrutiny that each application is going under is very different. While the employer may look over her resume and have her in for an interview as a favour to her friend, the fellow has no such connection, and if he gets an interview, he earned it entirely.

Look, the bottom line is that it’s wise to ask for others to proofread your work, and both get full marks for asking. However, it’s equally essential that you stay open to the help you get and consider the advice of people who are doing you a favour. Otherwise you are wasting your time and theirs; showing little respect for the time and opinions of others.

Can you get an interview with flawed documents full of grammar and spelling errors? Sure you can; it is possible. Is it likely? No. Act on advice and improve your odds.

Applying For Work Using Email


How far we have come in such a short period of time. How few years ago was it that if you were applying for a job you got dressed appropriately and traveled to the job site or the company and spoke to the person in charge if you could, and either gave them your resume or even said, “Put me to work” in the hope you could demonstrate your skills and be hired. Well I wish licorice pipes were two cents too but they aren’t and they aren’t likely to be again in my lifetime.

So when you apply or inquire about a job opening using email, one of your first decisions has to be that you actually use an email that doesn’t get you rejected just because it sounds ridiculous or gives your age away. I’m talking about jaredsmith1988@…., fluffybunnykins@….., studguy69@…. or juliewhite39@… Oh and just in case you think I’ve invented these, fluffybunnykins@ was the email a client of mine had been using up to the point of our meeting; her mom made it for her when she was 12 years old. Enough said.

When you apply, the subject line of your email should be the job title followed by the word, ‘vacancy’ or ‘position’ as in, “General Manufacturing position”, or “Financial Investment Officer vacancy”. Did you know that it is critical that you actually capitalize the first letter of the job title itself just as you would the first letter in your own first and last name? Because that is the standard measure of how to print or write a proper noun, you give away your lack of education or professionalism if you use lower case letters for each word. In other words, your words send a message that screams, “I don’t know basic grammar!” or, “I couldn’t care less even though I know how to do it properly”, or possibly, “I’ve been texting so long like a teenager myself I didn’t think anybody cared anymore!”. Hmmmm….they do.

In the body of the email, it is equally critical that you include a brief paragraph stating that you are applying for the job matching the subject line, that you are qualified, highly interested, have attached your resume and/or cover letter, and want an interview and provide your contact information. These couple of lines or a single paragraph show the reader of your email that you can string together a few sentences using proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. This reveals your level of literacy and will exude professionalism or smell of illiteracy. Proofreading this prior to sending your email is critically important therefore and you might get another pair of eyes to look it other before you hit, ‘send’.

Some people don’t think it necessary to actually include a phone number or email address in the body of the text, but if they can’t open your attachment, (or heaven forbid you actually forget to attach it at all!), they will have a number accessible to contact you. I would hope you aren’t applying for an IT position if you fail to include the attachment, but some careers/jobs that don’t require a high level of computer expertise are a tad more forgiving but best make sure you double-check that you’ve attached it to look competent. Failing to attach something as important as your resume, especially when you say you have, will reveal your lack of attention to detail, your ship-shod, sloppy way of doing things that are important, and probably rule you out from other moving forward.

If you include a cover letter, you have a choice to make. You can do one of three things really; 1) make the body of the email itself your cover letter, 2) have a single attachment being your cover letter and your resume further down as you scroll, or 3) have two attachments, a cover letter and your resume. So what’s best? Well first of all not all employers want to read a cover letter, so while you may get different takes on this advice, I’d avoid option #2. Because you don’t know the level of computer expertise the person has who is opening your email and how much time they will devote to it, they may actually not scroll down your cover letter to find the resume, and may assume incorrectly you included the cover letter only when you said you had attached the cover letter and resume. This would be their error, but your email gets deleted and they’ve moved on to other applicants.

The option of two attachments gives the receiver the choice of going right to the resume and ignoring the cover letter altogether, or opening both separately and reading them. As you don’t know when you apply if the employer appreciates a cover letter all the time, at least they can quickly open what they want and go from there. Should you opt to use the body of the email as your cover letter and have a single attachment being your resume only, it’s good advice to write a shorter cover letter that gets right to it and motivates them to move on and open your resume. A long cover letter may just be tiresome to read, overly wordy, and actually put them off.

Please use spellcheck features and proofread your document. Some people just rely on the computer to point out errors like incorrect spelling, but it will miss your use of an improper word that you have spelled correctly often. Because you will have the tendency to see the same mistake and miss it again and again, another pair of trained eyes is always a good bet.